Friday, January 01, 2010

To twenty or not to twenty

Even before it began, this New Year was causing controversy in the English-speaking world, something that promises to heat up now the year has begun—well, if any linguistic disagreement can be expressed in terms implying passion. The question before us: How shall we pronounce “2010”? We could follow the example of the previous century and say “twenty ten”, or we could follow the example of the first decade of this one and say “two thousand, ten”.

Most of us born in the latter part of the twentieth century were taught to say the year as, for example, “nineteen eighty-four” or “nineteen ninety-six”. Others, perhaps older or wanting so sound more formal or dramatic, would sometimes add “hundred”, as in “nineteen hundred, twenty-eight”, and some would even add “and”, as in “nineteen hundred and twenty-eight”.

Obviously it would be absurd to say “twenty hundred, ten”, with or without an “and”, but “two thousand ten” is similar—and has some precedent. In the first part of this century, most people said, for example, “two thousand seven” because “twenty, seven” sounded like 27. I heard some TV people try out “twenty oh-seven”, but that sounded odd.

Now that we’re past the “naughties”, we have the option choosing. Which will—and which should—win? Will it be “twenty ten” or “two thousand, ten”?

I’ll be saying “twenty ten” and I don’t really care what others say—but I hope the fans of “two thousand” don’t use the archaic “and”.

What way of saying the year do you like?


LordByronIL said...

"Back in the day" when the milennium changed, folks - mostly media - said two thousand one, two thousand two, etc. Now they've jumped over to the twenty ten. I think the century had to become a teenager before it went there. ha.
My dad would have said he was born in nineteen hundred but mom would say she was born in nineteen oh one.
oh well, it's just one. breath. after. another. :-)

Reed said...

OMG! For some reason I missed this over the past 10 years -- I love it that I can say 20 - number. It feels very futuristic which is something I could use right now.


photogreg said...

twenty ten for me

Roger Owen Green said...

I'll deconstruct it from the other way: 2110 will be twenty-one ten. Likewise twenty-ten (2010) nineteen-ten (1910). I've been hearing about the twenty-ten Olympics.

But then, I think they'll say for 2101, twenty-one oh one; the two thousand-one construction I blame on Kubrick and Clarke.

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

Thanks everyone! I'm still sticking with "twenty ten" but I've heard myself utter the odd "two thousand ten". Must just be a hangover from the old year.