Sunday, December 27, 2009

2010: "Twenty Ten" Has Only Three Syllables

I'm looking forward to the turn of the new year for multiple reasons, but one of them is purely linguistic. "Two Thousand and Nine" has five syllables. It's a mouthful, as has been every year for the last decade. "Twenty" is a much speedier way of saying "Two Thousand", but it hasn't worked for the last ten years. Saying "Twenty Nine" is confusing and makes you sound like you've gone two thousand years back in time.* But with "Twenty Ten" we can finally get back to the proper year designations we were used to in the 20th Century.

Start practicing now. Don't be one of "those people" still using the "two thousand" designation into the double digit suffix period. You'll sound silly, or worse, pretentious. It will elicit the same response from people that you get today when you begin an email with, "This is just an FYI" (FYI stands for "For Your Information"'s not a noun. Get rid of the "an".)

"Twenty Ten". It's cool. It's efficient. It's the future. In five days.

*People could have said, "Twenty Oh Nine". That was good enough for the first decade of every previous century, and it would have been one less syllable. But that wasn't dramatic enough for people obsessed with the millennial switch. "Twenty Oh One: A Space Odyssey" doesn't pop nearly as well as "Two thousand and one." I'm sure it's the newness of the experience, because I know I've heard people refer to the year 1009 as, "the year Ten Oh Nine".

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