2.08.2006

The Future Is Now Later

It's something I've been wondering about for a while...about six years, actually.

Please say the following years out loud (that's it, shout it right out so they hear you in the next cubicle):

1999

2000

2006

2010

2013

2097

2130

I'm curious, what did you say? "Nineteen ninety-nine." "Two thousand." "Two-thousand six." Then what? Did you say "two thousand ten"? Or did you finally jump into the future and say "twenty ten"?

Wouldn't you feel much more futuristic if you were living in the year twenty oh-six, instead of boring old two thousand six? How did this happen? I suppose it's just a carryover from the millennium, when we called it "year two thousand" because we certainly weren't going to call it the "year twenty hundred". We just added on the following year, because what can come after two thousand but two thousand one? Then we just kept adding, and we've made it all the way to two thousand six so far. But we're going to have to make the switch sometime. Did anyone say "two thousand ninety-seven" or "two thousand one hundred thirty" for the last two? We can't have the flying cars or personal jetpacks, but we can at least live in a real century -- the one promised to us so long by scientists and writers of speculative fiction -- instead of in a number.

I predict that the transition will be inevitable by the year twenty ten, and I don't want to hear any "two thousand ten" nonsense out of anybody before then. Let's all just pick that date and start talking about future years in the appropriate terms, okay? Bonus points if you want to change over now and start talking about twenty oh-six and your plans for twenty oh-seven.

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8 Comments:

Anonymous Cat:

I'm enormously relieved that I'm not the only one who's thought* about this. I was always going for "twenty eleven," which is kind of the first year where "two thousand such-and-such" starts to get unwieldy. I begin to despair, though, when I hear people talking about what they'll be doing in "two thousand fifty." I think there needs to be an active campaign for your version. (:

23:17  
Blogger Adam Cadre:

As noted here, I've been auditing a class on the apocalypse in American pop culture, and the professor says "twenty oh six" several times per lecture. She's the only person I know who says this, and it still sounds wrong to me.

I remember reading many articles about this in the late 90s - "how will we pronounce these years?" One of them predicted in all seriousness that we would call this year "two oh oh six."

00:47  
Blogger Rachel:

I've thought about this too and I think the "twenty" prefix will likely only start at "twenty twelve". Everyone will still call it "two thousand ten" because of the movie (in fact, calling it "twenty-ten" will make them feel stupid, because of the movie). And "twenty-eleven" feels awkward (and too similar to the 9-11 abbreviation). Cadence itself dictates that the "twenties" won't truly catch on 'en masse' until "twenty-twelve" and once there, it'll get easier for everyone to spit out an awkward "twenty thirteen" and so on. Let's place bets!

10:28  
Anonymous Lynn:

I said 'two thousand' right up til 'two thousand ninety-seven' but on the last one I did say 'twenty-one thirty'. I will continue to say 'two thousand' no matter what everyone else does. Sorry but I hate the tendency to shorten or abbrieviate everything.

I also hate "nine-eleven" but I've started saying it too. It's sort of awkward to keep saying "September eleventh" since there's one every year. You can usually tell by the context when you mean that September 11th but not always and a lot of people aren't very good at picking up on context.

08:36  
Blogger lemuel:

I allways found the saying "twenty-whatever" to be pretentious sci-fi garbage. Sorry. I am and forever will be a "two thousand" man

20:22  
Anonymous John Hardy:

And I say two thousand and six. Dropping the "and" sounds too American for Australian ears.

The transition will probably happen in similar way to the twentieth century which started out as nineteen hundred and one etc. and made the switch sometime around nineteen ten and then reworked the "noughties" retrospectively like nineteeth oh six etc.

23:37  
Blogger bluewyvern:

Really? They used to say "nineteen-hundred and two", "nineteen-hundred and three"? How about that.

23:43  
Anonymous Patrick:

I'm also glad that someone else besides myself has thought about this. I definitely believe that we will revert to the "1990s" style of pronunciation by 2010 or at least 2020. And as for Lemuel's comments -- How can the use of "twenty ten" be used by anything OTHER than science fiction at this point? Since 2010 is in the future, only stories about FICTION can interpret the pronunciation of that year. Also, I've seen several Sci-Fi movies that used the "two thousand and" method for post-2010 dates. As for the real world -- many,many newscasters use the "twenty" method for post-2009 dates, including BBC and CNN commentators. Reverting to that shorter method is indeed inevitable.

04:30  

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