Posted by languageandgrammar on March 12, 2008
This falls more into the category of a language observation than a language abuse or grammar error, but it’s interesting to note that ever since the beginning of the 21st century, we’ve nearly unanimously changed the way in which we refer to the year.
In the last century, we invariably referred to the year in terms of two separate numbers, “19” and the year in question, such as “85,” “73,” or “98.” The only exception was when making a reference to the years before 1910, which were typically referred to as “19” and “oh 8” or, less frequently, “zero 8.” Rarely were the years referred to in words, such as “nineteen hundred and seventy three” or “nineteen hundred and eight.”
Something magical happened when the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2000 (and I’m not talking about world-wide disasters related to Y2K since that was one of the most overblown threats in the history of the world)–we suddenly changed the way in which we refer to years. It is now extremely rare to hear someone refer to the year as “20” and “oh 8” or “zero 8.” Nearly without exception, the year is referred to as “two thousand and eight.”
I’m not sure why this change has happened or what it says about language, but it’s an interesting thing to ponder.
Paul’s book–Literally, the Best Language Book Ever
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