Happy New Year to my faithful subscribers (all three of you!) and anyone who happens to read this.
Of course this wouldn’t be a blog, especially not one of mine, if I didn’t use the opportunity to have a bit of a rant. Not only that, but it is one which has been at least thirteen years in gestation…
We started the Twenty First Century with the quite manageable “Two Thousand” (although we insisted in prefixing it with “The Year…”). The Noughties were a bit more wordy with “Two Thousand and Blink”, as indeed were the first two years of whatever silly name the media coin for this decade (The Depression?). Yet here were are in “Two Thousand and Thirteen” with a grand total of six syllables for the first time. Even if we drop the ‘and’, the remaining five syllables hardly trip off the tongue.
At what point will vocal brevity, linguistic efficiency, or simple human laziness drive us to our senses and return to the simple Twentieth Century convention (and each century before, for that matter) and universally use “Twenty Thirteen”?
Good old Seb Coe did his best, as it was obviously a branding diktat that the Olympics were to be Twenty-Twelve… inspiring the title of the hilarious television spoof in the process. I’d hoped that was the catalyst society needed to come to its senses.
Yet it is already plainly evident that Two Thousand and Thirteen will continue to permeate through our airwaves and face-to-face conversation. In a world dominated by the written word – social media rather than dead tree publishing these days – it is unlikely a consensus on how to express the year’s digits will prevail without influence from an organisation such as the BBC. Yet that august body fails to impose a consistent approach on the subject with presenters seemingly free to use their personal choice (if if they can no longer broadcast their personal Twitter names – but that’s a subject for another rant!).
After writing the above I conducted a straw poll with the next two people I saw: When asked “what year is it?”, after giving a strange look which only Marty McFly would recognise, one replied “Two Thousand And Thirteen” whereas the other was a “Twenty Thirteen” advocate. When asked why; “well, it’s shorter…”.
Once again, best wishes for Twenty Thirteen to everyone….