It’s a New Decade!

Father Time

I’m suddenly responsible for a bi-monthly newsletter that shall go nameless in these pages (at least until I’m no longer responsible for it). I wasn’t responsible for it when it mentioned that 2010 was the beginning of a new decade, but I do have to suffer the slings and arrows of outraged pedants.

They want me to publish a correction, stating that January 1st, 2011 is the actual start of the new decade. I don’t buy it and I’m not gonna do it.

Oh, I understand that there was never a year 0, so the first year in our calendar was 1, and the first decade ended on December 31st, 10, not December 31st, 9.

But I still don’t buy it. Here’s why:

Tell me what decade was the one with all the hippies? The 60s, right?

When was disco king? The 70s, I’d say.

When was greed “good”? The 80s.

No one would say that something happened in “the 70th decade of this millennium,” and certainly not “the 197th decade AD.” We just don’t count that way when we talk about decades. Instead, we refer to them by the number in the tens column. The term “the sixties” doesn’t include 1970, but it does include 1960.

I don’t know what we’re going call the next ten years, but whatever term we come up will include 2010 and won’t include 2020. So no “correction” needed.

[The Volokh Conspiracy has a post on the same subject with the same conclusion.]


3 Responses to “It’s a New Decade!”

  1. January 13, 2010 at 9:35 am #

    I think no one was using that calendar until hundreds of years after the death of Christ.

    I totally forgot the Usenet standard “no amount of research or evidence will convince me otherwise” method of argument! I should have opened with that and saved all that typing.


  2. January 13, 2010 at 9:31 am #

    I object to the claim that there was no year “0”. The common calendar attempts to count from the birth of Jesus, right? Of course the whole thing is guesswork and estimates anyway. How many people were using this calendar when he was 10, or even 10 years after his death? But back to my position. What would the first year of his life have been? I say the year “1” started when Jesus turned 1, and the year from his birth until his first birthday (sometime in March?) was the year “0 A.D.”, and no amount of research or evidence will convince me otherwise. Therefore, the twenty-first century started in the year 2000, which also started the millennium and the decade previous to this one. End of debate.

  3. January 13, 2010 at 5:22 pm #

    From “Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.”

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