It’s time to finally stop saying “two thousand” when speaking of any 21st Century calendar year, and start saying “twenty.” We are now in the year twenty-nineteen, and not two-thousand nineteen. Year after year people (including news anchors for CNN and MSNBC) have stubbornly insisted upon “two thousand” this and that. I’m asking everyone to please stop it. For the next 80 years we’re going to be in the twenties, not the two-thousands.
The pronunciation of Stanley Kubrick‘s 2001: A Space Odyssey screwed things up for God knows how many millions. I realize that the first year of the 21st Century had to be pronounced two-thousand, and of course the following year had to follow the Kubrick. (Nobody in that 1968 classic ever said “two-thousand one,” by the way.) But for too many years people have been sticking to that absurd verbal tic, and after 20 years of living in the 21st Century I really think it’s time to stop it once and for all.
We’ve now lived through two full decades in which the year has begun with the number 2. For a century before 12.31.99, the year began with nineteen-something. When John F. Kennedy was elected president no English-speaker ever said the year was “one-thousand nine sixty” — they said “nineteen sixty.” Years are always pronounced as a pair of two-digit numbers. The Declaration of Independence was signed in seventeen seventy-six — not one thousand seven seventy-six. Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in eighteen sixty-five, not one thousand eight sixty five.