I was just introduced to the most brain stimulating debate I have had in while and I thought I would share it with you. It is not a new debate, certainly not when you’re dealing with millennia. Late last night I sat at the old computer gathering info about the last decade for my end-of-year blog post and I came to the frustrating realization that there is actually a great deal of debate about this subject. It seems there is general confusion regarding how the decades and millennia are interpreted by the average Joe.
I must admit that I fell into the trap of believing the hype and had it embedded in my mind that the end of the first decade of the new millennium is about to end. Many people call this decade The Oughts or The ’00s. Clearly, then, the decade includes years that have zero as the third digit. Next year, that third digit turns to a 1, so the end of the decade obviously is at hand right? Consider also the popular terms affixed to decades. Since I am a child of the ’80s that would mean that can only years that include some derivative of 80 should be included. In no way can 1979 be considered part of the ’80s. Using that logic, 2010 must mark the beginning of the next decade. Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines a decade as “in common usage, a ten-year period beginning with a year 0, as 1920-1929.” All of these factors prove that this decade will end on Dec. 31, 2009, Right?
Another school of thought says that as we age, we are not said to be 1 until after living 12 months, and we do not celebrate a 10th birthday until after living 10 years. Logical conclusion: The next decade won’t begin until after 2010 concludes. If you think about millennia the first one thousand years started with the number 1 and thus ended with 1000. This means those years 1001 through 2001 would equal the second millennium. Following this logic the first decade of this millennium began with the year 2001, and the last year of the first decade of this millennium will be next year, 2010. This is a very compelling argument.
Does that mean Webster’s dictionary is wrong? No, the definition mentioned earlier, pertained to the “common usage” of the word. The same dictionary also defines a decade as “officially, a ten-year period beginning with the year 1, as 1921-1930.” Webster apparently wants to make everyone happy.
It seems like the debate itself will be lost in the sea of media outlets and emotional minds ready for this decade to be over. I for one am happy, since it gives me two years to consider and be respectful of all the wonderful, wondrous and sad things that have occurred in the last ten years.
Happy new year all!