Different flavours of English

Watching the lunchtime Sky News, I was struck by a new (to me) abbreviation to describe an event – 21/7.

This is to do with three men convicted today of planning suicide bomb attacks on the London transport system in 2005, exactly two weeks after 7/7.

There’s another one – 7/7. I’m sure everyone know what 7/7 means – the infamous London bombings on July 7, 2005.

And of course the whole world knows about 9/11.

These examples just illustrate one of the difficulties with different flavours of English.

In the UK, we express date abbreviations as day-month-year, as in 21/7/07 (even though we might express it in full as July 21, 2007). In the US, they do it month-day-year, as in 7/21/07.

7/7 is an easy one – the same abbreviation in any version of English. 9/11 is special and is easily understood over here. 21/7 would give most Americans a double-take moment before they realize it’s an inverse (to them) date as there are no months beyond 12.

It’s all rather absurd, isn’t it? If anyone does get confused sometimes, imagine how people whose first language isn’t English must feel.

So the sooner our American friends learn how to use English properly, the simpler things will be :)

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. jed baxter

    Absolutely Neveille. My wife and I were just saying the same things after watching the same news item!!!

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