Monday, January 25, 2010

How to pronounce the current year...

All right, folks, let's go through this real quick and then be done with it. There are a few ways to pronounce this current year, but only one of them is correct. Drum roll? Why bother?

"Twenty ten."

That is what year it is.

Allow me to cite precedent. Most of you reading this were probably alive before the turn of the millennium, correct? Cool. Then how did you pronounce this year?


Unless you have some sort of bizarre learning disability, or wanted to sound intentionally or ironically overeducated, you pronounced it "nineteen ninety-two."

Not "one-thousand nine-hundred ninety-two." Not "nineteen hundred ninety-two." And, God forbid, not "nineteen hundred and ninety-two." It was "nineteen ninety-two."

"And"? Since when do we say "and" inside our years? We're not adding two separate numbers. We don't have two thousand years here and ten years over there.

Now I'll be the first to admit that the last decade was confusing. We never did get a handle on the whole "aught" situation. Most of us got through it by omitting "two thousand" or "twenty" as much as possible, and focusing exclusively on "oh-four," "oh-nine," etc. (Even though "oh" itself is wrong -- "oh" is a letter, "zero" is a number. Once again, we seek precedent: our wise elders pronounced years in the first decade of the last century "oh-whatever," so we did the same this century.) But we kept our heads down and got through that grammatically horrible decade. Now we're on the other side of it, and it's time to right this ship.

I expect to hear mistakes throughout this year, and I'll be as forgiving as possible. But folks, by the time next year rolls around, you'd better have this thing straight. The pronunciation of this year may be (a tiny bit) confusing, but next year obviously demands to be pronounced "twenty eleven." Anybody I hear say "two thousand and eleven" gets stabbed. By me. End of story.

Your enforcer,

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