Up From Down Under September 2007 by (c) Les Stephenson
9/11 When Did It Happen?
9/11. When did it happen? Silly question? Not if you live somewhere other than North America.
The terrible events America experienced
on September 11, 2001, occurred on 11/09/01 according to
my Australian way of writing the date. Two years after that date, I was living in China. To the Chinese,
the destruction of the World Trade Centre happened on 01/09/11.
Yes, in different parts of the world conventions vary as to how simple things
like the date should be written.
In America, 09/11/01 means September 11, 2001. But if you wrote 09/11/01 in Australia, or various
other countries around the world, you’d be referring to 9 November, 2001. In China, 09/11/01 would indicate 2009, November 1.
The Chinese method is derived from the international standard for dates:YYYY-MM-DD (ISO8601).
It’s important to have the numbers correct for the context of your
Let’s consider two other things about dates, and then take a quick
look at time.
I’ve noticed some authors insist on using ordinals in dates. What’s an ordinal, you ask? These are ordinal numbers:
first (1st), second (2nd), third (3rd), fourth (4th), …eleventh (11th),
twelfth (12th), thirteenth (13th), …twenty-first (21st), and so on. It means a position,
order or rank in a series.
shouldn’t be used for dates. It’s technically incorrect to write 7th August, or August 7th.
Because, an ordinal should include the unit of measure.
horse came seventh in the race.
played second fiddle in the orchestra.
Note: seventh horse, second fiddle.
means, of course, if you use ordinals in a date you should write something like this:
next meeting is scheduled for the seventh day of November, 2007.
Note: seventh day.
it simpler to write 7
August, 2007, or August 7, 2007?
much easier - you are not comparing or ranking the days of the month, you’re just writing the date.
you often see the comma omitted from a date: 7 August 2007. That
came about through commercial practice. In letters and memoranda, the typist had one less key to press if the comma was left
out. However, in prose and essays the year is generally considered parenthetical, and placed within commas. For example: Australia Day, 26 January, 2008, will be celebrated with
fireworks on SydneyHarbour.
section wasn’t meant to be controversial. I’m advocating best practice
within the narrative of a story or essay. It does not prohibit different styles in appropriate contexts; vernacular or colloquial
speech can be used in dialogue. You can still have a character say “See ya on the seventh, mate.”
correct format for time is Notice the colon between the two sets of
numerals, and the space before “a.m.” is is (Australians
may leave out the full stops [periods], because we don’t customarily use them for abbreviations: , , .) Don’t use capitals - AM or PM.
wish to use the word o’clock, do so for rounded times like . Never mix numerals and words ( is a definite no-no).
and colloquial differences do occur. Write right for your context.