It’s Twenty Ten

Not two thousand ten.

And certainly NOT two thousand AND ten.

We all have our pet peeves. Nails on chalkboard kind of stuff — like Glenn Beck;

or how Walmart never sells the right replacement mophead for my O-Cedar mop, even though I bought it there;

or when Facebook-ees post what they had for lunch;

or calling customer service – any customer service.

The list goes on and on.

My biggest pet peeve has lasted a decade. It goes something like this: someone – anyone – says, “Two thousand AND [fill in the year here].”

Whoever you are – and you know who you are – you need to stop it right now. During that whole exasperating decade nearly everyone stuffed an “and” in there. I cringed my way through the aughts.

In 1999, as we approached the 21st century I looked to the previous turn of the century for guidance. Back then they said nineteen hundred for 1900, then they said nineteen-o-one for 1901, nineteen-o-two for 1902, and so on. Therefore I assumed we would say two thousand for 2000 and twenty-o-one for 2001, etc. I figured the folks at CNN – after consulting the experts – would lead the way on that front. Weren’t they, after all, the ones who taught us how to say Qatar? BTW, it’s “cutter” – not “kuh-TAR” or “KUH-tar”. But nobody pronounces that right either. So there you go.

Instead the aughts turned into a pronunciation free-for-all. How did they ever come up with the cursed (that’s CUR-sed to you) two thousand AND one for 2001, etc, anyway?

Turns out this was all Stanley Kubrick’s fault.

According to The Stanley Kubrick archives, in the press release for his film 2001: A Space Odyssey, film director Stanley Kubrick included specific instructions for journalists to refer to the movie as “two thousand and one” instead of the commonplace pronunciation of “twenty-oh-one”. Kubrick said he did this in the hope that if the film became popular, it would influence the pronunciation of that year.

That’s right. We handed over the most significant dictum of the 21st century to a filmmaker. Not just any filmmaker, but a filmmaker who said, “I never learned anything at all in school and didn’t read a book for pleasure until I was 19 years old.” What does it say about our society when the great historical grammarians of our time conceded to the whim of a man who invented HAL, a creepy jihadist computer?

Of course Kubrick died in 1999, so he didn’t have to live through the havoc he hath wrought. Yet HAL has continued terrorizing the astronauts and we got stuck with “two thousand and one”.

I always knew in my gut it should be 20-0-1, etc. The problem was, saying “twenty-o-one” elicited only blank stares. It never caught on. It wasn’t so much that the experts didn’t agree. They just didn’t care. 

They had all forgotten what the true prophets – 1960s  pop duo Zager and Evans – had taught us “In the Year 2525”. A song title. It was so simple. We didn’t sing, “In the year two thousand five hundred AND twenty-five.” That would have been idiotic.

Maybe we were all just smarter back then.

By 2002, I had acquiesced and said two thousand two. But I never said two thousand AND two, like the rest of the rubes.

At last it’s 2010. I’ve been waiting nine long years for this. I figured by now everybody would know how to pronounce the year 2010. TWENTY TEN. Two simple words. Say them. There. See? Not twenty AND ten. Not even two thousand AND ten.

Instead I get this load of crap on the internets:

Among experts and the general public, there is a debate as to how specific years of the 21st century should be pronounced in English. The year 2010 is pronounced either “twenty ten” or “two thousand (and) ten”.

ARGH-GH-GH! I live in hell!

Okay. If the so-called “experts” can’t agree on this one, I will decide. I will be the pronunciation police. Trust me – and Zager and Evans – on this. The two thousands are behind you.

Henceforth it shall be 2010 – that’s twenty ten to you – and beyond.

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4 Comments on “It’s Twenty Ten”

  1. Cele Says:

    Not that you read my blog, but my thought on it is twenty ten, no and. To the phrase, twenty and ten I ask, “Thirty what?”

  2. Stephanie Says:

    Oh my goodness, how annoying! I was looking up something on pronunciation for my English learners and I stumbled upon this awful post! It’s just so wrong! And you speak as if you know something about pronunciation!

    First of all, “two-thousand-x” IS the correct way to say it, if you care about correctness. It is a number, counted up from (year) zero, and it is not the “twenty-tenth” year because there is no such number. So calling the year “twenty ten” has no base in correctness when it comes to numbers.

    The year 1904 was called “nineteen-oh-four” simply because it sounded better than “nineteen hundred four.” This has to do with cadence, euphony, and simplicity, not some rule which later years must follow. We will call the year “twenty-five twenty-five” only because it is faster and sounds better than “two-thousand five-hundred twenty-five.” And in the meantime, saying “two-thousand eleven” sounds better than “twenty eleven” and only costs me one extra syllable to say, so I think I’ll continue to say it, even though it bothers you so much. Part of the joy of language is the sound of it and that has a far larger impact on the way we learn and use language than you could ever recognize…

  3. Peggy Tibbetts Says:

    It’s called satire, look into it Stephanie

  4. joe brown Says:

    I can’t believe I actually read this stupid post. Satire or not, it’s fucking stupid.

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