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Proper Way to Pronounce 2010? (TOW-2) February 27, 2010

Posted by Chris Yates in PRCA 3330-Topic of the Week.

     Stumbling over the pronunciation of a difficult word can be embarrassing, especially in front of a group of people. A student or practitioner in public relations should be familiar with most of the commonly misused words out there, but what about rules for the current year? In one of the recent blog posts at her Grammar Girl website, Mignon Fogarty addresses this issue and offers some advice. In a nutshell, there are two schools of thought on the pronunciation of 2010:

  • Pronounced “Twenty-ten”
  • Pronounced “Two thousand ten”

     Some polls are indicating that a majority of people prefer the first option. This is reverting back to the traditional pronunciation method used before the turn of the century. I personally prefer the traditional way, but Fogarty argues that both pronunciations are acceptable. This isn’t surprising to me, as certain situations sound better one way or the other. Here are some examples she gives from pop culture:

  • TV show Sealab 2020 (pronounced “twenty-twenty)
  • The “apocalypse” year, 2012, is commonly pronounced two thousand twelve

     It surprised me to learn how much attention has been devoted to a matter that I would otherwise have thought to be trivial. By the way, something just as interesting were her tips on ways not to pronounce the year. Ever heard anyone say “twenty-oh-ten?” You don’t want to get caught saying this as it is a redundancy.

     One more fascinating subject the post addressed was the nature of the year. Should it be considered a number that represents an actual amount or merely a symbol? A question that doesn’t have a clear answer, but the fact is that we tend to be more flexible with the pronunciation of numbers that don’t represent amounts. This leads me to believe that years should be primarily condsidered as symbols. Does this really make me want to say 2010 one way or the other? Nope, but it’s useful to know.


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