I’ve let it slide so far because everyone was getting used to the new century. I’ve let this criminally inefficient manner of speaking go on for seven years without complaining. But now I’m letting the world know, a full two years in advance, that the year 2010 must be pronounced twenty-ten and not two-thousand-and-ten.
It started in the year 2000. It sounds jarring to say ‘twenty-hundred’ and so by unspoken public consensus we all started saying ‘two-thousand’. People’s decisions over word use are unconsciously swayed by what sounds aurally pleasing: the victory of Blu-ray over HD-DVD has, in some circles, been attributed to the fact that the term ‘Blu-ray’ subconsciously sounds nicer (I always thought that HD-DVD had a nice alliteration to it but what do I know?) Anyway the news reporters started saying ‘two-thousand’, the politicians said it, the cast of Eastenders said it, we all said it. Then 2001 came along. People had spent a year saying ‘two-thousand’ and thus it was easy just to add ‘and-one’. And so on for each subsequent year. Last year it reached a peak. Last year’s ‘two-thousand-and-seven’ was a whopping six syllables long.
When 2010 arrives we have a chance to break this inefficient cycle. It is not linguistically optimal to say ‘two-thousand-and-ten’ when ‘twenty-ten’ will suffice. From a pure numerical perspective it’s simply five syllables versus three syllables. We can all save time, breath, and precious syllables. Technically it’s easier to say ‘twenty-oh-eight’ than ‘two-thousand-and-eight’ but I’m letting everyone off the hook for the next couple of years.
None of us know what the future holds and what the mass media call 2010 will probably stick in the public’s consciousness. But for the next two years I will be promoting the ‘twenty-ten’ pronunciation. I don’t want to watch the ‘two-thousand-and-twelve’ Olympiad and I certainly don’t want to be party to the ‘two-twelve’ anything; I want to watch the ‘twenty-twelve’ Olympics.
I encourage you to join me and make the future a little bit more like the future we saw in “Back to the Future”. Solidarity, brothers.