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I just wonder how can we name the decades of the 2nd millennium. i.e. we say “during 80′s”. How we say “during (20)10′s”? or “2020′s” etc.?

  • March 3, 2004
  • Posted by goossun
  • Filed in Usage

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Same as we did last time--the teens, the twenties, etc. People will just have to figure it out from context.

Of course, when I say "the turn of the century," I mean 1900--that phrase is too deeply ingrained in my brain to mean anything else.

A common question--to which there has been no widely accepted answer--is what to call the first decade of this century. Apparently, one hundred years ago, some people called the first decade of the 1900s the "naughties," and I've seen a few examples of the same for this decade, but it's hardly widespread, and for that matter, nobody uses it in reference to 190x anymore, either.

Adam Rice March 3, 2004, 8:52am

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What are those "few examples" Adam?

goossun March 4, 2004, 11:00am

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Adam Rice March 4, 2004, 2:20pm

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Yes. Adam is correct. With your example of the '80s, up until probably the year 2082 the eighties will refer to the period from 1980-1989 inclusive. Although, I try to forget the eighties already. Can't imagine ANYBODY wanting to talk about them in another 80 years time...

A related question here. Do we write '80s or 80's like goossun does? I'm pretty sure we need the apostrophe before 80 to signify we're dropping the 19 off the front but do we need the apostrophe before the S?

JBL April 6, 2004, 11:26pm

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'80s is correct. You don't write 80's because the 's is not an acceptable way to form the plural. You're abbreviating "eighties," not "eighty's."

speedwell2 April 7, 2004, 5:30am

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New York Times seems to consistently use "80's", apostrophe after the number, before the 's'.

Also, there is another thread for this discussion.

Dyske April 7, 2004, 5:39am

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Some Australians are referring to the current decade (2000 - 2009) as the Noughties. Pronounced 'naughties'.

I agree with JBL that the 1980s can't be forgotten quickly enough. There was far too much in the way of pastel colours and big hair.

M Stevenson April 10, 2004, 9:40pm

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I agree -- the more important thing to note here is the improper use of the apostrophe (yet again). You don't mean "80 is," and nothing belongs to 80. You are talking about a number of years. Years --> plural. Therefore, 80s is the proper way to say it, regardless of what the Times uses.

The same thing goes for CD's. That's wrong. Compact Discs <-- plural --> CDs.

The poor apostrophe....people use it so often and without regard to its proper usage, it might as well be deemed the punctuation whore.

With each "Drive thru" and "OutKast" we have, the further English falls into the toilet. Why do people think it's cool to misspell things? Do they know it makes them look like an idiot?

(I don't mean that to you, goossun.)

cuz what would u think if i type'd everything like this?

drenglish May 15, 2004, 10:13pm

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"Why do people think it's cool to misspell things?"

Huh. Dunno; I'm a very uncool female geek, a vegetarian in Texas, an Engineering groupie, a spelling bee champion, and an ex-proofreader.

"[C]uz what would u think if i type'd everything like this?"

I'd think you cared about as much about communicating clearly as does approximately 99.9+ percent of the English-speaking world.

"(I don't mean that to you, goossun.)"

Goossun's written English is proof positive that he cares about speaking English properly. I wish most of the native English speakers I work with wrote even half as well as he does.

Anonymous May 17, 2004, 4:11am

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This is all very well, but why has no pedant yet pointed out that this is the third millennium, not the second?

Anonymous June 10, 2004, 8:27am

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Becuase we were too busy answering the question to engage in vicious and unnecessary nitpicking.

speedwell2 June 10, 2004, 10:59am

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Dammit :) You can always tell it's me typing when I switch the vowels in "because."

speedwell2 June 10, 2004, 11:00am

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According to the New York Times's book on Style & Usage, it is perfectly correct for the apostrophe's position there. The Oxford English Dictionary says the same, and they're the authority on all things English-language.
Although overall, I think the use of 1980s is preferable, just in occasions of clarity, 1980's can be used.
Out and over.

tommy August 16, 2004, 3:52pm

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Oh, fer cryin' out loud...

Native English speakers are not born with the ever-glorious Chicago or New York style books in their tiny grip.

Those books are good for one thing and one thing only, and that is to chronicle what a given group of "experts" in two cities considered correct grammar and usage policy for the two newspapers of those cities at the time the books were written.

Such books are obsolete the moment they are published; however, they serve as useful guides to those who want some sort of objective reference.

My impression of why this site is in existence, however, is for non-fluent speakers to imitate and learn the style of fluent, indeed extremely fluent, speakers. I did not think the intent was to prescribe a certain baseline way of speaking (such a thing does not exist) or to endorse one industry-accepted book or other.

OK. Rant over :) Dyske, you may chastise me for my presumption if you wish...

speedwell2 August 16, 2004, 5:53pm

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But if it's the Oxford University Press, it's the defining source on the English Language. But nevermind.

robbo August 17, 2004, 2:21pm

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Yes     No