Tuesday, January 12, 2010

We Don't Really Get It

Three journalists have contacted us so far asking for SPOGG's opinion on how we pronounce the year we're currently enjoying. Is it twenty-ten? Or two-thousand-ten?

Here's our stock answer:
It doesn't matter.

We said nineteen-eighty and no one thought twice about it, though we probably should have thought twice about the shoulder pads and auto-tinting glasses. So twenty-ten is just fine. We also said "The Year 2000" (insert ominous sound effects), so calling it two-thousand ten isn't going to confuse anyone. And that's really the point of thinking about language and what we call things. Is our meaning clear? Then huzzah!

Anyone who does get in a kerfluffle over this could probably use a hobby. Still, the debate is better than the one about whether 2000 or 2001 was the first year of the millennium.

And now, we'd like to toss the issue to the fray. Is there something we're missing? Why do people care about this? Is there some point of clarity, elegance, wit, and/or style that can be achieved by sticking with one over the other? Do tell.

*Note...Blogger isn't letting SPOGG post comments today, but we wanted to respond to the "kerfluffle" kerfuffle in the comments. The word appears both ways in various dictionaries. According to the OED, it was originally "kafuffle" and has appeared as "kuffufle." We like to think of it as the sound effect made by scuffling feet in a fight. The spelling depends on the shoes you're wearing.


Asa Davis said...

I actually created a quiz on this topic on Doodle about two months ago. I think it is still open if people want to vote. I allowed participants to vote for multiple items if they used different terms. http://www.doodle.com/8rquvkt92kzptwas

This came about because one of my colleagues was referring to this year as "Twenty o' ten" while discussing future planning. I guess he plans to live a long time.

Jessie said...

Isn't the word "kerfuffle"?

Bob Cumbow said...

There's no harm in having more than one way to say something, as long as it's clear and accurate. "Twenty-ten" saves a syllable, for those who are into conserving breath.
It is not a matter of opinion as to what was the first year of the current millennium.

Bob C.

Adam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adam said...

I've noticed a lot of my contemporaries get all in a tizzy about making sure everyone knows that they'll be saying it "correctly" with twenty-ten, so I've been pondering this for some time. Usually I'm all for pedantry, but this time, I'm not so sure. We just spent ten years saying two thousand-whatever and I'll be damned if I'm going to change my behavior NOW.

Mark me down for two-thousand ten.

Peggy said...

Twenty-ten or two-thousand-ten is fine with me, just don't add "and" in there any where. Now that's wrong!

Unknown said...

Jessie - I was thrown off by "kerfluffle," too. Mostly because I'd just read it in a blog on The Lousy Linguist where it was spelled "kerfuffle." I looked it up and it seems the words (is it still considered two different words when they mean the same thing and only differ by one letter?)are interchangeable, but I do find it interesting that I read these seemingly rare word(s), which I've probably only seen once or twice in my life, twice in one evening.

Unknown said...

They used "kerfuffle" in "Anne of Green Gables, the Sequel." So maybe it's an antiquated Canadian saying?