"I suppose we have the same problem today as with the 1900-1910 decade -- it's just awkward to say, 'The Zeroes,' or 'The Aughts,'" says David Kennedy, historian at Stanford. "
Thursday, 8 January 2009
As this year 2009 begins with a miasma of gloom, financial turmoil and yet another inexhaustible cycle of violence, I can’t help reflecting on this past decade. But a question of terminology bothers me.
Being old enough to admit remembering the sixties, growing up in the seventies and being a responsible adult in the eighties and nineties I am clueless as to how should I call this current decade. Here are some candidates I found in my search for the missing name.
The Ohs (0's) – Short, nifty and slightly slangish. Could you visualize yourself saying in thirty years time “We met and married during the Ohs, when we were all shaken by terrorism and the financial crash”?
The Zeros – Pretty cool. But this has a reductionary effect. “Look at her, constantly moaning about terrorism and the lack of corporate social responsibility – so zeros!”
The Oughts – That is how some people living between 1900-1909 used to refer to that decade in Britain. Hasn’t spread yet. Highly unlikely that Americans would use this term.
The Naughts – Has a nice twang to it. Also highly unlikely to spread. Imagine people born between 2000-2009 being called “the naughties”. Americans don’t use the word “naught” for zero. Besides, many Americans are too prissy for any public hint of forbidden pleasures.
The Oh-Ohs (00's) – This sounds a bit too artificial. With the global financial crisis and national debt clocks in many countries accelerating at the speed of light, this might signify people who owe and owe to everyone.
The Two Thousands (2000's) - Seems obvious though not very accurate. Will this also be used for the years 2000-2999?
"The Turn of the Century/Millennium" – Though rather long, this could become popular. But then it would include years on both sides, from 1995-2000 and from 2000-2010, wouldn’t it?
"The International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World," – This is what the United Nations General Assembly would like to call this decade. This gives me a shudder, something akin to what they say in Facebookeese - OMG! Can you imagine anyone except bureaucrats using this?
D12K – The first decade of the second millennium. Very geekish. Can’t imagine anyone actually using this.
The Bush era – This is hardly likely. People all over the world wouldn’t let America’s most miserable president dominate their vocabulary after he’s gone in a few days time. Some time ago, the words “miserable failure” typed into Google search gave President Bush’s biography on the White House site. Google 'rectified' the page and here's the reasons why.
Terrorism Decade – Bläh! Most people are already tired of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Blair fearmongering. Other things happened during the decade also.
Matt Soergel wrests with this same issue in Florida Times Union, Jacksonville.com.
Already in 2002, the BBC wrote that no one had any clue about how to call this decade.
The dilemma still remains. Can you solve this problem?