too much typing—since 2003

9.28.2008

aughts for naughts

Over at his spankin' new blog Reading Pronunciation, my pal Miles wonders why it is that no one's come up with a clever nickname for this decade yet. (It could be worse: it could be retroactively named like MTV named "The Big Eighties"...)

I have this vague idea that around the turn of the millennium (the odometer-turning-over, big-round-number millennium, not the pedants' millennium marking a numeric event that's just as illegitimate since there was no "Year 1" either - oh wait, looks like I'm earning the right to celebrate that millennium after all...) I came up with some clever name for the then-upcoming decade - but I can't remember it. Probably vanished along with the Y2K problem.

That locution, though, reminds me of one of the two irritating year-related things I've noticed since the beginning of the 2000s. One: the use of "2K" as part of a slangy way to write the year designation, as in "2K8." Folks, "2K" is two characters, so you're only saving a single character by typing it that way...and since you have to hit the shift key to do so, slowing down the flow of characters, you're saving no time at all. (See also: "@" for "at" outside of e-mail addresses.)

The other is people who, in using the date format m/d/year or d/m/year, leave off the initial "0" in the year field, creating date like "9/7/8" (that would be either September 7, 2008 in the US system or July 9, 2008 in the British). That simply doesn't look like a year - more like some bizarre hybrid shoe size - and with two digits in the month or date field - say, 10/15/8 - looks even weirder. I can understand dropping the "0" in month or date fields - for the month, there are only three that go into two digits, and for date, there are enough of them that the usual numeric designations (which do not generally include leading zeros) seem sufficient. But it's conventional to refer to years by dropping the century designators (i.e., the first two digits) and leaving the last two years of the number (thus the more traditional "'08" as an example). A naked "8" there simply doesn't mark out the concept of year, and makes one confused as to whether you're using yet another date system (such as year/month/date). But mostly, it just looks stupid, in my entirely subjective opinion.

5 comments:

Miles said...

Yeah, namechecked in Jeff's blog! Score!

Aaron said...

Strange that you're so annoyed by both of those things, since they seem very closely related to the question of how to mark this decade.

People are used to writing years as a decade (the tens digit) and a "real year" (the ones digit). Writing "2K" for the decade returns it to being a single chunk of information, rather than the weird prefix "200"-- those zeroes just don't work the way we want bits of our year-name to work.

(If you write "1970s" it's clear that you mean a decade. But "2000s" could mean this millennium, this century, or this decade.)

At least, that's my theory. If just as many people write "2K10" for 2010, then I was wrong.

2fs said...

It is true that the century/decade ambiguity is potentially a problem...but I don't think "2K" is a solution, since it literally refers to the century (if not the millennium) as well: "two thousands." My guess is that people aren't being that literal when they write the year "2K8" and that we will indeed see some folks writing "2K10"...

I think "the twenty-aughts" has a certain ring to it...

But that single-digit year thing is messed-up.

jonderneathica said...

I like "the Naughties" as a nickname for this decade.

Miles said...

There's also the Jethro Bodine nomenclature, and we could be calling these the "double naught" years.

I haven't actually seen anyone do the "2K8" sort of formulation that's dicussed (and rightly dissed) here.