Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Are these dates correctly pronounced? Should it be 'dash' or 'hyphen'? Roman one, or '/aɪ/'?

27/I-1980, twenty-seven, slash, Roman one, dash/hypen, nineteen eighty

4/II-1936 Four slash Roman two dash nineteen thirty-six

11/III-1908 eleven slash Roman three dash nineteen-eight

1/IV-1981 one slash Roman four dash nineteen eighty-one

29/V-1949 twenty-nine slash Roman five dash nineteen forty-nine

13/VI-1946 thirteen slash Roman six dash nineteen forty-six

14/VII-1959 fourteen slash Roman seven dash nineteen fifty-nine

12/VIII-1967 twelve slash Roman eight dash nineteen sixty-seven

4/IX-1966 four slash Roman nine dash nineteen sixty-six

28/X-1965 twenty-eight slash Roman ten dash nineteen sixty-five

5/XI-1964 five slash Roman eleven dash nineteen sixty-four

3/XII-1927 three slash Roman twelve dash nineteen twenty-seven.

share|improve this question
5  
Who writes dates like this in the first place? If they're to represent a date, then I would suggest just saying the date (e.g. "the twenty-eight of October, nineteen sixty-five"). If you're trying to express the fact that it's written with Roman numerals, you ought to tell this to your audience but eschew actually spelling it out for each date. Edit: I would say "Roman numeral" instead of "Roman", but then why not indicate "Arabic [numeral]" directly before and after? I don't understand what you're trying to accomplish here. –  Zairja Sep 13 '12 at 18:55
    
This is taken from a Russian textbook. –  Monica Sep 13 '12 at 18:57
12  
No English speakers would recognize that those are dates!!! –  tchrist Sep 13 '12 at 19:58
2  
In point of fact, neither @tchrist nor myself did recognize these strings as dates when you and us discussed the pronunciation of them in chat prior to your posting the question. Which is why we suggested things such as "eye" or "Roman one" in the first place. No sane person would pronounce "January" as "Roman one" or "eye", of course. –  RegDwigнt Sep 13 '12 at 21:19
1  
@FumbleFingers Never is putting it a bit strongly. I've seen dates written as 14-ix-12 fairly often; but that may be a particular custom and practice within a single organisation. –  Andrew Leach Sep 14 '12 at 6:51
show 5 more comments

closed as not constructive by FumbleFingers, Mitch, MετάEd, kiamlaluno, StoneyB Sep 16 '12 at 16:55

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

1 Answer

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I would say no, those aren't the correct pronunciations.

The problem with dates is that they have written representations, and they are also spoken, but the two aren't necessarily intertwined. In other words, when saying a date aloud, I don't generally read it, I simply say it.

As an analogy, this is not unlike reading math equations. I might see one of these on a written page:

  • a2 + b2 = c2
  • f(x) = x3 - cos(x)

but I would never say (or pronounce) those as:

  • a superscripted two plus b superscripted two equals sign c superscripted 2
  • f open parenthesis x close parenthesis equals x superscripted 3 dash cos open paren x close paren

(not unless I was in a typesetting shop).

Instead, I would say (or "pronounce") those as:

  • a-squared plus b-squared equals c-squared
  • f of x equals x cubed minus cosine x

There's a difference between a notation and a pronunciation; dates work much the same.

As an example, a letter might have a date in the upper right-hand corner, and it could look like any of these:

  • September 13, 2012
  • 13 Sep 12
  • 9-13-2012
  • 9/13/12 (or, 13/9/12)
  • 13/IX-2012 (as pointed out earlier, this format would be very rare)

But, let's say I was going to read this letter aloud to an audience. Irrespective of how the date is written on the letter, I might say any of the following:

  • This letter is dated September 13th, two-thousand twelve
  • This letter is dated 13 September, two-thousand twelve
  • This letter is dated the 13th of September of this year (assuming it's still 2012)

This all varies according to the speaker, of course – some speakers might say the date a little differently. What's worth noting, however, is that, if I was doing the narration, I would almost assuredly NOT say any of these:

  • This letter is dated September thirteen comma, two thousand twelve
  • This letter is dated thirteen Sep twelve
  • This letter is dated nine dash thirteen dash twenty twelve
  • This letter is dated nine slash thirteen slash twelve
  • This letter is dated thirteen Roman twelve dash twenty twelve

Pretty much the only time I can imagine myself speaking a date in that fashion is if someone asked me a question such as:

  • How would you like me to write that date down? or,
  • How did the author write that date on the letter?

In that case, I might say something like "nine dash thirteen dash twenty twelve" – but that is a rare exception.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.