Language beats logic

A few pedants tried to tell us that the 21st century didn’t start on January 1, 2000 and now they’re trying to tell us that tomorrow isn’t the start of this century’s second decade.

They were right mathematically then and they’re right now because there was no year 0.

But language beats logic.

Just as 2000 didn’t sound like the 20th century, 2010 doesn’t sound like the noughties. As the years roll on this argument becomes even more compelling; most of us say we enter our 20s when we’re 20 not 21 and few would be willing to wait to 101 to claim the title of centenarian.

Adam at Inquiring Mind takes the contrary view,  and while it may be correct it’s a minority one. 

This is one instance when right sounds wrong and most of us will go with a new decade starting tomorrow not a year hence because of the way it looks and sounds in spite of the logic and the maths.

5 Responses to Language beats logic

  1. Andrei says:

    “Just as 2000 didn’t sound like the 20th century”


    two thousand = twenty times one hundred or 20 centuries.

    Its all meaningless anyway – tomorrow the sun will rise in the east regardless of which decade it is or the nature of the calendar favored by any particular observer of this ageless phenomenon.

    Of course the so called circumcision calendar which defines New years day to be the 1st of January is a relatively recent innovation.

    The 25th of March was for many years New years day in the English speaking world – as a exercise in trivia see if you can figure out why?

    As an intellectual exercise to help pass the last day of the year relate the above to why George Washington who was born on February 11, 1731 has his birthday quoted as February 22, 1732
    February 22, 1732 in most modern publications.

    All of which puts the issue of which decade it is into its proper perspective.

  2. homepaddock says:

    “The 25th of March was for many years New years day in the English speaking world – as a exercise in trivia see if you can figure out why?”

    It can’t be the spring equinox because that changes.
    Is the 25th the ides of March?

  3. pmofnz says:

    HP, No cigar. The 15th of March is the Ides of March.

  4. pmofnz says:

    Andrei – the answer is here. A certain religious feast.

  5. Andrei says:

    Very close PM but not quite right – your link suggests New Years Day in France was April the 1st, it was actually aligned to Easter there, until the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar. However I asked about England.

    Indeed Greece only moved to this Calendar in 1923, I just checked, and the Eastern Church has still to fully make the move much to the irritation of the EU Commissars who are obliged to cater for two dates for Christmas and two for Easter each year.

    However the point is made that the day chosen New Years Day was far from universal even in European Christian nations until relatively recently. And the “start of the Decade” question is kind of empty.

    But the richness of our histories and heritages are not even though they are to all intents and purposes forgotten.

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