iOS app Android app More

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Cassandra M. Bellantoni

GET UPDATES FROM Cassandra M. Bellantoni
 

Why I Won't Be Saying "Twenty Ten"

Posted: 01/04/10 03:38 AM ET

Twenty ten. It's grammatically correct and no doubt rolls off the tongue easily. If I wouldn't have read my friend Alastair's Facebook posting, I'd probably be saying it too, but I have decided unequivocally that from now on I'll be saying "two thousand ten" instead and here's why -- Alastair posed a simple FB question:

What are you calling it? Twenty ten? Two thousand ten? Two k ten? O ten ten, or DGARA?

I admit I had to look up DGARA. It's a question I felt compelled to weigh in on because in 2001 I tried (as a fun experiment) to start a trend of saying "Z1, Z2, Z3 instead of letter O-1, O2, etc. Unfortunately, this didn't catch on and because Alastair was in the same building at the time, it brought back those memories. I typed in my FB response "twenty ten" and then Alastair sent me a link to a SF Chronicle article that changed my mind.

Turns out the properly named NAGG, the National Association of Good Grammar, insists that we are wrong to say "two thousand ten" versus "twenty ten." While I understand the logic of the NAGG, and I'm sure the guy who runs it, Tom Torriglia, is a nice guy, his logic annoys me.

Essentially NAGG says we should call the years "twenty ten, twenty eleven, twenty twelve," because we called the previous century "nineteen fifty, nineteen ninety nine" and so on. I admit that "We're gonna party like it's one thousand, nine hundred & ninety nine" doesn't sound perfect, but why do we have to do the same thing we did in the 1900s? It's been tough for the NAGG that we have strayed from proper grammar over the last decade. I can only imagine, but not everyone agrees, such as linguistics Professor George Lakoff of UC Berkeley, as explained by theChronicle:

"His explanation involves cognitive reference points, standards of speech and recognizing as anachronistic the notion that grammar can be right or wrong as people and cultures evolve."
I love the "people and cultures evolving" part. The very idea that we keep doing something because that's the way it's always been done, pushes my buttons. This logic is a metaphor for lots of things I don't like that run a lot deeper than how I'll be referring to 2010. It's a lazy sentiment that seems to be the root of many of our human failings and I'm not only talking to you, United States Congress.

While Ms. Asimov suggests the last decade to be grammatically incorrect due to the melodious sound of "two thousand," I say there's more to it. The year 2000 held a special promise in our collective consciousness. When we reached the milestone 2000, the future had arrived. It was big and worth the bigger number, two thousand.

As a little girl growing up, reading books and watching TV in the sixties, the year 2000 symbolized a faraway future filled with technological marvels and an advanced human society. Sure, there are gloomy ideas and end of the world scenarios for the 2000s, but I like the Star Trek version best. The 21st century would be a time when a Russian, Chinese, American, Vulcan and a Black woman could drive a spaceship together, working as a team on the bridge, each honored for her or his special talents, exploring the universe and managing everything from hand-held devices, while showing aliens how far we had come as Earthlings.

Technology has not disappointed. The technological advances of the last ten years alone have developed along with the vast expectations in our collective consciousness. But what about that advanced human society? The society that would never do something just because that's the way it has always been done before?

That little girl of the sixties believed that in the year 2000 war would be a distant memory of our barbaric past, all people would have equal rights, money would no longer be necessary, ideas would be the valued currency, and that we would be one united Earth, no longer a bunch of countries fighting for domination. I believe we have fallen short, and maybe that's why the whole thing irks me ten years into the new millennium.

I don't want the 21st century to be a slow natural progression and network scientists have proved it doesn't have to be. I believe we can skip ahead. I want the 2000s to be leaps and bounds ahead of the 1900s, deserving of the extra syllable. So, I will be saying "two thousand ten" adding that extra syllable as a placeholder for what I know we can become as Earthlings especially if we let go of old ideas that weren't that great to begin with and live up to what the 21st century is deep in our collective consciousness. Are you with me?

 

Follow Cassandra M. Bellantoni on Twitter: www.twitter.com/StarShineSpeaks