The Native: The Internal Order of Swedish Dates

2011-03-10. Published in Life in Gothenburg
by Nils Pasi

What time is it? What day is it? Is this a date? Yes, it is sometimes difficult to know. Is it a date, or is it not. When I look at her across the table, I cannot tell. So I ask, and she informs me that, yes, it is a date. In fact, it is the 3rd of the 3rd. Upon seeing my confused expressions, she elaborate: "yes, the 3rd day in March, that is."

It is weird, or inconvenient, I sometimes think, that different countries should write dates differently. 03-03-03, for example, is that March the 3rd 2003, or is it the 3rd of March 2003? To complicate matters further, it is neither in Sweden. According to the Swedish way of writing dates, the year comes first, then the month and lastly the day of the month. So, it should really be read as 2003, March the 3rd. So you see, if you didn't know how to read it the Swedish way, you'd have no idea what particular day that date referred to! ...Err, right?

Well, I guess, in some cases it doesn't matter that much. At other times, however, it does. Take 11-03-04, for example. Is that the 3rd of April 2011, the 4th of March 2011, the 11th of March 2004, the 3rd of November of 2004, the… well, anyway, it's hard to tell, isn't it? So remember: year-month-day, that's the Swedish way. So, now you know how to read those tricky expiry dates that don't specify the month in letters. Well, unless of course what you are buying happens to be imported from a country that writes dates differently… Aishh?!?!?

Anyway, wouldn't it be nice if we used symbols or characters to clarify matters: 2011年3月4日 (you may need to have Chinese characters installed in order to see this)? But until we do something similar in Sweden, I rather like the middle road: 2011 March 4. Now, as for Dates... ♥♥♥

/Nils, team 2011