Sunday, January 3, 2010

Twenty-Ten or Two-Thousand-Ten?

We’ve launched into a new decade, but what should we call it -- Twenty-Ten or Two-Thousand-Ten?

If this is the major controversy of the year, I’d be delighted. After all, don't you think it's more pleasant to ponder pronunciation than the fact that people are sewing bomb materials into their underwear to try to kill us?

Since we can't do much about that, you might be glad to know the National Association of Good Grammar (NAGG) has issued a pronouncement about 2010:

“NAGG has decided to step in and decree that (2010) should officially be pronounced 'twenty ten,' and all subsequent years should be pronounced as 'twenty eleven,' 'twenty twelve,' etc.”
NAGG President Tom Torriglia says he's never understood why anyone said “two-thousand-one” in the first place. As he points out, no one ever said they were going to party like it’s “nineteen-hundred and ninety-nine.”

Says Torriglia: “Twenty follows nineteen. 'Two thousand' does not follow 'nineteen.' It's logical.”

On the other hand, I don't know how much credence we should give a former technical manual writer who now spends his time playing his accordion for pay and claims to be writing a book entitled “The Grammar Police Never Sleep.” As far as I can tell, the NAGG group is Torriglia, period. The “National Association” doesn't even have a web site, but Torriglia told the San Francisco Chronicle he formed it in 1986 “when he found himself calling publications about their grammatically incorrect ads.”

Now I also cringe at bad grammar, but it never occurred to me to form an association about it. It is, however, kind of fun to ponder the national associations you could form to deal with things that irritate you. For me, it could be a group like the “National Association of Wives Who Think Their Husbands Take the Wrong Driving Routes” (click here to see why) or the “National Association of Mothers Who Embarrass Their Children” (click here to see how).

But back to 2010. An Australian Broadcasting Company poll a few years ago found that 60 percent of people favored “two-thousand-ten” over “twenty-ten” and the author of the Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language recently predicted 2010 will be "two thousand ten," but 2011 will be “twenty eleven.” David Crystal says he thinks the rhythm of “two thousand and ten” sounds better than “twenty ten.” Others agree, contending “twenty-ten” sounds more like a police radio code than the beginning of a decade.

However, the “twenty-ten” forces have taken their fight to the Internet. The web site wants everyone to pronounce it “twenty ten" and there are at least two Facebook pages and three groups around the theme of “It's Twenty-ten, not Two-thousand and ten” that have attracted hundreds of members. Meanwhile, “Saying Twenty-ten instead of Two-thousand-Ten Because It Sounds Cooler” has almost 30,000 members.

I like to think I'm cool so it's Twenty-Ten for me. I think it works: Saying someone is twenty-twenty-ten sounds a whole lot cooler than saying they're 50, don't you think?

How are you going to say 2010?


Rosemary Harris said...

I'm definitely in the twenty ten camp, but not for the reasons old Tom gives. I think we can blame/thank Arthur C. Clarke for two thousand and one (as in A Space Odyssey.) Besides twenty one would have sounded stupid, no? ;-)

chris remick said...

I'm for twenty ten simply because I'd get tongue tied trying to recall the year! Now if we could just do something about the day - as soon as I memorize the date it changes!

Jeanne said...

Well, my comment is that I have heard people dicussing wether 2010 is really the begininning of the new decade or is it 2011? Because if you count by ten's it's 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10
11,12,13,14,15, etc. Interesting, I thought.

PatRemick said...

Numbers are definitely not my friend, and I find this whole thing confusing. Just for fun -- watch which number they are using on the commercials!

Anonymous said...

I use twenty ten, but up until now I used two thousand one, two, three, etc. Up until this year saying twenty one, twenty two etc., didn't sound right.