Actually, not so much an irritant, more of a question — why have we become so inconsistent when talking about the year? For example:
Norman the Conqueror landed on our shores in ten sixty-six.
Columbus discovered America in fourteen ninety-two.
Charles I got the sharpest of haircuts in sixteen forty-nine.
Stanley discovered Livingtone in eighteen seventy-one.
Germany invaded Poland in nineteen thirty-nine.
Why then did England flop in the World Cup of two thousand and six instead of twenty-o-six? Is it because when we hit the year 2000, we thought twenty-hundred sounded silly? By that token nineteen-o-six, eighteen-o-six and so on sound equally silly.
And if we have changed the system, how come exactly six years today, the twenty-twelve (not the two thousand and twelve) Olympic games will begin? What an inconsistent lot we are!