Friday, January 1, 2010

Welcome to the new year and the debates

Hello and welcome to 2010. How to pronounce has been debate that strangely wasn't resolved before today began. Is it "twenty-ten" or "two thousand-ten"? A lot of people seem to want to go with "twenty-ten," which IMO, doesn't sound right. "Yes, we called years in the last century "nineteen__", but ""twenty" just doesn't roll off the tongue with the same mellifluousness as "nineteen," "eighteen," etc. Yet right now I am watching my local news and I have heard them say "twenty-ten" at least twice already. But a person being interviewed just said "two thousand ten." It's going to cause some inconsistencies if the "twenty__" use is adopted for this year and beyond. Will we still refer to events in the years 2000-2009 using the "two thousand" pronunciations? Will we still say the 9/11 attack occurred in "two thousand one"? Or that TV went all digital in "two thousand nine"? Likely the year 2000 was pronounced "two thousand" because it was for many years referred to as such when people spoke of the dawning of the new millennium. And no doubt we called the following year "two thousand one" because of the novel and its subsequent hit movie, and that the rest of the decade (2002-2009) used the "two thousand" pronunciation by analogy. 2000 was also called Y2K as people were worried their computers might read the year 2000 as 1900.

Other things that occurred to me. When I was in high school at our rallies, we would often shout out our graduation years referring to them by their individual numbers. I graduated in 1989, and we shouted it out as "one-nine-eight-nine." I only just began to wonder who the class of 2000 did this. "Two-zero-zero-zero" sounds too awkward to call out and "two-oh-oh-oh" sounds more like they're gasping in pain! We have also often referred to years by the last two digits when referencing things such as graduating classes, years of car models, or annual events or holidays. For example saying "the graduating class of '89." Though as far as I can recall, no one ever referred to 2000 verbally as "00", even though many wrote the year that way when they had to write the date on a check or a homework assignment. How would they have pronounced "00"? The subsequent year, however were occasionally referred to as "oh-one" through "oh-nine." But it going to sound strange say "the graduating class of '10." Ads for 2010 cars are actually saying the year in full, some using "two thousand ten," some using "twenty-ten."

We're just able to take shortcuts in English. It's obvious that it was easier to say "nineteen__" than either "one thousand nine hundred" or "nineteen hundred__" on a daily basis when using 1989 for instance to refer to the year. We must say it in full, "One thousand nine hundred eighty-nine" when using ti as a number and not the year. However, 1989 in Spanish is always "mil noviecientos ochenta y nueve" whether it refers to the year or a number (the latter usually written with a comma). The current year in Spanish is "dos mil diez." Numbers over 1000 in Spanish are never referred to as hundreds.

Another debate that has been occurring is whether the new decade has begun. Many say that 2001, not 2000, was the beginning of the last decade and of the current century and millennium, because there was no year 0. But many insist that were a now in a new decade and newspapers and other media are doing decade recaps of the best and worst of this and that.

Enough debating for now, let's begin to enjoy the new year!

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