abbreviations that save letters but not syllables.
The shortest dates, by the way, have 3
syllables (March 1,
1 and May 10, 10). The most recent 3-syllable date was
June 12, 12. Jesus
still faced puberty.
Does the date January 27, 1777 mean
anything to you? Sixteen
syllables when spoken. That's a record which will
stand for exactly 1,000
January 27, 2777 will establish a new
record of 17 syllables,
and it will not be exceeded for five millenia.
Dates can be abbreviated further, of
course, by giving
months their numerical position within the year.
Or stored in our computers.
We routinely shortening the numerical
representation of the
year itself. In our quest for brevity, we ignore
least significant digits,
writing about historical centuries or speaking about
Then too, there are the most
significant digits. Since some
of those pesky old cyphers in the year change so
slowly, we consider them
to be a waste of time when spoken and space when
computer people have decided to discard digits that
and millenia, never-minding that they happen to be --
well, the most significant
digits. That decision would not matter much if
computers merely incremented
dates with the passage of time or added dates
are something else.
Accordingly, numerically abbreviated dates
deserve our respect
and the undivided attention of our computers, large and
Subtractions are what computers do
when comparing one date
with another, like figuring out when a payment is
due or a deposit was
made or when some action must be taken.
Without most significant digits,
subtractions can produce
numbers that make no sense, like a negative number
when only a positive
number is appropriate.
Dates are indeed Shakespeare's
'syllables of recorded
time', and time is the ultimate arbiter of all human
here are some final observations about the digits in
dates as the 19,
which we have known all our lives, changes to 20...
record held by iotacism: It is the least useful
word in the English
Language. Here's what I want to know: If some old Greek
had enough initiative
to invent iotacism, why can't somebody come up
with a word for "run-batted-in"?
The last date that applies all odd
cyphers is 11-19-1999.
That will be the last day with all odd
digits until 1-1-3111.
The next all even-digit day will be 2-2-2000,
first since 8-28-888.