Sunday, 15 August 2010

“August Seven”, "August seventh" or "August the seventh"

A reader asks why it is (as it seems to him) increasingly common for Americans to say "August seven" instead of "August seventh" or "August the seventh" for 08/07/09 ("Coming August seven to a theater near you!"). I have done no investigation on this (it would need intensive quantitative corpus study over dated corpora that do not have Google's propensity for collapsing common typographical variants). The reader may be wrong to think the practice has been increasing: the Recency Effect has not been repealed. So I offer nothing but the following observation. For some time there has been a trend toward abolishing typographical clutter in print ("Mr Jones" for "Mr. Jones"; even "ie" and "eg" for "i.e." and "e.g."), particularly though not exclusively in published American English; and American English also idiomatically eliminates various prepositions here and there (as in "See you Tuesday" for "See you on Tuesday"). If such abbreviatory practices led to writing "7″ for "7th" or "the 7th", spelling pronunciation might be responsible for the resultant habit spreading in spoken American English.


No comments: