Mighty Red Pen

September 17, 2009

How will you pronounce 2010?

Filed under: Word wars — mighty red pen @ 6:53 pm

Because it’s never too early to start thinking about this sort of thing, here’s a question for all of you: When 2010 finally rolls around (I know! I’m still getting over Y2K!), will you be saying twenty ten or two thousand ten?

Okay, here’s the deal in MRP’s mind: Last century, we were all very comfy saying nineteen (as opposed to the cumbersome one thousand nine hundred) and so it seemed logical to assume we might all say twenty (after all there is plenty of precedent for this). However, then we got to 2001, and everyone says two thousand one. And it seems that everyone’s gotten pretty comfy with two thousand.

I heard twenty ten used in a car ad the other day for the first time. So do we need to switch gears from two thousand ten to twenty ten?



  1. When we got to 2001 it made more sense to say “two thousand one” because simply saying “twenty one” would imply the number “21” and, phonetically, “two thousand one” certainly flowed off of the tongue more smoothly than “twenty oh one”. Now that we will be moving forward to 2010, I think it is more verbally economic to switch back to the “twenty ten” pattern.

    Comment by Laura Payne — September 18, 2009 @ 8:55 am | Reply

  2. I’m not sure which I’ll use — they both sound ok to me.

    What I don’t like, and I’ve heard a number of times, is it shortened to “oh-ten.” I suppose it’s an easy mistake to make — this year is “oh-nine,” so next year is “oh-ten.” But no; don’t do it.

    Comment by Kirsten — September 18, 2009 @ 9:21 am | Reply

  3. I agree with Kirsten. Don’t say “oh-ten”. Saying “oh-ten” is inaccurate because technically it would mean 20010.

    Comment by Laura Payne — September 18, 2009 @ 9:48 am | Reply

  4. I don’t know that “oh ten” is technically inaccurate for 2010 as it would be for, say 2110; there is a zero there, so it’s like a shortening of “two oh ten”. And instead of “two thousand ten” shouldn’t that be “two thousand-and-ten”?

    Personally, I’ll probably go with “twenty ten” for much the reasons that Laura Payne mentioned above.

    Comment by tk. — September 18, 2009 @ 11:13 am | Reply

  5. I guess the reason that I view “oh-ten” as inaccurate is that it is semantically misleading. When it comes to talking about dates, if someone was to say “oh-six” the “twenty” is implied, just as saying, “I was born in sixty-eight” implies the “nineteen”. So if you extend this logic, saying “oh-ten” would semantically still imply “twenty” which would result in 20010.

    Does this make sense to anyone else, or is it just me overanalyzing linguistically like I tend to do.

    Comment by Laura Payne — September 18, 2009 @ 1:29 pm | Reply

  6. I’ll definitely prounouce it “twenty ten.” I’ve never liked saying “two thousand,” but it did seem better than “twenty-oh-one.”

    Comment by Lori — September 18, 2009 @ 2:48 pm | Reply

  7. This wouldn’t be a problem if people paid more attention during history class. I’ve never heard anyone say that the Battle of Hastings took place in a thousand sixty-six or the first crusade in a thousand ninety-six. Edward the Confessor was born in a thousand three but didn’t become king until ten forty-two. &c.

    Comment by Danny — September 18, 2009 @ 2:53 pm | Reply

  8. to answer tk, no, technically, it should not be two thousand and ten, when saying a number you are not supposed to say the word and until you reach the decimal point. i will be saying twenty ten.

    Comment by mlmnttlkr — September 19, 2009 @ 12:47 am | Reply

  9. I’ll be saying “two thousand AND ten”. I’m a true Brit.

    Comment by MikeyC — September 22, 2009 @ 6:20 am | Reply

  10. We will certainly change from “Two thousand” to “Twenty” either during 2010 or 2011. Why?

    Because of simple syllable counts:

    Nineteen-ninety nine = 5 syllables [WINNER]
    One thousand nine hundred ninety-nine = 9 syllables

    Two thousand = 3 syllables [WINNER]
    Twenty hundred = 4 syllables

    Two thousand nine = 4 syllables [TIE]
    Twenty oh-nine = 4 syllables [TIE]

    Twenty ten = 3 syllables [WINNER]
    Two thousand ten = 4 syllables

    Comment by Patrick — September 25, 2009 @ 5:43 am | Reply

  11. Twenty-Ten is it. ‘Two thousand’ (2,000) is for counting UNITS, like ‘two thousand ten (2,010) POUNDS’ or ‘two thousand ten DOLLARS’. Christ born over ‘two thousand ten YEARS ago.

    But years are prounounced as a NAME, in a numerical, two-part hundreds fashion – 1910 = “nineteen(hundred) ten”. 2010 = “twenty-ten”(the ‘hundred’ is assumed.
    (Last century when people wanted to be formal, they’d say the ‘hundred’ word: “Class Of Nineteen Hundred and Ten”). NOTE: We don’t use commas for years, as they separate ‘thousands’, not ‘hundreds’. Commas are used for counting units of thousands.

    Our century is the ‘Twenty Hundreds’, just like the last one was the ‘Nineteen Hundreds’. 20 – not 2,000 – follows 19. Next century is ‘Twenty-One Hundreds’. Simple. ‘Two Thousands’ is inappropriate, as it would include 1,000 years – 2000 to 2999.

    Comment by Daniel — October 6, 2009 @ 2:30 pm | Reply

  12. My blogsters are on about this. Here in thailand its 2552 (twenty five fifty two)

    Comment by Emperor Ming — October 19, 2009 @ 7:57 pm | Reply

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