Submitted by rib  •  December 11, 2009

Twenty-ten vs Two thousand-ten

If you ever listen to Charles Osgood, you know he has been saying “twenty-oh-one” rather than “two thousand-one” for, well, about nine years. The usage is parallel to calling the year 1901 “nineteen-oh-one” rather than “nineteen hundred-one”, yet it never caught on with the general public. Now, however, the stakes are higher with “twenty-ten” saving a whole syllable vs. “two-thousand-ten”, aside from being easier to pronounce. Yet I still mostly hear the latter. Am I going to have to grate my teeth every time I hear “two-thousand-x” for the rest of my life, or is there hope that the English-speaking world will come to it’s senses?

Comments Sort by:   Oldest first  •  Latest first  •  Rating

Thought we had this discussion here; perhaps it was elsewhere.

At any rate: My theory is, people use whichever form has the fewer number of syllables. Thus, "twenty-ten" (3 syllables) over "two-thousand ten" (4).

Two-thousand one and twenty-oh-one each have 4; two-thousand'n'one is really close to four (no one says "two thousand AND one").

0 vote Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

I am amazed at how many posts on this site center around a simple lack of understanding that there can be many ways to say the same thing and that they are all perfectly ok.

6 votes Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

I like your anti-prescriptivism, Porsche. Most refreshing.

But rib raises an interesting issue, if not quite a burning one. What shall we call these modern times? Two precedents present themselves. The first is S. Kubrick's "2001, a Space Odyssey." Spoken aloud, it's generally "two-thousand-one." No "and" there.

The second is "In the Year 2525" by Zager and Evans. You remember them, of course: "In the year twenty-five-twenty-five. if man is still alive, if woman can survive, they may find..." It's dismal, but consistent: "In the year forty-five-forty-five, you ain't gonna need your teeth, won't need your eyes...." Or, I hope, my ears.

We refer to time in various ways. The nineteenth century we also call the eighteen hundreds, but do we call the twentieth century the nineteen-hundreds? We do not. It's the Twentieth Century, period. Fox got that one right, so did the Doors.

So how will we pronounce 2010? We will know in a few weeks. My guess is "twenty-ten." It's short and snappy. Who has time to say "thousand" in these fast-paced times? Me? No. A thousand times no.

And by the way, rib, you won't need your teeth, if you can hold out that long. Grind away.

4 votes Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

Are we going to run out of syllables if we don't start saving them?

2 votes Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

2010 will be the year when we can once again start using the abbreviated paradigm we've used for hundreds of years (eighteen whatever, nineteen whatever). 2001-2009 are unwieldy when saying "twenty whatever", but for 2010-2099 it will be easy to say this.

4 votes Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

We say that the first millennium ended in the year one-thousand, but we say that the Norman Conquest occured in ten sixty-six. It's time to get back on historical track. It should be twenty-ten.

5 votes Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

Example: Rush 2112, now how silly would it sound as two-thousand one-hundred and twelve?! It is twenty-one twelve, right? Same for 2010, twenty-ten - not two-thousand ten. I cringe when I hear someone say two-thousand ten.

1 vote Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

Yes, "twenty-ten" is the way to go, short, simple, easy, consistent. Just as we say "nineteen-ten" for 1910, or "nineteen-forty-one" for 1941, we will now say "twenty-whatever" for all the years of the 21st century.

2 votes Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

My theory is that people will use whichever sounds smoothest to their ears. So much English usage is custom, dialectical or personal preference.

“Two thousand and nine” sounds smooth while “twenty-oh-nine is awkward. Likewise, “two thousand and ten” versus “twenty-ten” will be a matter of personal choice. I think that the chosen version will be whatever sounds better to the majority. English is logical, it is arbitrary and highly changeable!

By the way, did anyone ever create a popular name for the first decade of the 21st century?

1 vote Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

From about 1998 on, I looked for a name for the decade of 2000-2009. But I didn't find anything. I surmised it could be called the 2000's, the 00's, the ohs, the double-ohs, the oughts, the zeros, or something else similar. But it seemed like all the emphasis was on the turn of the millennium (and the century), and thus the decade, the 10-year period, was just kind of forgotten in all the millennial hoopla. I kind of favor the "oughts" myself. Anyone else hear or see anything on this?

0 vote Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

My favorite has always been "the naughts", first heard just before the new millenium.

0 vote Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

Your Comment