Saturday, July 12, 2008

Why do Czechs write their dates with the day first rather than the month – i.e., 19.11.1970 for November 19, 1970?

It is the U.S. which is the outlier here. We are one of the rare countries which uses the Month/Day/Year format (a couple of Pacific Island states are the others). The Czechs along with most of the rest of the world use Day/Month/Year which at least to me seems more logical, moving from the more specific to the more general. It is derived from the older habit of writing “the Nineteenth Day of November in the Year of Our Lord 1970.” Probably even better is the system in use in some Asian countries which is Year/Month/Day which allows easy sorting in spreadsheets. You may also notice that Czechs sometimes use a Roman numeral for the month – thus, 19.XI.1970 – which makes things a little more clear. Beware then that for Czechs 9/11 is actually 11/9 (devateho jedenacte – the ninth day of the eleventh month).