05 April, 2013

Date confusion

Not only do I live with a measure of cultural, linguistic, and seasonal confusion. Our lives are plagued with date confusion.

Australians write the date Day/Month/Year.
Japanese write the date Year/Month/Day.

Fair enough. But then we end up at an American school where they write it Month/Day/Year. We also shop at an American shop (Costco) that have use-by dates on their products.


The easiest way for me to illustrate how challenging this can be is to take you on a quitck tour of our pantry and fridge. Here are some product use-by-dates:

This is the hardest: when all the dates are under 12!
By the way, the contents of this bottle have been
consumed and the bottle is being used to contain fresher

Now I don't think it is just because I'm entering my fifth decade that I struggle with this. It really messes with my brain if I'm in a rush, as I usually am.

Below is the smartest way to do dates when it is all this confusing. This is how I ensure others know what I'm doing (I'm yet to bring myself to write dates the American way).


Ken Rolph said...

I once made a large amount of money consulting for a company that worked in Europe, America and Australia. They were trying to standardise their documentation across all divisions. One of my suggestions was that they NEVER write the date with just numbers. Always use the 3 letter abbreviation for the month and no mistakes will be made. Some Europeans use the year-month-day. This is quite rational if you need to sort items into date order over a long period of time.

The least rational is the US system. I often wonder if they realise that a month is shorter than a year but longer than a day.

Wendy said...

Thanks for dropping by Ken. Yes, using abbreviation for the month seems to be the best thing. It's interesting to know that Japan is not alone in the yr/mth/day order.

Someone pointed out on my link to this post on my Facebook page that I'd neglected to mention that Japan actually has two systems of dates. I'll have to address that sometime in the new year. It doesn't, however, get used for best-before dates.