Once you stop calling this year “the new year” or “this year,” how do you pronounce it?
No, really, I’m wondering. I’ve been thinking about how we pronounce different years since I set out to make an index of my diary. (I’ll break with standard style for years and spell out how I’ve thought of the numbers to show you the change in my thinking.)
My diary goes back to nineteen seventy-five, and I have at least one volume for every year. The one for “the year two thousand,” as I had grown up pronouncing that year, is particularly large; the one for nineteen seventy-seven is particularly small. (Since I was in my early teens at the time, that probably kept a lot of ranting off the small pages.)
As I’ve gone through the indexing, I’ve gotten volumes out of dresser drawers which were not in order, but just where they happened to fit — so I’ve been thinking “Oh, there’s nineteen eighty-nine; both of those are nineteen ninety,” and so on.
But after the year two thousand, I’ve caught myself going back and forth. Two nearly square volumes are two thousand and one (not the sci-fi book, the year), but one large blue volume is sometimes two thousand and nine, other times “two thousand nine.”
Two big brown-and-white volumes are “two thousand and ten,” but that’s when I started to change the usage and drop the and at times. For instance, the party of the year was for the two thousand ten Stanley Cup Champions, the Chicago Blackhawks.
After all those years at school figuring out ages and time until the year two thousand, or later, I’m realizing that these are the years I grew up thinking about — and yet I don’t talk about them the same way I did then.
When I see an older person in a very old movie talking about nineteen hundred and oh-two, or some such long expression, I wonder why that was considered so funny. It takes time to get used to a new century — and we’ve got the new millennium to deal with, too.
So forgive me if I keep thinking of this year as two thousand and fifteen. It’s young. I’ll get used to it.
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