Time travel? I doubt it.

Here is a link to a Daily Mail article about Easter Island. In it, the writer (and the editor, if indeed there was one) used “AD” instead of “BC,” resulting in an interesting chronological conundrum. As Steve Miller said in his comment at Facebook, from where I stole this outright: “A major typo, or were the Red Hats of Easter Island quarried in the past by our descendants in the distant future?”

The writer not only goofed on the time frame for this quarrying at Easter Island, but also messed up the placement of the notation. I’m sure that what was meant is “1200 to 1300 CE” or “AD 1200 to 1300.” Twelve or thirteen thousand years is wrong in either case. Now, on to the picky copy editing and proofreading stuff.

Current usage favors the abbreviations “CE” and “BCE” (for “Common Era” and “Before Common Era”) to denote the division of time by the birth of Christ. (My addled brain first remembered it as “Before Christian Era.” That is wrong. Mea culpa.)  Previously the abbreviations were “BC” (“Before Christ”) and “AD” (“Anno Domini,” meaning “in the year of Our Lord”). The current usage is more secular in nature, acknowledging the time rather than the person of Christ. I am not here to debate the change in usage, but I will point out that one needs to keep these simple rules in mind.

“BC,” “BCE,” and “CE” all follow the numerically-written date, like this: 10,000,000 BC, or 500 BCE, or 1256 CE.

“AD” precedes the numerically-written date, and here is why. It means “in the year of Our Lord.” One would not say “That happened in 1256 in the year of Our Lord.” One would say “That happened in the year of Our Lord, 1256.” Here is another link, this time to a Wikipedia article about the origin of the “AD” and “BC” designations, first used in 525 AD. (Heh.)


3 thoughts on “Time travel? I doubt it.

  1. I was told that CE and BCE stood for “Common Era” and “Before Common Era,” respectively. Which ones should I be using?


  2. Y’know . . . you’re right. I guess that’s a holdover for me. You’re right.

    I MADE A MISTAKE AGAIN! ::Kermitflail::

    I won’t even correct it. I’ll leave it for posterity. (Or posteriors. Or something.) No–I’ll correct it and then admit my error. Best of both worlds.

    Yes. “Before Common Era” and “Common Era.” Yes. (Not that the other doesn’t make sense, but it isn’t as correct or as secular. Yes.)


  3. I vote that the piece be updated to reflect the time travel aspect, which means adjusting the verb tense…to future past perfect? “…between 12000 to 13000 AD Puna Pau will have had switched from producing statues to hats.”

    And there’s another problem you didn’t even bring up: “between N to N” should be “between N and N.” Five mistakes in five words–I’m guessing this didn’t have an editor.


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