Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Decade!



Yes, it's a new decade. Of course it's a new decade. The 2010s by definition include 2010. If this isn't a new decade, 1960 wasn't part of the 1960s (but 1970 was). You're not really going to assert that, are you?

Those who are mounting Walshian objections to this reality are getting it confused with the fact that 2000 wasn't the start of the 21st century or the new millennium. Again, it's a matter of definition: The first century is 1 through 100, the second century is 101 through 200, and they told two friends, and so on, and so on, and so on . . .

As I observed 10 years ago, there is a weird disconnect between the way we define centuries and the way we define decades -- and between the two most common ways of referring to centuries. The year 2000 was the start of the decade we call the 2000s, and of the century we call the 2000s, even if the 21st century didn't begin until 2001.

One loyal correspondent raises the question of whether it's the start of the second decade of the 21st century. In-ter-est-ing. On the one hand, it's obviously not (see definition of century above). On the other hand, if the decade we call the 2000s was the first decade of the century, isn't the decade we call the 2010s the second?

11 comments:

Mia's Boys said...

Math is hard.

AMCIT said...

If we really choose to be technically correct, we ignore the hype, and note that every day is the beginning of another decade.

Every day is the beginning of another year, another century, and another millennium.

Just because these time intervals aren't labeled in popular press doesn't make them less real.

the Wicked Witch of the Web said...

I've always thought this is a silly debate.

If you count time starting at zero, then you start at 0.

If you start at zero in January counting years, months, days, hours and minutes, then one month into your count ends at 0000:01:30:23:59, i.e. Year Zero, January 30, 11:59 pm.

Your first year ends at 0000:12:31:23:59, and your first decade ends at 0009:12:31:23:59.

If you could reset a digital clock at Year Zero, then punch in 10 years worth of time, it would be pretty obvious that it takes a decade befor you get to Year Ten.

Library girl said...

Whoa! That just hurt my brain :O

BW said...

Just to be clear: Many of you are telling me that 1970 was not in the 1970s and, in fact, was in the 1960s. OK! Thanks for your input.

Ian H said...

The confusion arises from the fact that decades and centuries are counted in entirely different ways: centuries with ordinal numbers (19th, 20th etc), and decades with their prefix (1980s, 1990s etc).

If we numbered decades ordinally then 2010 would be the last year of the 201st decade and 2011 would be the first year of the 202nd.

But that isn't how we describe decades, we don't count them from the 1AD epoch, we describe them with how the numbers start.

The 90s, or "nineteen-nineties" to give them their full name, were years starting with the syllables "nineteen-ninety" ie 1990-1999.

Similarly the "noughties" (or whatever you prefer to call them) were 2000-2009.

Jane said...

2010 is the start of the "tens" decade. 1960 was the start of the "sixties" decade. Say it aloud. Nineteen-sixty. Sixty. Sixties. Two-thousand-and-ten. Ten. Tens. Two-thousand-and-twenty. Twenty. Twenties.

The decade/century and millennium disconnect is a weird one, though. My guess is that semantics have stronger influence with the more frequently marked era units.

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Ted said...

Reminds me of the time when I offhandedly remarked that upon my 29th birthday that I couldn't believe I was beginning my 30th year of life. The idiot I was with at the time disagreed with me heatedly, and I could not succeed in getting the simple concept through her head. Talk about frustrating.

Patrick said...

But, Wicked Witch of the Web, we don't count years starting with 0. We start with the year 1, when presumably Christ was born. Jan. 1 of 2 A.D. was the beginning of the second year of his life; Jan. 1 of 2001 was the beginning of the second millennium since he was born. There was no year 0 because the ancient Romans and Hebrews didn't have 0. The year before 1 A.D. is 1 B.C., not 0.

And by the way, there are 31 days in January.

Steven said...

A decade simply refers to a period of ten years. If the period of time one is referring to has to do with sixty, as in 1960s, or even 1860s, it is perfectly correct. There need be no argument as long as the period of time contains 10 years. If you want to consider 1955 - 1964 a decade that should be acceptable also. The delimiter used is not important as long as it contains ten years... as in I have lived here for over a decade, arriving in 1947....