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.

  • 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, 2012 at 18:55
  • 13
    No English speakers would recognize that those are dates!!!
    – tchrist
    Sep 13, 2012 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, 2012 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, 2012 at 6:51
  • 2
    @Fumble I think that's probably the reason it's written in lower-case, complete with dots. It's entirely unambiguous.
    – Andrew Leach
    Sep 14, 2012 at 11:55

1 Answer 1


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.

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