We got the following email from Val Sherwell about the way the year 2010 should be pronounced…
I have got you in my sights; nothing I might say about the quality of your program which is always interesting, but because you refer to the year as ‘Two thousand and ten’. Why on earth anyone would use that long-winded expression is beyond me. Never before, ever, has the year not been expressed in a neat fashion like 1920, 1500. So why not twenty ten? I have addressed several people on RN about this, and thankfully they have dropped the ‘two thousand and blah blah’, though I am sure this is not because I was the only one who wrote about it. Thank you. Maybe next week it will be twenty ten, one can only hope.
A good question. And here was my response…
Okay, now I have some time for a decent reply. By the way, you are in fact the only person who has raised this with me.
I wasn’t actually aware that I expressed the year in the way that you described, but there we are. That said, on reflection I think it’s not a bad way to describe it.
I would argue that there was a change in the naming convention at the beginning of this century (actually in the final year of last century to be accurate, ie: the year 2000).
Throughout this first decade of the 21st Century there was near universal acceptance of the longer form of description, ie: it was commonplace to describe 2008 as ‘two-thousand and eight’, not ‘twenty-o-eight’. Even the year 2000 was described in this way, never as ‘twenty-hundred’.
This was very different (as you point out) from past centuries, where for instance 1908 was universally described as ‘nineteen-o-eight’ and the year 1900 as ‘nineteen hundred’. So in a sense my usage of ‘two-thousand and ten’ could be argued to be more consistent than ‘twenty ten’.
I am also a believer in the idea that we should, by and large, follow common discourse and I think most ordinary people say ‘two thousand and ten’. Though I stand to be corrected and certainly wouldn’t die in a ditch over it. Will also have to check what the ABC style-guide says.
And Val’s response to my response…
Sure. I think the two thousand and ….. came about because somehow twenty whatever is difficult when you have another nought in front of the 20. However, having said ,that once you get to a whole number, i.e. 10 it is much easier, neater and closer to our historical way of expressing the year.
I hear lots of people using ‘twenty ten’, and many using what I call the long-winded way. As you say, what it really matters is a row of beans. Wonder what your blog readers will think. Let me know as I do not waste time on blogs, too too busy reading silly jokes!