Numbers--not always so universal

There are certain things in life that we take for granted.  Depending on the identity of the "we," there are many things in life we take for granted.  This is why math is so clever.  Mathematicians start out their equations with what is given.  Numbers are not very trusting.  They like their rules and to enter their world, you must play by their rules.  Other cultures can be the same way, as can other cultures' numbers.  Let's begin with pricing.  If you come from the States, you might expect to see prices like "2.99" while shopping.  Here, you would likely see "2,99."  Actually, you would probably more likely see "2,90" or "2,-."  However, this can be inconsistent.  Some places will use commas in numeration like is typical in the ol' US of A.  one easy way to break yourself from wondering whether you are either getting a great deal on something or paying an atrocious amount is to look at the number of digits following the punctuation (ie two digits indicates decimal notation).  As such, this is not the type of numerical feat to which I often fall prey.

Rather, my struggle is with the day of the month.  Here the notation is day/month/year as opposed to the month/day/year drilled into my head since I could write.  (That would make today 14/10/11.)  I recall teachers militarily enforcing writing our first name, last initial, class/cubby number, and the date (written month/day/year) on all of our spelling, reading, math, and science papers.  Rather, I recall teachers requiring these statistics on any paper which would pass from our 7-year-old hands to her desk.  I am adjusting fairly well to this system, however, I find myself rather inconsistent in my personal usage.  In opening up some files stored by date, I found the following titles: 1 October 2011, 4 září 2011, 08.27.11, April 11 2011.  I can't decide on a language, let alone an order for the dates.  This could be a rather serious stumbling block in communication, considering that my birthday is on a day of the month less than 12.  I could write it the "American way," beginning with the month: 04/02 or the "Czech way": 02/04 and still have a valid day of the year.

Either notation leads me to the same dilemma--inconsistency.  In the public sphere here, there's no room for writing the month first, whereas what I title my files will only confuse myself in the future.  I have used hybrids of Czech and English in conversations (Czechlish) as well as Czech and Spanish (Španěský--still trying to properly name this one) with success, but numbers are quite stubborn.  People expect math and numbers to be universal and not yet another arena of intercultural misunderstanding.  So, for the good of all involved, I must train my brain to order my days before my months and to generally express myself through the metric system.  (I am thankful that that was somewhat drilled into my head during k-12 education as well.)


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