bruce d. boling bboling at UNM.EDU
Fri Sep 13 14:04:00 UTC 2002

     As in other instances American usage here is archaic.  In preparation
for our book "Irish Immigrants in the Land of Canaan" (OUP, Dec. 2002),
covering the period 1687-1815, Prof. Kerby A. Miller (Univ. of
Missouri-Columbia) and I  have gathered and read several thousand personal
letters.  Neary without exception
these letters show the address of the writer and date at the beginning of
the letter and the sequence "month--day--year."   Only as the 19th century
progresses do we see the pattern "day--month--year" take hold; American
usage for the most part clings to the old pattern.  In the  early and
mid-17th century the address of the writer and date usually come at the end
of the letter and generally take  the  form "written at London the 27th day
of March 1615."

     A couple of examples taken from the letter collection (provincial
Irish usage does not differ from metropolitan Englisg usage):

        Balenloge  County west meath  may ye 4th 1700

        Drumgun   July 21th. [sic]  1736

        April 1 1798

        Aughintober  May 27th 1808

Bruce D. Boling
University of New Mexico
bboling at

--On Friday, September 13, 2002 7:35 PM +1000 "Prof. R. Sussex"
<sussex at UQ.EDU.AU> wrote:

> I was initially thinking of computer use, hence MMDDYY. Speech
> introduces other variables. In writing initial evidence from US
> archives suggests a US preference for month-first at least as early
> as Jefferson.
> We Commonwealthers don't always say anything; we use all the formats
> Fritz cites, and a few others besides, with greater or lesser
> awareness of the implications (cultural, social, stylistic). But on
> computers we are strictly DDMMYY.
> The convention of writing the date at the head of a letter seems to
> be not much older than the 19th century: I'd appreciate advice here
> too if anyone knows.
> Some Asian cultures prefer YYMMDD, which is a much better way if you
> want to sort files by date of creation/name. For other culturally
> very relative information see
> Roly Sussex
>> Do you mean in writing or speech or both?  Do you commonwealthers always
>> say "The 12th of September, 2002"?  "September 12th, 2002" sounds fine
>> (if not easier and better) to me.  Maybe the N Am practice is based on
>> what we say (assuming "September 12th, 2002" is more common)
>> Fritz Juengling
>>>  Does anyone know when and under what conditions the N. American
>>>  practice of MMDDYY arose for dates? As far as I know the practice
>>  > elsewhere is DDMMYY.
>>  >
>>  > Roly Sussex
>>  >
> --
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