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Happy 2010!

Posted by Richard on January 1, 2010

Nappy You Hear! 

New Year fireworks

May we all have a wonderful 2010 and close out this decade on a positive note.

What's that you say? It's the start of a new decade? No, no, no. You're wrong. Yes, I know — everyone's saying it's the start of a new decade. But they're innumerate — and wrong. 

Look, I'll walk you through this. It's not that complicated. Christian or not, we reckon time from the birth of Jesus, right? The year of his birth is 1 A.D. (Anno Domini — "The Year of Our Lord") (yeah, the strident secularists label it C.E. — Common Era — but it's the same starting point and they're not fooling anyone). So what was the year before that — 0 A.D.? No, it was 1 B.C. ("Before Christ"). There was no Year Zero. So you can't start counting with zero

The first decade (ten years) ran from the year 1 through the year 10 A.D. (or C.E. if you prefer), and the second decade began with the year 11 A.D. The first century (one hundred years) ran from 1 A.D. through 100 A.D., and the second century began with 101 A.D. The first millennium (one thousand years) ran from 1 A.D. through 1000 A.D., and the second millennium began with 1001 A.D. 

So, to bring us up to date, the last year of the second millennium was 2000 A.D., and the first year of the third millenium was 2001 A.D. Thus, the first decade of the third millennium runs from 2001 through 2010. The second decade starts on January 1, 2011 — one year from now. 

This brief lesson brought to you by Pedants 'R Us, insisting on mathematical accuracy even while inebriated, and wishing you and yours a most happy new year.

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4 Responses to “Happy 2010!”

  1. Jan said

    I appreciate the clarification. The “end of a decade” thing has been bothering me, too. I also appreciate the use of the word innumerate. It is precisely correct to use that word in this context. (I’ve long known that I can count on Pedants R Us for correct information, at almost anytime.) Happy New Year to you! I was asleep by 9:30. πŸ™‚

  2. Linda Seebach said

    It’s rue, but irrelevant, that Dennis the Short didn’t put in a year zero, but he was several years off anyway. And the main point is that we didn’t start counting “from the birth if Jesus” until several centuries later. At which point nobody knew when it was, so we could start the decades and the millennia any time we like. And that’s when the odometer flips over. The world voted in 2000.

    D you maintain as fervently that Pope Gregory had no right to drop 10 days from the calendar in 1582? Or that 1930 was the final year of the Roaring 20s?

  3. rgcombs said

    No fervor — just indulging my inner pedant (I tend to do that after a few adult beverages). Tongue was firmly in cheek.

    But (forgive me, I feel another bout of pedantry coming on) it’s not just that “Dennis the Short didn’t put in a year zero.” By the accepted method of reckoning, ”there logically can’t be a year zero.”

    Anno Domini — “The Year of Our Lord” — has to start with “The First Year of Our Lord.” And the preceding year has to be “The Last Year Before Our Lord,” preceded by “Two Years Before Our Lord,” etc.

    There is no logical room for “The Zeroeth Year of Our Lord” or “The Zeroeth Year Before Our Lord.” It isn’t just a whim (or failing) of Dennis that prevented us from having a Year Zero, it’s logic. Whether the actual count is accurate or not doesn’t change the logic of the counting.

    The world may have voted in 2000, but I celebrated the beginning of a new millennium on Jan.1, 2001 (well, to be honest, I celebrated in both years). πŸ˜‰

    The Roaring 20s are the years with a 2 in the tens’ position, so ’29 was their last year. Just as a person’s 20s end on their 30th birthday (but note that peoples’ ages, unlike the Years of Our Lord, begin at zero!).

    Thanks for stopping by! I hope you’re doing well and have a wonderful 2010, whatever decade it’s in. πŸ™‚

  4. rgcombs said

    To further clarify (damn, I’ve got to cut back on adult beverages), because I might have confused things by bringing up people’s ages: People’s ages, including Jesus’, begin at zero, and thus he became 1 year old a year after his birth. But ”the moment he was born,” it was “The First Year of Our Lord,” i.e. the first year in which he existed. Out of deference to the believers in his divinity, we didn’t stop counting when he ceased to exist. So our year-dating consists of a set of ordinal numbers beginning with 1. 1+10=11, 1+100=101, 1+2000=2001.

    Do not question Pedants ‘R Us!

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