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Canada English Date Format

asked 2017-08-10 22:27:25 +0200

jcobban gravatar image

In Canada the official standard date format is day month year, as opposed to the American month day, year. However that is not one of the options listed for formatting dates when I have set the Language to English (Canada) although I am offered the strange "dd. Month yyyy". Why would anyone want a period after the day of the month? I can get my desired formats by specifying English (UK). Living next to the "elephant" as our current Prime Minister's father was wont to say, means that colloquially we tend to follow American practices in many things, although we still refer to the last letter of the alphabet as "zed". Indeed Canada Customs agents have been known to use that as a Shibboleth. The official date format of dd/mm/yyyy was chosen because it is both the British standard and the French standard.

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Living next to the "elephant" ... we tend to follow American practices in many things.
Don't do it in this case. The USA are still the only relevant country using the funny "mid-endian" date format.They should proudly remain alone with this famous invention. By the way: Nobody should try to compete with an elephant concerning shit.

Lupp gravatar imageLupp ( 2017-08-11 00:43:16 +0200 )edit

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answered 2017-08-12 20:41:33 +0200

Lupp gravatar image

updated 2017-08-12 20:44:24 +0200

Concerning the original question "Why would anyone want a period after the day of the month?"

I just found the time to have a look into the respective en.wikipedia article. I may have missed some, but found 37 countries, big ones among them, where a frequently used short format has a period behind the d or dd part. 14 of these countries also use the period in this way with long (month-name) formats. Nearest to the Canadian questioner such a country is Greenland.

About 20 of the countries also use the period as the (main) ordinal marker. At least in the range of the German language this is specifically consistent as general usage puts the day number ordinal also in spoken language (like English does). I do not know much about dates in handwriting an spoken languages otherwise.

Concerning the actual issue:
For M/D/Y I found the USA, their colonial territories and "free associates", and minority use in Canada, Greenland, Israel (in English print), Kenya, Malaysia, Pakistan, Panama, Philippines (long formats), Saudi Arabia, Somalia (long formats), South Korea (a bit, not in Korean), Togo (a bit). That's it. Very impressive?
Nonetheless some administrators of websites and forums and print media editors seem to dream the elepahnt nightmare, too.
YYYY-MM-DD (ISO 8601 extended ) is the only internationally approved format for written dates in everyday use. We all should use it - always with 4 digits for the year.

It is the only format combining these important advantages:
-1- Internationally comprehensible without any additional explanation
-2- Easily human readable
-3- Sortable by software if given as text without complicated workarounds
-4- Recognised locale-independent by spreadsheets if conversion to numeric representation is wanted/needed.

Make the right choice!

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(Though, user is not always authoritative to make that choice, unfortunately.)

Mike Kaganski gravatar imageMike Kaganski ( 2017-08-12 21:05:08 +0200 )edit

I once installed a piece of IBM software. We were puzzled that it crashed every month from the 23rd to the end of the month. It had been written assuming (when you assume you make an ass out of u and me) that EVERYBODY used the mmddyy date format, so it crashed because the "month" was used in a calculation assuming it was never greater than 12.

jcobban gravatar imagejcobban ( 2017-08-14 21:35:19 +0200 )edit

One of the things I find fascinating about the US exceptionalism with respect to dates is that the most important date in the entire American year is always expressed ddmmyy. I am referring to the "Fourth of July".

jcobban gravatar imagejcobban ( 2017-08-14 21:37:24 +0200 )edit

answered 2017-08-10 22:45:30 +0200

Mike Kaganski gravatar image

Hm. Quite an interesting reading... but strangely placed on Ask site (meant to ask questions), while the only question in the text is "Why would anyone want a period after the day of the month?" - supposedly not the question asker actually intended to get answers for.

Ok. First of all: have you set your locale properly? In LibreOffice, the pre-defined set of formats (including dates) depends on locale that is set in menu Tools-Options-Language Settings-Languages. Actually, you may also set language for selected cells only, in Format Cells dialog.

But as I see, there's no "dd/mm/yyyy" format when you choose English (Canada) AFAIKT. So, the questions are:

  1. How to get required formatting that you need? For that, put DD/MM/YYYY into Format Code. You may do it for a cell or selected range, or for a cell style. You may save a spreadsheet with required format as a template to be used later.
  2. How to make it so that LibreOffice would have required (standard for Canada, as you say) format available without need to type it yourself? For that, you need to file an enhancement request to our Bugzilla with description why you believe this format must be in presets list for given locale.
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Asked: 2017-08-10 22:27:25 +0200

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