Divided by a common tongue
December 11, 2020 5:32 AM   Subscribe

I can't believe I'm asking this, but: You live in a country where you write today's date as "11 December". How do you read that? The eleventh of December? Eleventh December? Eleven December? Something else? Do you ever use "December (the) eleventh" when speaking? (Please specify the country whose English you speak in your answer, and thank you!)
posted by trig to Writing & Language (72 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'd say it as eleventh december or december 11 in conversation, but read it (in my head) as eleven december.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 5:38 AM on December 11, 2020 [1 favorite]


UK - but was brought up South Asia at a school which taught in British English - I read it as Eleven December but when speaking say 11th December, 11th of December (most frequently), or December the 11th.
posted by unicorn chaser at 5:41 AM on December 11, 2020 [5 favorites]


Response by poster: Thank you! Please do say where you live in your answer, as there might be differences across countries.

I'd say it as eleventh december or december 11 in conversation, but read it (in my head) as eleven december.

Do you mean that when you read, you pronounce it internally differently than you would when speaking? Do you internally read "5 December" as "five December"?
posted by trig at 5:42 AM on December 11, 2020


I'd say it as eleventh december or december 11 in conversation, but read it (in my head) as eleven december.

Ditto. Am on the east coast of the US.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 5:54 AM on December 11, 2020 [2 favorites]


I am in the USA. My father was in the U.S. military for 26 years, and then I was in the U.S. military for 12 years.

My natural inclination is to write, say and read "11 December."

Even when I express dates in the common U.S. style of "December 11," I rarely use the "th" ending.
posted by NotLost at 6:00 AM on December 11, 2020 [3 favorites]


Response by poster: Sorry for threadsitting, but a few things:

- please be as explicit as possible when spelling out how you pronounce it. If you just write "11 December", we're back at the original problem - I don't know if you're thinking of "eleven", "eleventh", "the eleventh of", etc.

- If you're an American, please only answer if, like NotLost, you actually use the practice of writing the number before the month, which is not standard in the US.

Thanks! I've been wondering about this for years: I see British people write $number $month, and have no idea, as an American, how that's meant to be pronounced.
posted by trig at 6:07 AM on December 11, 2020 [4 favorites]


I'm a US expat living in Germany. I've been writing day before month for 2 years now, and it's become the norm for me. So today is "11/12"*. I've always said "December 11th" in the US. Here, it's "der elfte Dezember" - the eleventh December. But when speaking English, I say December eleventh.

* this annoys my wife to no end, because her birthday is November 12th, 11/12. But here it's 12/11. So I said happy birthday today, and she gave me big angry face :)
posted by Bucket o' Heads at 6:10 AM on December 11, 2020 [5 favorites]


In French it would be "le onze décembre" or "the eleven December". It makes so much more sense to do day month year, from smaller to larger, English is weird.
posted by mareli at 6:19 AM on December 11, 2020 [3 favorites]


British person. I say today's date as "the eleventh of December", or (less likely but possible) "December the eleventh".

Could be written as 11/12/20 or 11 Dec 20 or 11th December 2020 or other variants - but always day first - again, smallest to largest unit. Some English speakers are weird.
posted by rd45 at 6:20 AM on December 11, 2020 [10 favorites]


Some evidence from British: "Remember, remember, the fifth of November"
posted by madcaptenor at 6:21 AM on December 11, 2020 [5 favorites]


"The eleventh of December" (UK).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:22 AM on December 11, 2020 [2 favorites]


Eleventh of December. British person, live in the UK.
posted by dowcrag at 6:24 AM on December 11, 2020 [1 favorite]


I'm British and in the UK, and glancing at a letter on my desk with the date "26 November 2020", I find I read it as "26th of November 2020", even in my head. So, for a standalone date like the one in a letterhead: "eleventh of December". "Eleven December" isn't idiomatic, and I'd never reverse the day and month when it's written out right there in front of me on the page.

I notice that sometimes my "of" is so de-emphasised that it's barely there at all, just a hint of a vowel between the "eleventh" and the "December". But the "th" is non-negotiable.

If I were referring to a date in speech, I'd say "the eleventh of December" or "December the eleventh". Usually the former.

If I'm writing out a date in a note to myself, I use "11th Dec." or "11/12" (plus optional year). "11 December" looks oddly formal to me.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 6:27 AM on December 11, 2020 [4 favorites]


I'm British, more specifically Scottish. I would both read and say '11 December' as 'the eleventh of December'. If it was written as 'December 11' then I would read/say 'December the eleventh'.
posted by maybeandroid at 6:32 AM on December 11, 2020 [3 favorites]


To clarify, it is just exactly "Eleven December."
posted by NotLost at 6:42 AM on December 11, 2020 [3 favorites]


Raised in the U.S., have lived in Scotland for the past 7 years and Germany for the 3 years prior to that.

Reading it on the page, I usually hear that in my head as "eleven December". While I might say it that way if reading it aloud off a page, I would be more likely to say "the eleventh of December", and definitely would do so in any noncasual or business situation. When speaking aloud without reading a date off a page, I would probably be most likely to say "December eleventh".
posted by kyrademon at 6:48 AM on December 11, 2020


I'm South African and living in Cape Town. I would say "11th of December" when reading "11 December" out loud. And probably also when talking more casually, although I might also say "December 11th" or "December the 11th"
posted by Zumbador at 6:50 AM on December 11, 2020


I'm Irish, and in English I would always write "11th December". Mostly this is pronounced "the eleventh of December", but sometimes "December 11th". ( 11/12 would be pronounced the same way).
posted by scorbet at 6:55 AM on December 11, 2020


UK. I'd see 11 December written down and say "On the 11th of December" aloud. Not sure what I'd say in my head, not sure I'd sound it out at all, it'd go straight from my eyes to my brain without being verbalised in my head.

Plenty of my colleagues would still write 11th December, or even on the 11th December and then they send it to me and I correct it because I'm a journalist by trade and universal news style is to write it as 11 December (to save space on the page, every character is precious).
posted by penguin pie at 6:58 AM on December 11, 2020


I'm British/ Scottish and would both read and say 'the eleventh of December', unless I was in a lift.
posted by Lanark at 7:00 AM on December 11, 2020 [9 favorites]


I am an American, and like a previous commenter, grew up in a family where "11 December" was the preferred usage. Because in the USA, this is the standard format used in the military, and both my father and myself were career servicemembers. As a child, I used this format in a family setting because I was trying to be like my dad-- same with 24 hour time format (1300 is 1:00 pm, etc). Unintentionally, it made for a very easy transition into Boot Camp.

In spoken conversation, I might say 11 December if I am in a hurry, but normally if I am talking to a stranger I will code switch into the standard civilian format-- "the 11th of December." It is very important to me that my communications be as clear and simple as possible, with no room for misunderstanding. For family members, close friends I trust, or people I work with who have to adjust to me eventually, I will stay in my standard 11 December mode.

I'd also like to add that the preferred version of this military format includes the year in it. Normally you would write 11 Dec 20 or 11 December 2020. If you are used to writing official military messages, or an excel geek, you will have been trained to put a leading zero on numbers less than ten, so the real format is 06 June 1944. Just writing or saying 11 December without the year is very informal.

Finally, I would like to say that you can go into your computer's settings and change how the date and time is displayed. For my own computer, I do dates as 11-Dec-20 (the hyphens are a Windows thing) and time as 15:25 (similarly, the colon is a Windows affectation, standard US military format is 1525). It makes me feel comfortable to see my preferred date format on my devices. I also set up any spreadsheet I control to format dates in that way, too.

Huh, turns out I have enough feelings about this minor topic to write more than 300 words about it on an internet forum. Go figure.
posted by seasparrow at 7:00 AM on December 11, 2020 [6 favorites]


Australian that now lives in the Midwest USA. I used to read it as the 11th of December but recently have noticed I read it as December 11 which is how my husband says it. When I was living in Australia I would say "the 11th of December" after 10+ years in the US I still say it but now I am making a conscious effort to keep saying it the say way, if I don't stop & think before saying the date though I will say it December 11th. (But Damn it I will die on the hill of never calling it a Gas Station though).
posted by wwax at 7:02 AM on December 11, 2020


I write 11 December, which in my head is "Eleven December" but I in conversation I would say "Today is the eleventh of December."

I am American but have lived in the UK and Ireland for 23 years. Even in the US though I wrote 11 December 2020, which I knew was Euro-style dating. I also write my 7s with a slash and always have.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:07 AM on December 11, 2020 [2 favorites]


Eleventh of December, I live in Scotland, mostly grew up here, and always put the date before the month.

My mom is American and has lived in the UK for 35 years. She would say December eleventh.
posted by sedimentary_deer at 7:14 AM on December 11, 2020


DarlingBri, I am another unrepentant American who slashes his sevens and zeros. If that is being wrong then I don't want to be right!
posted by seasparrow at 7:15 AM on December 11, 2020 [3 favorites]


Scotland: I would in my internal monologue say “the eleventh of December”. If I was reading out loud, I would say “eleventh December”. If I was describing what was written in a looser way, I would probably say “December the eleventh”.
posted by JJZByBffqU at 7:16 AM on December 11, 2020


Australia: "the eleventh of December".

For what it's worth, that's the way I speak any date, regardless of how it's written down. If there's a year as well, it would be "the eleventh of December, twenty-twenty" regardless of whether it's written "11 Dec 2020" or "11/12/2020" or (my personal preference) "2020-12-11" or (in a publication known to have come from the US) "12/11/2020".
posted by flabdablet at 7:19 AM on December 11, 2020


UK person here.

I would read: "eleventh of December"
I would say: "the eleventh of December"

But "December 11"? I would read that as "December 2011". The reason for this is that a UK speaker would never write "December 11", unless they meant "December, 2011". This gets a bit tricky if I am reading e.g. an email from an American colleague, in which case you parse the meaning from the context.

To say "eleven December" or "December eleven" is an Americanism as far as I am aware. I've very rarely heard any born and bred UK person say that, although it appears to be common in American films/TV.
posted by underclocked at 7:22 AM on December 11, 2020 [4 favorites]


I grew up in the Netherlands, have lived in the US since 1959. In the Netherlands they always write the date as 11 December, and would almost always say "elf [eleven] december," never with an article. The ordinals are quite rarely used, but when they are, it is in the form "de [the] elfde [eleventh] december," and only extremely rarely "de elfde van [of] december." The latter is mainly found archaically and even then rarely.
posted by beagle at 7:23 AM on December 11, 2020


British. Would read an invisible 'th'. So it's 11th of December. Would say either 11th of December or December 11th. Would neither read nor say December 11 or 11 December. Agree that December 11 is the form preserved for month, year. Although would expect an apostrophe: December '11 (with century derived from context).
posted by freya_lamb at 7:40 AM on December 11, 2020 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: This is extremely interesting, especially that there's an apparently common difference between speech and internal reading voice!

For those of you who've written "eleventh (of) December", with no "the" -- you'd read "The party is on 11 December" as "The party is on eleventh (of) December"?
posted by trig at 7:47 AM on December 11, 2020


South asian by birth, raised in south-east asia. I would say "eleventh December" when speaking informally, "the eleventh of December" when writing or if speaking formally, and something like "11 Dec" (deck) in my head.
posted by MiraK at 7:50 AM on December 11, 2020


I'm from the US but lived in the US a long time, and my poor dyslexic brain can now never remember which way round is which, so I always write dates out as words. I'd say "the eleventh of December", but tbh "the" and "eleven" would get mushed together to the point that "the" is mostly elided.

(ps, Lanark, I wish I could like your post 11 times. always love that sketch.)
posted by EllaEm at 7:56 AM on December 11, 2020 [1 favorite]


For those of you who've written "eleventh (of) December", with no "the" -- you'd read "The party is on 11 December" as "The party is on eleventh (of) December"?
My internal reading voice says "11 December" and when I'm reading it out loud I say "11th of December"
posted by Zumbador at 7:57 AM on December 11, 2020


Could be either "The party is on the eleventh of December", or "The party is December eleventh", or sometimes a variation. There's no hard and fast rule for me other than the ordinal.
posted by freya_lamb at 8:00 AM on December 11, 2020


Canadian / American, long settled in New Zealand: the eleventh of December speaking, 11 December internal.
posted by lemon_icing at 8:05 AM on December 11, 2020


I'm US American and in my job I have to keep things understandable for folks in the US, UK, EU, India, and Australia. I don't write American dates anymore, and use either 20201211 or 11DEC2020 when I'm indicating dates.

Speaking, though? I have said a version of "eleven deece twentytwenty" to my coworkers enough times for them to point it out to me. One juhn twentytwenty. Four nove twentytwenty. I don't even say whole months anymore. Sorry.
posted by phunniemee at 8:05 AM on December 11, 2020 [3 favorites]


British spouse here in South London says "the eleventh of December."
posted by johngoren at 8:24 AM on December 11, 2020


Grew up in the US, currently living in Quebec. It's fairly common to see the date written as 11 December here, and I would pronounce that aloud as "December eleventh" -- I think that's how most people here would pronounce it as well.

(FWIW in French it would be written as 11 décembre and pronounced "onze décembre.")
posted by mekily at 8:26 AM on December 11, 2020 [1 favorite]


I'm English and I'd say "The 11th of December" but the 'of' might be barely vocalised.
posted by Urtylug at 8:31 AM on December 11, 2020


Also, I do use "December the 11th" sometimes.
posted by Urtylug at 8:36 AM on December 11, 2020


Canadian, grew up in the Toronto area. I would say that as "The eleventh of December" or "December eleventh" but my natural inclination would be to write it as "December 11," instead of "11 December."
posted by rodlymight at 8:36 AM on December 11, 2020


New Zealander, lived there 26 years then moved to the USA. Been here 20. I now write December 11 or 12/11 automatically where I used to write 11 December or 11/12, but still think of it as "the eleventh of December".
posted by gaspode at 8:50 AM on December 11, 2020


This is really enlightening. Dad was a US servicemember and though I've never served, I always read and say Eleven December and this very thread is helping me understand why. I find it comforting to see this particular format in the wild, and I even get tinged with cranky when I see it written as December 11th (why do you even need the th?), though hearing someone say December Eleventh is perfectly fine.

I do the conversational code-switching thing sometimes when I'm not in a hurry. But if I'm giving a date to someone to enter on a form or verify something, I stick with Eleven December.

Neat.
posted by mochapickle at 8:51 AM on December 11, 2020 [1 favorite]


US citizen. Have lived in Japan for a couple of years, but other than that, lived my whole life in the USA. I write for international audiences. To the extent possible, to avoid ambiguity I never would write a date for public consumption with only numerals. I would write 11 Dec 20. For my internal records, I write 201211 (and have a macro for it) because it sorts better (although it did have a Y2K problem). This is a habit I picked up in Japan, where YY-MM-DD notation is preferred.

In speech, I have no preference between "the eleventh of December" and "December eleventh." I would probably read "11 Dec" as "the eleventh of December" but don't hold me to it.

It's my understanding that the Universal Postal Union prefers roman numerals for the month, eg 11 XII 2020, as a way to minimize ambiguity, but AFAIK, that's completely peculiar to the UPU.
posted by adamrice at 8:56 AM on December 11, 2020


In my head, it's "eleven December;" if I'm reading it to someone I will usually translate it to "December eleventh." Usually with a momentary pause as I switch it, because the situation doesn't come up a lot and I don't get a ton of practice.

(U.S. Midwest: I started doing this after reading somebody talking about the logical sense of keeping the units in order of size, and kept doing it because I liked being able to skip the comma. My preferred format is not 100% consistent, but I usually use the "11 December 2020" or "11 December" formats when writing stuff I mean to be read mostly by myself, or stuff like signing and dating a document, where it's unlikely that someone else would have to say it aloud. In a few personal-use contexts, I go from larger to smaller units, e.g., 2020 December 11, though that's uncommon. )
posted by Spathe Cadet at 10:24 AM on December 11, 2020 [2 favorites]


Scottish here, I would say "Eleventh of December", and if I were writing myself I would write it 11th December.

If something said "The party is on 11 December" I would read it aloud as "The party is on the 11th of December.

I would also say December eleventh, but it sort of depends on the date - January first sounds better, for example. Eleventh is just sort of awkward to say.
posted by stillnocturnal at 10:25 AM on December 11, 2020


Australian living in Australia. Spent a brief time in Germany.

I would personally never write "11 December". I write 11th of December or 11/12/2020 (or 11.12.2020 in Germany). If I were to see "11 December" written somewhere, I would probably just say "eleventh of December".
posted by kinddieserzeit at 10:25 AM on December 11, 2020


East coast American. In my head and out loud I say December Eleventh.
posted by greta simone at 10:31 AM on December 11, 2020


I think it's like how when I see □, I pronounce it 'square'.

I see 11 December as a symbol for what the date is, the eleventh of December or, less often, December eleventh.

Editing to add that I'm a Northern Irish person who has lived in England for 16 years.
posted by knapah at 11:40 AM on December 11, 2020


American here, non-military. I transitioned to British English when studying in Cape Town during college, and I never transitioned back. In my head, I read it as "eleven December" but I'd say it as "eleventh of December" or "December eleventh" aloud.

However, I don't tend to write it as 11/12/20 because that confuses people here. If possible, I write out 11 December 2020 instead.
posted by guster4lovers at 12:26 PM on December 11, 2020


December eleventh or eleventh of December are my go-to's.

West coast of Canada.
posted by philip-random at 1:00 PM on December 11, 2020


American... I write 11 December and I think "eleven December" and I say "eleven December" but... if I had to write it as numbers I'd write "12/11/20". My father was (briefly) in the military before I was born, but wasn't a part of my life when I picked up this habit and I am fairly certain that at the time I didn't even know he'd been in the military at all; if I had to guess I'd say I read it somewhere and then adapted it based on absolutely nothing other than my long-standing enjoyment of being contrarian.

Not quite what you asked, but my husband is Eastern European and writes "11/12/20". He says "Eleventh of" in both English and his native language. I was just amused by this and wanted to share.
posted by sm1tten at 1:27 PM on December 11, 2020


Denmark here: “den ellevete december” which is “the elleventh of december”
posted by alchemist at 2:13 PM on December 11, 2020


British.

Anyone who has ever taught copy-writing in the UK knows that plenty of British students don't know to write 11 December and (almost) just as often write December 11. Even more often they don't realise something is wrong with the date when you test them with it.

I say eleventh of December when I'm speaking formally and eleventh December when I'm reading/more relaxed.
posted by einekleine at 3:22 PM on December 11, 2020


"the eleventh of December".

I think I might occasionally say "December (the) eleventh" and could probably be pushed to that if it was written with month first.

No difference between internal and external voice there.

Native speaker of Scottish English from the UK.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 3:33 PM on December 11, 2020


Response by poster: Definitely enlightening. Thank you all!
posted by trig at 6:54 AM on December 12, 2020


For those of you who've written "eleventh (of) December", with no "the" -- you'd read "The party is on 11 December" as "The party is on eleventh (of) December"?

English, living in England. As I read it, in my head I’d maybe think either “eleven December” or “eleventh December”.

If I was reading it aloud I might say “eleventh December” or “eleventh of December” or “the eleventh of December”. I think it would depend on what I was reading (how faithful I needed to be to the text), who I was reading it to, how fast I was reading, etc.

You also mentioned “5 December”. Maybe because “five” and “fifth” sound very different, in my head I’d never read it as “five December”. It would always be “fifth December”. Although saying “eleven December” out loud sounds weird, saying “five December” sounds really wrong.
posted by fabius at 6:57 AM on December 12, 2020


Read: 11 December
Say: the 11th of December

Born and lived in NZ: 35 years
Lived in UK:10 years+
posted by BAKERSFIELD! at 9:09 AM on December 12, 2020


British. I would never write “11 December”, only 11th December, and if I was writing it in a sentence, I’d write “your next appointment is on the 11th of December”. Which is also what I would say, 99% of the time. I’m Northern, so the “the” and “of” sometimes get swallowed - it might sound like “theleventh a-December”, but both words are definitely there in my mind.

11 December is the kind of thing you might see on a clock or calendar or something else automated, but you wouldn’t write it without the “th”.

I might occasionally say “December the 11th” if I was contrasting it with another day in December, to put the stress on “the 11th”. Ie “he’s coming on December the 11th, not December the 12th”. But I don’t use that construction very often.
posted by tinkletown at 9:32 AM on December 12, 2020


Incidentally when I lived in Toronto, we used 11/Dec/20 in the medical notes. Whether that was standard in Canada, or because we had enough European and American healthcare workers in the hospital that we had to spell out which number was a day and which was a month, I couldn’t say.,
posted by tinkletown at 9:37 AM on December 12, 2020


And yep agree that “December 11” is December 2011. If you mean the 11th of December, you’d need to write “December 11th” for me to realise you meant that. Or “December 11, 2020”.
posted by tinkletown at 9:42 AM on December 12, 2020 [1 favorite]


Grew up in the US, where the shorthand format (month-day-year) reflected the more common way of saying dates as "December eleven, year". Now live in Canada, where official forms use day-month-year but common usage is mixed. So in my head I would read 11 December as "eleven December", because I am used to not having to add words or anything when reading written dates. But I also know that in actual speech that would sound awkward, so reading 11 December aloud always takes an extra moment of mental work to translate to one of the more common ways of saying dates aloud, and I do tend to code switch a bit based on who I'm with and the context in how I would say that date aloud.

(Side note: please don't put slashes through your zeroes, at least in math class. In math notation, that is the empty set, not zero. These are two distinct, non-interchangeable mathematical objects. Putting a slash through zero seems to have started with early computer outputs where fonts were super primitive and it was hard to distinguish between zero and the uppercase letter O. We have better fonts now, as well as other options when handwriting. This is definitely not a US thing btw: many of us Americans don't put slashes through our zeroes, and I've also run across folks from various other countries who do. Since it's the sort of thing we learn to do or not do in elementary school, some regional variation or correlation seems quite possible. Or it might also be a professional subculture of our parents thing, like the date and time formats used in the US military?)
posted by eviemath at 10:48 AM on December 13, 2020 [1 favorite]


eviemath, I would definitely say that zero-slashing is a subculture thing. It's part of at least two I've been a part of-- military and computer coding. In both cases, it is essential to differentiate between a zero and the alphabet letter "o" in places where alphanumerics can be mixed together haphazardly and you absolutely positively have to get it right the first time, like in part numbers, data plates, GIS reference points, and so on. And from where I'm sitting, there seem to be a lot more military members and computer coders who need to slash their zeroes every day than there are math professors need to signify the empty set in math notation, although I'm sure that is a matter of perspective. To each their own, and your choice is just as valid as mine, but zero-slashing is a fundamental part of my literacy and numeracy identity-- it's how in just a tiny tiny way I make the smallest amount of sense out of a chaotic world. What I'm saying is that I'm not going to stop doing it for anyone, and you and your math notation gang members are going to have to pry my zero-slashing pen from my cold dead fingers. ;) And of course now I see that you did immediately add the qualifier "at least in math class", but in the fashion of internet users anywhere, my adrenal system jumped me straight to hot-take mode at the perceived threat to my precious slashed zeroes. So I am a big old dummy who should not be on Metafilter today.
posted by seasparrow at 4:28 PM on December 13, 2020 [2 favorites]


Canadian here. As a child growing up in Northern Alberta in the 70s,, taught in Anglophile schools, I’d have been surprised to read ‘11 December’ rather than ‘the eleventh of December’ or ‘December 11th’. I would not have been surprised to hear, and actually have a vivid memory of my third grade teacher saying ‘eleven December’ regardless of how it was written.

Now, after having lived in many other places with their own English eccentricities, I tend to write ‘11 December’ and say ‘December eleventh’ in casual conversation. It passed in Cambridge, UK as well as everywhere else, so I no longer think about it.
posted by alaaarm at 5:33 PM on December 13, 2020


I will slash zeroes when doing so is required to disambiguate them from ohs. So yes in handwritten computer code, or passwords, or other contexts where the character concerned could plausibly be either a letter or a digit. This is a long-ingrained, pain-induced habit that began in engineering school after re-punching too many FORTRAN IV cards with hand punches apparently ill-suited to their primary design purpose, the I/O centre keypunch operator having passive-aggressively punched ohs in a context where even somebody with the slightest familiarity with coding would have known that zeroes were required.

There is no point slashing them in a date, because there is never any ambiguity between day or month names and day, month or year numbers. If I hand-write "Mon 10 Oct 2020" then which of those circular glyphs are ohs and which are zeroes is perfectly clear from context. There are no month or day names or abbreviations that could look like numbers.

In maths classes I would probably avoid using slashed circles in any context, instead writing {} for the empty set.

I can think of no good reason to avoid writing sevens French-style, with an additional horizontal stroke through the stem; doing so makes it perfectly clear to anybody not already familiar with my handwriting that the glyph I'm attempting is not a one with a top-heavy serif.
posted by flabdablet at 1:40 AM on December 14, 2020 [1 favorite]


I will slash zeroes when doing so is required to disambiguate them from ohs. So yes in handwritten computer code, or passwords, or other contexts where the character concerned could plausibly be either a letter or a digit. This is a long-ingrained, pain-induced habit that began in engineering school after re-punching too many FORTRAN IV cards with hand punches apparently ill-suited to their primary design purpose, the I/O centre keypunch operator having passive-aggressively punched ohs in a context where even somebody with the slightest familiarity with coding would have known that zeroes were required.

There is no point slashing them in a date, because there is never any ambiguity between day or month names and day, month or year numbers. If I hand-write "Mon 10 Oct 2020" then which of those circular glyphs are ohs and which are zeroes is perfectly clear from context. There are no month or day names or abbreviations that could look like numbers.

In maths classes I would probably try to avoid using slashed circles altogether, instead writing {} for the empty set.

I can think of no good reason to avoid writing sevens French-style, with an additional horizontal stroke through the stem; doing so makes it perfectly clear to anybody not already familiar with my handwriting that the glyph I'm attempting is not a one with a top-heavy serif. All the same, I almost never do.
posted by flabdablet at 2:40 AM on December 14, 2020


American, often but not always in business writing use this formulation to avoid the confusion of different countries using different placement when a date is expressed as all numbers, plus it lets me avoid extraneous commas (because I pretty much always include the year as well). I would read it on the page both in my head and out loud as 11 December, but if I were speaking the date without reading it written this way, I would not say it that way, I would say "December eleventh" most likely, or "11th of December."
posted by solotoro at 7:07 AM on December 14, 2020


the confusion of different countries using different placement when a date is expressed as all numbers

Anybody who publishes any document that might need to be read anywhere other than their own home country, and uses any numeric date format inside that document other than ISO 8601, is Doing It Wrong.

Given that ISO 8601 has been an international standard for over three decades already, it's even arguable that any use of any non-compliant numeric date format in any new document also counts as Doing It Wrong even if it is purely for domestic consumption.
posted by flabdablet at 7:28 AM on December 14, 2020


flabdablet: "Anybody who publishes any document that might need to be read anywhere other than their own home country, and uses any numeric date format inside that document other than ISO 8601, is Doing It Wrong."

That's a…contentious position to take. You might as well say that referring to my native language as American English instead of EN-US is Doing It Wrong, since I'm not following ISO-639-1.
posted by adamrice at 10:10 AM on December 15, 2020


and uses any numeric date format

Important to notice this is about numeric formats, if you want to refer to a date as October 7 2020 instead of 7th October 2020 the way god intended, some people invariably won't like it, but nobody is going to get confused and think you are referring to a completely different day.

But if you use a numeric format like 10/7/2020 instead of 7/10/2020 there is a guarantee that some people are going to interpret the meaning differently. A lot of people learn this lesson the hard way when their car hire, accommodation or conference booking goes badly wrong.
2020-10-07 may look unfamiliar but nobody in any country will just assume it is a date in July.
posted by Lanark at 10:51 AM on December 15, 2020 [3 favorites]


I'm not suggesting that dates should always be written in numeric form. If you want to write something tidily unambiguous like December 11, 2020 or 11th December 2020 or 11 Dec 2020, have at it. All I'm saying is that if you're going to use a numeric format, make it ISO 8601 or suffer my baleful glare.

On preview: what Lanark said.

On edit: baleful glares will also be inflicted upon people who insist that two digits is enough for a year, having apparently learned nothing from Y2k.
posted by flabdablet at 10:53 AM on December 15, 2020


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