Help me! What year are we in?

January 5, 2010

The late language maven William Safire would have been helpful at this point but, as stated, he is late, having passed away in 2009.

So here’s my problem for you. The year that Safire passed away in — excuse me — in which Safire passed away, is nearly always expressed verbally as two-thousand-and-nine. Occasionally, a  person might say just two-thousand-nine, but that is just sloppy. It is rarely, if ever, expressed as twenty-oh-nine.

What year are we in now, then? Is it two-thousand-and-ten as the past decade’s use would suggest? Or is it twenty-ten, as in ninteeen-sixty-eight and so on?

Before you answer, however, consider this:

  • 2000 was inevitably referred to as the-year-two-thousand.
  • 1907 was occasionally  spoken of as nineteen-hundred-and-seven but usually as nineteen-oh-seven.
  • 1066 is always ten-sixty-six, never one-thousand-and-sixty-six.
  • The film ’2001: A Space Odyssey’ has always been two-thousand-and-one.
  • Its follow up, ’2010′, followed up as two-thousand-and-ten, at least as far as I can recall.
  • Britain’s Olympics in 2012 are usually referred to as twenty-twelve.
  • Sometimes they are referred to as the two-thousand-and-twelve  Games.

Do not dimiss this serious matter. There are 990 years to get through before the-year-three-thousand and we have future generations to consider.

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    "Chief Desk Editor, Economics & Markets, based in London. Previously European Investment Correspondent, Bureau Chief for Greece and Cyprus in Athens and Senior Correspondent for the European Union in Brussels. Began career covering U.S. politics in Washington D.C."
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