20-Aught-1, a Space Odyssey
From CJ&N's Mark Antonitis:
It is highly unlikely that Arthur C. Clark ever used “aught” as part of any number or considered it as part of the title of his seminal book and the unforgettable movie it spawned. But there were still people around the year the movie came out that would say nineteen-aught-one for 1901. I was related to one of them.
I clearly remember seeing one of the first ads for the movie when I was a kid in the late 1960s. When I saw the advertisement in a magazine I was thrilled. But I wasn’t quite sure of what to make of the “2001.” Never hearing anyone speak the title, I didn’t know if 2001 was a number, a year, or if it was meant to number the mission.
I was reminded of all this when I noticed anchors and reporters still flip-flopping about how to say the year 2012.
When the century was about to turn, no one said 2000. It was always “the year 2000” – more of a pronouncement than a date. Most people were saying two-thousand-two by 2002, but many were extending it a bit unnecessarily by saying two-thousand-and-two. There was even a core group of forward thinkers that has always insisted that it’s “twenty-oh-two.”
As I sit here today, the issue is as yet peculiarly unresolved. Most people still say two-thousand-twelve or even throw that extra “and” in there just to make it that much more ponderous.
I believe in efficiency and brevity in speaking (even though I can go on and on when writing). It is my steadfast contention that by 2020, there ain’t nobody gonna be saying two-thousand and twenty. Everyone will accept the proper way to say it is twenty-twenty. Anyone not giving in by then will form the nucleus of a 21st Century version of the Real McCoys -- quaintly and somewhat laughably anachronistic.
Here’s some evidence if not proof of that. I was watching a documentary on the construction of Hoover Dam on American Experience. In it there was a brief contemporary soundbite from, I’m guessing, the early 1920s. It was of an old fellow waxing about the great Colorado River flood of “nineteen-hundred and fourteen.” Wow did that clang on my early 21st
Century ears! Just imagine how some of us in today’s media will sound to a person living in 2112. What a bunch of hicks!