Year names and number names

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Following up on Mark Liberman's "2010" posting (and on an earlier "rigid complementarity" posting of mine), I've written a series of postings on my blog about year names, number names, and related matters:

on "bald assertion" here;
on decimal 'decimal point' here;
and on a cluster of issues surrounding these topics here.

Just a note here about the alternation between "conjoined" readings for number names (including year names), like "two thousand and ten", and "juxtaposed" readings, like "two thousand ten". I noted in my "rigid complementarity" posting (citing ADS-L discussions from 2007) that it was, and possibly still is, the practice of (some) American schoolteachers to condemn the conjoined readings as straightforward errors. (This is a matter of schooteacher lore, not enshrined in usage handbooks.) The result is some hostility by American speakers towards the conjoined readings, though they are very frequent (after all, plenty of Americans were not exposed to the schoolroom prohibition, or disregarded it).

Things are different in the UK and Australia. Speakers there prefer the conjoined readings, and over the years I've collected opinions from some of them that the juxtaposed readings are a bit off, and American-sounding. You can collect juxtaposed readings from UK and Oz English speakers, but conjoined readings pretty clearly predominate, and none of these speakers sees anything wrong with them (in fact, they are baffled by the American proscription).

Now I'm beginning to collect some actual hostility to the juxtaposed variants. A comment from Jan Freeman on my "decimal" posting:

When I wrote about this in January 2006 (The Word — don’t know if it’s linkable) I quoted this lovely comment, from an Australian sports fan posting on a broadcaster’s message board about the language of a famous soccer commentator:

“I do not believe my ears. I think I heard Les Murray just say ‘two thousand five’ and ‘two thousand six’ when he obviously meant to say ‘two thousand and five’ and ‘two thousand and six.’ This is Australia, not the USA. If this poisonous infiltration of American-speak is going to infect the only decent TV station left to us, then I just give up.”

And from commenter James D on my most recent posting in the series:

Okay, I’m a Brit. I’ll bite. “Two thousand ten” just sounds wrong, as do all numbers over 100 without the “and”. You might be able to slip it past people as a sloppy colloquialism, but it’s not the sort of thing you would say in any semi-formal situation. I imagine the British equivalent of your American schoolteacher would have a fit about this.

It's possible that things are polarizing in the UK and Australia, while in the US the variation remains stable. This is in principle a researchable hypothesis, but studying it would take a considerable corpus of spoken English (the variants appear primarily in speech) over some period of time.

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