Life’s Little Irritants No. 12

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!

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

5 comments… Add yours
  • Yorkshire Pudding 28th July 2006

    I had never thought about these weird inconsistencies. You’re right to notice them. As we entered the new millennium, I rather liked the idea of being in the “noughties” but it’s an expression that hasn’t really embedded itself in our national psyche.

  • Yorkshire Pudding 28th July 2006

    By the way, just to be helpful, why have your righthand details – blog roll etc. sunk right down your page? I think it’s because of your Daily Mail page with Zidane. If you narrow this image I think it will allow your righthand details to return to their rightful position.

  • Captain Broadchurch 28th July 2006

    The use of ‘o’ in the first decade of a century reflects the fact that each century has to go through a period of probation during which the major statesmen assess whether or not it’s worth keeping on and continuing with.

    Asquith was famously underwhealmed by the performance of the early 20th century, leading him to propose that the world repeat the 19th century in the hope that the extra time could be used to provide a better start for everyone next time around.

  • Kingghidorah123 31st July 2006

    Good grief! I’d never spotted that. Now that you’ve pointed it out, I am instantly irritated! Hehe!

    M x

  • Vote Franco (fdm) 26th August 2006

    Good point, but think of the practicalities.

    1906 – nineteen o six vs the year one thousand nine hundred and six.

    It’s easy to see why the first wins.

    2006 – two thousand and six vs twenty o six well interms of length and complication ther’re virtually the same. Maybe two thousand and six sounds snappier.

    But I’ll wager in a hundred years time…

    2106 – twenty one o six rather than the year two thousand one hundred and six.


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