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General date syntax

A date is a string, possibly empty, containing many items separated by whitespace. The whitespace may be omitted when no ambiguity arises. The empty string means the beginning of today (i.e., midnight). Order of the items is immaterial. A date string may contain many flavors of items:

We describe each of these item types in turn, below.

A few numbers may be written out in words in most contexts. This is most useful for specifying day of the week items or relative items (see below). Here is the list: `first' for 1, `next' for 2, `third' for 3, `fourth' for 4, `fifth' for 5, `sixth' for 6, `seventh' for 7, `eighth' for 8, `ninth' for 9, `tenth' for 10, `eleventh' for 11 and `twelfth' for 12. Also, `last' means exactly @math{-1}.

When a month is written this way, it is still considered to be written numerically, instead of being "spelled in full"; this changes the allowed strings.

Alphabetic case is completely ignored in dates. Comments may be introduced between round parentheses, as long as included parentheses are properly nested. Hyphens not followed by a digit are currently ignored. Leading zeros on numbers are ignored.

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