All around the English-speaking world, pundits are wondering in print about how to pronounce the year 2010. Is it "twenty ten", or "two thousand ten", or "two thousand and ten", or what?
The conclusion is usually "twenty ten", for one reason or another: "So, how will you pronounce the year 2010?", "A new decade: what's in a name?", "Twenty ten? Or two thousand ten?", "2010: Twenty-Ten, Not Two-Thousand-And_Ten", "Let's call the new year Twenty-Ten", "Twenty-ten, when I let it all go", "What is the proper way to reference 2010?", "Two thousand nine, but twenty ten", "2010: 'Twenty ten' vs. 'two thousand ten'?", "Say 'Twenty-Ten'". Among the reasons given (fewer syllables, analogy to ten sixty six, etc.) my favorite is this one:
[Twenty ten] rolls off the tongue, and it sounds pretty darned cool, you ask me. Very nonchalant, very modern, very devil-may-care.
“Hey man, what year is it?” says the square.
“It’s twenty-ten, mister, twenty-ten,” says the hipster.
OK. That’s settled.
My least favorite argument, of course, is that the "National Association of Good Grammar" (NAGG, get it?) says so:
Coming off of "two thousand nine," you'll probably say "two thousand ten." In fact, 4 out of 5 YouTube videos randomly reviewed by The Chronicle have people pronouncing it that way.
But you would be wrong, so wrong, according to the National Association of Good Grammar.
"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.," proclaims the association's news release.
I could find only one article that goes the other way: "It's Not 'Twenty-Ten,' or 'Two Thousand and Ten' — It's 'Two Thousand Ten'":
Something on TV is driving me crazy. No, it's not that wind-up doll in the Pristiq drug commercial or the ghostly blonde in the Palm Pre commercial or that annoying granny ("I didn't pay a penny out of pocket for my power chair") in the Scooter Store commercial, although all three ring the gong on my annoyance meter.
No, it's the designation of the new year, 2010. I pronounce 2009 "Two Thousand Nine" so it follows that 2010 is "Two Thousand Ten." How difficult is that?
A fair number of articles straddle the pronunciation fence: "How do you say 2010?", "Dilemma as we leave noughties: How do we say 2010?", "Just how should we say 2010?", "What do we call this coming year?", "What's in a number?".
I read 15 or so of the hundreds of articles on this topic from around the world. The most authoritative discussion is probably David Crystal's — but there was one that I really enjoyed, by Jim Mustian in the Odessa [TX] American, who asked the opinion of a sample of local worthies:
“I’m going to say ‘two-thousand-ten’ but know that it’s cooler to say ‘twenty-ten’ and try to do that,” said Jeff Tyner of Midland.
Robert Martinez of Lubbock has made up his mind to say “two-thousand-ten.”
“I think it’s more natural,” he said on the last day of 2009. “I couldn’t think of saying it another way.” […]
Alfred Miears of Big Spring says he’ll be sticking with two-thousand-ten because “it has a good ring to it.”
Deputy Andrew Sanchez of the Crockett County Sheriff’s Office agreed.
“You don’t say twenty-oh-nine,” he said by phone Wednesday. “Two-thousand-ten is just natural. But I’ve heard twenty-ten on the radio.”
Natalie Zuniga of Kermit said she’ll say “two-thousand-ten” because “that’s the way you’re supposed to say it.”
Not everyone agreed. A man working security Thursday morning at the Ector County Courthouse insisted the year should be pronounced ‘twenty-ten,’ attributing his reasoning to the Bible.
“It’s been 2,000 years since Christ died, that’s why,” he said during a smoke break. Though he was firm in his convictions, he refused to give his name. “I can’t comment on things like that,” he said.
But as happens too often, Mr. Mustian is not honored in Odessa — the first comment on his piece, by the ominously named "burnbabyburn1", is:
Wow-and the OA thought this was news? Are you going to reprint this in the Journal of (Arcane) Science, or what? What a bunch of morons!
Me, I'm curious about how this works in other languages. I reckon I can get a publication in the Journal of (Arcane) Science out of it.