As November comes hurtling tpward us, I keep hearing about things with seasons or series that last through this year and next — the ’20-’21 seasons. Of course, that’s hard to hear any differently from things that are happening completely next year, 2021.
At least it’s hard to hear if you pronounce it the way that seems most common in U.S. broadcasting, “twenty twenty-one.” So I’m going to avoid saying it that way when I can.
Of course, I grew up hearing about the ’77-’78 school year and the ’80-’81 hockey season, so I’m used to the idea of two numbers meaning years for beginnings and endings. It’s just that I’m getting a bit tired of the number 20 after using it for double duty all year — 2020 and ’20.
I grew up hearing about “the year two thousand” long before that became the formal way to say it and Y2K became the standard casual way. Arithmetic classes featured story problems about “your birthday in the year 2000” and other things based on what that huge number would be. The “two thousand and” style of speaking about years hung on for a while; I didn’t really think of it as vanishing until this year. (That’s enough reason to bring back “two thousand and” right there, eh?)
If we refer to this year as 2020, or “twenty-twenty,” that makes a season that spans Jan. 1 a tongue-twister: “twenty-twenty to twenty-twenty-one.” Saying ’20-’21 might work if the context made it clear, but that’s not always. Saying “two thousand and twenty-one” is clearer.
Besides, who wants to keep being reminded of 20 — of this year — all the time? Personally, I’ll pass.
Margaret Serious has a page on Facebook.