BC vs AD

Why is it, when time is measured, the the time before christ (BC) is in english and the time after christ (AD) is in latin?

I don’t think we’ve settled it with absolute certainty when this has come up on earlier threads.

My best guess is that when Europeans began dating things to the Year of the Lord/Anno Domini, they were not spending much time working out continuous time-lines. For the most part they were simply establishing current, ongoing dates in the common educated language of the time and place, Latin. When History and Historiography began to be treated as an academic discipline, the historians who spoke English simply used the initials of their own language and dated things Before Christ.

For the last 40 years, or so, the academics have been using English for both sets of abbreviations: C.E., Current Era and B.C.E., Before (the) Current Era.

interesting question , wonder why i never thought of it before…

i’m not sure whether i should waste an entirely new thread on this, so i’m just inserting it here. but what did people call B.C. during the B.C. years ? if you don’t know, please don’t speculate and let’s stick to the OP. thanks.

A lot of the ancient civilizations didn’t use a single continuous year scale. Instead they described the year by which ruler was in power, and which year it was in that ruler’s reign. For instance, the temple at Abu Simbel was built from the 26th to 34th year of Ramses II.

I have actually asked the exact same question and I recieved the correct answer, and now I have the honor of imparting this information upon you. From what I remember, there was no universal name for the years across the globe, rather it was defined locally. It was usually defined by the year of the reign of the ruling king. For example, Johnwas born in the seventh year in the reign of Bob. This is what I have heard, so if this is not correct I am sorry.

It depends where they were. Romans dated things, for example, from the supposed founding of the city of Rome, so a Roman date would be 500 A.U.C., for exampe (A.U.C.was an appreviation for the Latin term “after the city was built”) Less formally, the Romans would date things referring to who was counsel. A person might say, “I was born when Lucius Cassius Longinus and Gaius Marius were consuls”

man! where do you guys get your information from man ? it’s amazing, this straight dope place. thanks LiR 'n Cap’n A.

i was born in the sixth year of the straight dope :slight_smile: 6 S.D.

Minor quibble: C.E. means common era:


A.D. (anno domini, or “in the year of our Lord”) was first created in A.D. 531 by Dionysius Exiguus, who was the first to choose to date from the birth of Jesus (he got it wrong, though) and the one who made the B.C./A.D. divide where it now is. Everyone scholarly wrote in Latin then, so it was in Latin. B.C., on the other hand, would not be created for a much longer time. The first documented use of B.C. was in 1627 by the French astronomer Denis Petau. Presumably, the English made the switch to B.C. from whatever “Before Christ” is in French (apres Christ?).

Y’know, every time I go to post on CE = Common Era, I remember that (but not why) I got corrected the last time I posted, and I change it to “Current Era”–setting myself up for the same go-round on the next occurrence.

Protesilaus, my Petit Larousse uses the abbreviation “av. J.-C.” which I assume is an abbreviation for “avant Jésus-Christ” - “before Jesus Christ.”

The poster formerly known as jti (sig™ inserted at request of dantheman, and to placate Sue Duhnym)

You might want to try searching the Archives:
Why is BC an English abbreviation while AD is a Latin one?