Let’s call new year by rightful name

By Don McAlavy: CNJ columnist

Let’s call the new year Twenty-Ten. Not Two Thousand Ten.

Down here in Florida, the Perspective Editor at the St. Petersburg Times, Jim Verhulst, has the right idea:

“Until the turn of the millennium got us all confused, we had an easy familiarity with each year:

“When did William the Conqueror invade England? Ten Sixty-Six.

“When did Christopher Columbus cross the Atlantic? Fourteen Ninety-Two.

“When was the Declaration of Independence signed? Seventeen Seventy-Six.

“And that Tchaikovsky piece? The Eighteen Twelve Overture.

“Pearl Harbor? Nineteen Forty-One.

“How did Prince want us to party? Like it’s Nineteen Ninety-Nine.

“In those good old days literally no one had to spell it out. If you sawthe year 1950, you knew to say “Nineteen Fifty,” not One Thousand, Nine Hundred, Fifty. No questions asked.

“Then came the new millennium — the stentorian Year Two Thousand. The Year Two Thousand. The Year Two Thousand led to Two Thousand One, Two Thousand Two and so on, as if we were counting pennies in a jar.

“Perhaps it was habit. Perhaps Two Thousand One landed on the ear better than Twenty-Oh-One, but with the turn of a new decade, it’s time to go back to the future, to the ways of saying the year that served us so well for centuries until the 10 years of ‘00s – the aughts, the zeros, the Ohs — call them what you will — discombobulated us.

“Twenty-Ten sounds perfectly natural. Clocking in at three syllables, it’s more economical than the ponderous mouthful that is Two Thousand And Ten.

“In starting to say Twenty-Ten, you’ll be leaving behind all those bad habits picked over the last decade and honoring history in going back to the way we used to do it. And you know that even if we get it wrong for another whole decade, come 2020 we will certainly have the vision to say it correctly — as Twenty-Twenty.

“But why wait? So Twenty-Ten? 10-4.”