16/05/2010, 05/16/2010 or 2010/05/16?

A friend recently commented on Word altering, for example, the ‘4th of June’ to the ‘6th of April’ and this stimulated me to explore further into the history of calendar dates:

There is an article here on the Swiftian ‘battle’ between the UK ‘Littlendians’, the USA ‘Muddledendians’ and the Asian ‘Bigendians’: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calendar_date

The question as to when and why the USA opted for ‘July 4, 1776’ (as it is written on the Declaration of Independence) is interesting and some suggestions are to be found here: http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/24913

The film ‘Born On The Fourth of July’ should, of course, have been ‘Born On July Fourth’ and a clue is to be found here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Born_on_the_Fourth_of_July , for it comes from the song ‘The Yankee Doodle Boy’ by George Michael Cohen.

The song is probably best-known from the 1942 film ‘Yankee Doodle Dandle’ where it is sung by James Cagney and from that performance it is better-known as ‘I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy’.

So, if the format ‘Month/Day/Year’ was indeed a symbolic act of defiance, then one of America’s best-known patriotic songs strangely overlooked that point, or did it?

I have an 18thC Scottish periodical before me, dated ‘Wednesday, March 7, 1792′  (the same format as the Declaration of Independence) and the very first article talks of someone who ‘was born the 26th January 1707’, indicating different formats used  in different contexts, as deemed appropriate, whether in the USA or the UK.

No wonder there’s now an International Standard:

ISO 8601 has today as 2010-05-16…

…but it remains ‘The 16th of May 2010’, in correct English!


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