Article Archive >> Featured Topics

What Will The New Year Be Called?

What Will The New Year Be Called?
By William L. Bulla

What are you calling the new year? Last century, we were all very comfy saying nineteen (as opposed to the cumbersome one thousand nine hundred). When 1999 turned into 2000, naming the year the long way - two thousand one, two thousand two - became pretty much standard. It seemed logical to assume we might all say twenty (after all there is plenty of precedent for this). However, then we got to 2001, and everyone says two thousand one. And it seems that everyone's gotten pretty comfy with two thousand.
But with the arrival of the first decade mark of the new century, will it be two thousand ten or twenty-ten? Among experts, and the general public, there seems to be a debate of what term should be used. As we look back we have called former years as eighteen-ten and nineteen-ten, so I would imagine we will call the new year twenty-ten.
For several centuries we've pronounced years in common usage by two two-digit numbers. The year 1999 was nineteen ninety-nine. The year 1776 was seventeen seventy-six. When the 21st century hit, however, we changed this. For the last eight and a half years, we've been saying two thousand plus the number of years. Will this continue once we get past the first decade of the 21st century? Or will we go back to the old method? Is 2010, two thousand ten or twenty-ten?
David Crystal, author of the Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, has predicted that the change of pronunciation to "twenty plus the year" will not occur until 2011, as twenty eleven. He explains that the way people pronounce years depends on rhythm rather than logic.
Crystal claims that the rhythm or "flow" of two thousand and ten, beats that of twenty-ten, but the flow of twenty-eleven beats two thousand and eleven. Ian Brookes, editor-in-chief of Chambers Dictionary, suggests the change will not occur until 2013.
I plan to call it twenty-ten. What about you?

Printable version

<< back to Articles on Featured Topics
<< back to All Articles