Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Year Lingo - How Do YOU Say 2010?

A couple of weeks ago (good thing I found this scribbled note I stuck in my purse, and yes, I know I misspelled 'Siegel' in my note... Who knew?) I heard a feature story on NPR’s All Things Considered that really made me scowl. Permit me to vent.

The discussion was about whether next year should be called “two-thousand ten” or “twenty-ten”. BFD, right? But still…

Robert Siegel is the host of the program, and he interviewed four people: the secretary of state of Iowa, a man who runs a mail order planner/calendar business, a spokesman for the U.S. Olympic Committee, and the art director of an ad agency in Portland, Oregon. Among them they presented both sides of the argument.

Now before I launch into my spiel about my thinking on this, is anyone else wondering why it’s more important to consider next year, than it would have been to ask whether this year should have been “twenty-oh-nine” versus “two-thousand nine”? I’m just asking…

So here’s the thing. Although both concepts had support, the gist of their interviewees’ opinions seemed to indicate that only “two-thousand ten” offers the dignity that we should accord this upcoming year, and that “twenty-ten” is basically too casual to be considered proper. I respectfully disagree.

Think of the most respected and esteemed years in our nation’s history. Columbus discovered America in_______. Class? Right—1492. Always “fourteen ninety-two”, never “one thousand four hundred ninety-two.” The year of our founding? Bueller? Exactly—1776. “Seventeen seventy-six.” No disrespect implied; we say it with pride and respect. And our last example: Party like it’s ________. Anyone? Of course—1999 “Nineteen ninety-nine.” Respect is front and center in all of those years, and the ones before and since. It has been our custom and our convention to name our years this way. What’s the big deal?

So where’s the real problem here? Yes, the ‘experts’ invoked both the movie “2001- A Space Odyssey” and the incredibly stupid song from the ‘70s, “In the Year 2525” as competing reasons for which way to go on this urgent and pressing issue of the day. But let’s decide soon—there are only twenty-two days left before the new year. Or should I say three weeks and a day? Or should I say 11/15 of a month? Or should I say 528 (five-hundred twenty-eight) hours? Or should I … Nope. I’m done.


  1. I had no idea the way people say a number should be that important! I feel so much better now that I am enlightened! lol Of course, I'll call it by whatever comes out of my mouth at the time, be it "two-thousand & ten" or the simpler, easier "twenty-ten". How funny that people are debating this!

  2. They really interviewed people about this issue? Wow! I'll weigh in with my opinion. Definitely Twenty Ten.

  3. A local TV reporter has been saying twenty-oh-nine all year and it DRIVES ME CRAZY. And just the other day in the office, someone accidentally said twenty-oh-ten. So if I DO say twenty-ten, I hope I get it right!

  4. I have gotten so used to saying o'1 through 9.
    So far I have been caught twice refering to next year as O'ten, I never put much thought into it.

    Now that I have thought about it, I guess I would have to go with twenty-ten.

  5. Wow! That's the weirdest debate I've heard! Seriously? I'm with you. What's so difficult about two thousand ten?

  6. Hey Leah, I'm not sure any of them are right; they're comparing apples with oranges. They're comparing spoken numbers that are measured in hundreds and those that have NO hundreds, only thousands. The spoken form of the latter is more awkward. In England we said "Nineteen ninety nine" and say "Two thousand AND nine". We will almost certainly say "two thousand and ten" next year. Indigo