The Year 2001
9th-grade English class
Written October 5, 1961
been wondering for the past year about the way people will be
pronouncing dates in the twenty-first century, such as March 24, 2008.
continue our present system which tells us to pronounce 1961 as nineteen-sixty-one,
2008 would be twenty-oh-eight. However, it appears more
natural to call it two thousand eight.
conducted a rather unscientific poll last week (only a few freshman
boys were questioned) and found that among these people the
"two-thousand" method will probably be used up to a certain
point. This point may be 2010, or it may be delayed until 2100
(in which case none of us will still be around to see it); but when
we reach this point we will go back to our present method (twenty-ten,
Do you agree?
from the twenty-first century (written August 3, 2005)... I
now predict that the switchover will happen on January 1, 2010.
that, most people will say two
thousand nine, because
seems awkward and twenty
that, most people will find it easier to say twenty
old habits being hard to break, there will be many who will continue
to use the two
thousand ten form
for years, even decades.
the way, why was I wondering about this topic as early as 1960?
Because until then, all the years that I could remember had been
nineteen-fifty-something. Even checkbooks, in the blank for the
date, helpfully gave you the first three digits as in
"195_." But now the year was nineteen-sixty-something,
and new checkbooks merely offered "19__." The whole
world was different. How much greater would be the change when
even the "19" went away?
update (written July 15, 2007)... Here's a reaction to the
last update from Dan Golus from Irvine, California, who e-mails me in part:
Personally, I hate
the "two thousand" method and have been saying
"twenty-xxx" (also known as the "two-part" or
"hundreds" method) since early 2001. The sooner we go
back to the two-part method, the better.
I find it
interesting that those who say it may be hard to break the "two
thousand" habit don't realize how immediately and overwhelmingly
people broke the two-part method which was used for centuries.
It was trashed overnight on Jan 1, 2000. So, it should be
fairly easy to switch back to the proper, two-part way. At
least, I hope.
What is vital to
the switch-back is the advertising business both TV and radio
which frequently mention a year in a commercial. "No
payments until 2010!" "Come see the new 2008
Dodge..." If ad agencies don't switch quickly, it
will take longer. After all, the more often people hear
"twenty-xxx", the more familiar it will become. And
I've noticed the Olympic games of 2010, 2012, and 2016 are ALL
officially called in the two-part method. A big step.
I find it odd so
many will say 2007 as "two thousand (and) seven", but also
say "oh-seven". Why not just insert
the"twenty" in front of the "oh-seven", and
complete the logical? Don't they see this?
By the way, I call
our current decade "the hundreds" and our century "the
and I appear to agree that people will switch back to the two-part
method for the years 2010 and later. For most (but not Dan),
the year 2009 will be two
thousand nine. The
year 2010 will be twenty
But he hopes that once the two-part method is restored, people will
begin using it retroactively for dates in the current decade,
It is expected
that in the decades to come, people then will refer back to our
current year as "twenty-oh-seven."
not so sure. I recall old-timers in my youth who referred to
'07 (meaning 1907) as "aught seven," the archaic form that
they had actually used in nineteen-aught-seven. If the natural
way to say 2007 seemed at first to be two thousand seven, that
will continue to be the natural way. Old habits may never die,
and this generation may call this year two thousand seven for
the rest of our lives.
revisted this subject in the year Ten. Click here.