When Do We Start Calling Years ‘Twenty-Somethings’? Dan Gillmor, guest-blogging at Boing Boing, reopens the endless conversation about what to call the decade we’re currently in and how to refer to the years themselves. This is a conversation that has been had since well into the 1990s. What’s funny is, as I’ve mentioned on the air, what I hear people saying is “twenty-nine,” meaning 2009, but they never write it that way nor seem to notice that’s what they’re saying.
I am for making things as simple as possible. Which ever is simpler, should be the way to go. Saying “two thousand nine” is the same complexity as “twenty oh nine”. “Twenty nine” is not correct because that is too easily confused with the year “29â€³. I prefer “two thousand nine” because, while possessing the same number of syllables, it seems more grammatically correct than “twenty oh nine”.
“Twenty-nine” to mean “2009” seems not to cause any confusion. For one thing, there are few reasons to think that anyone means “2029” or “1929,” especially since “twenty-nine” used in this way is always wrapped in the context of a larger conversation in which the time frame is readily apparent. Listen for it. You’ll see that it only seems like it might be confusing when you try to talk about the usage. If you don’t talk about it, it does its job unconfusingly.
That’s odd. I’ve never heard the “twenty-nine” format in speech. Have you also heard it in reference to other centuries (e.g. “It burned down during the Nineteen-Six earthquake”)?
One thing I don’t like hearing is “two thousand and nine” when the correct way to refer to it would be “two thousand nine” as used in this thread. But that’s just a peeve of mine that probably belongs in a different thread.
As far as what to call this decade, “the oughts” didn’t really stick. Maybe we’ll just always refer to it as “just after the turn of the century (or millennium)” as we often hear it for the beginning of the 20th century.
Sorry if any of this has been covered before – first post.
Just continue the “ought” thought; call it ought ten. That should work through ought ninty-nine.
A new millenium only comes once in a thousand years. Let’s not miss this opportunity.
Perhaps we ought, as several have suggested. But I believe the spelling you ought to use is aught.
I know that in the 1900s, my college’s reunion classes used “Class of aughty-two,” etc. To me, dates with aught evoke the turn of a different century.
Here is a science fiction story set in the near future. It calls a decade the “naughts”. However, the reason this story is online is that an earlier draft of it was printed. The printed phrase was, “nau-[line break]oughts-teens”.
When I saw it in print, I took it as an independent usage of my “ought” prefixing of all years/decades of this century. After seeing the corrected reprint, I am not so sure.
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