Friday, December 31, 2010

The Last Day of the Year

And presumably the last year of this decade since many debated that the last decade began in 2001 and thus that that 2011 begins the next one. And there was never any decision on what to call the first decade of a century. Was there really any debate over that? And just how do we pronounce next year? Everyone's been saying "twenty-eleven," but is that correct or is "two thousand eleven" correct? The "twenty" pronunciation may have fewer syllables, but it just doesn't roll off the tongue the way saying "nineteen __" did in the last century. The novel and movie 2001: A Space Odyssey may be what prompted the "two-thousand" pronunciation used in 2000 to 2009 and it created fewer syllables than "twenty" or "twenty-hundred" or "twenty-oh__" would have had. And "two thousand eleven" isn't as big a mouthful as pronouncing 19__ as "nineteen hundred and __" "or one thousand nine hundred ___" would have been.
Just came across this link:
With centuries, the commonly used English labels happened to use counting terminology: 19th century, 20th century, etc. Some socially inept people, failing to understand the difference between English usage and math, used this coincidence as a basis for quibbling.

We don’t label decades the same way as centuries: for example, people refer often to the 1960s and never to the 197th decade. There is no coincidence of terminology to quibble over. Regardless of whether 1970 fell outside the 197th decade from the perspective of a counting quibble, 1970 has never been part of the 1960s in the context of how people use that label to communicate.

While words don’t have objective meanings, a dictionary is an excellent tool for confirming how a word will be understood in actual usage. Random House (via defines decade as: “A period of ten years beginning with a year whose last digit is zero: the decade of the 1980s.”

Interesting. It certainly seems too cumbersome to try to number decades rather than refer to them as the 1960s, etc. But since no name of the recently passed decade was agreed upon, how will be reference this decade in the future? We can always say " the first decade of the 21st century," but I can just imagine those who are debating the pronunciation of 2011 will not want to make sucha wordy reference

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