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proudmommy777
05-30-2008, 02:34 PM
My goodness, I just read the article about the numbering system used for the years during christ. I was very intrigued that the numbering system was, at that time, based on when Rome was founded... so I'm assuming, the year Rome was founded would have been I, and the following year would have been year II... or something like that.

Anyway, I was so amazed at how many people out there were so adamant that a new decade would not start until the end of 1990, or 2000, etc...! This really surprised me. I could not believe how absolutely RUDE some of these people were! Basically calling Cecil a damned idiot for getting that "wrong", but I've always heard it said the same way as Cecil explains it as well.

The first year was I... not 0, so it makes perfect sense for it to be the way Cecil explains it... Yes, a decade is any ten years... ANY SET OF TEN YEARS. We understand that. And when we say "the 90's" we really mean, anywhere from the year 1990 (or 1790 or 1890, whatever) until the year 1999. But the fact remains... the 1990's technically starts in 1991. What on earth is so hard to understand about that? I'm sure there are millions of other examples of us saying something that isn't EXACTLY precise, isn't there? So, is it so far fetched that the 1990's technically means 1991 until 2000... but when we SAY "the 90's" we mean 1990 until 1999? Come on, people! I've known this since I was in grade school! There was no year 0, so how is this arguement still going on?

Bytegeist
05-30-2008, 03:35 PM
The first year was I... not 0, so it makes perfect sense for it to be the way Cecil explains it... ... when we say "the 90's" we really mean, anywhere from the year 1990 (or 1790 or 1890, whatever) until the year 1999. But the fact remains... the 1990's technically starts in 1991.

I'm not sure that's what people are saying on this point. They're saying that a named decade technically does start on a 0, but that a named century or millennium starts on a 1. This makes the decade boundaries unaligned with the century and millennium boundaries — which, among other irritations, irritates some people.

I'm quite sure no one in that thread has any trouble counting, despite the name-calling. The argument really is just over the names of things, not the substance.

Exapno Mapcase
05-30-2008, 03:53 PM
And when we say "the 90's" we really mean, anywhere from the year 1990 (or 1790 or 1890, whatever) until the year 1999. But the fact remains... the 1990's technically starts in 1991. What on earth is so hard to understand about that?
Well, no. Technically you've got two different things, and they're exactly the two different things that everybody is arguing about.

The 90s run from 1990 to 1999. However, the tenth decade of the 20th century runs from 1991 to 2000. It's slipping all those zeroes in with the ending year that has some people tripping over themselves.

And notice that the tenth decade is the one with (mostly) nines, just as the twentieth century is the one with (mostly) nineteens. But each ends with an exception.

I'm not sure why people get so furious when confronted with a single exception, or why they can't make a distinction between the technical and the common distinction. But they do, and they can't.

Lemur866
05-30-2008, 05:21 PM
We should retroactively declare 1 BCE to be 0 CE, and slip all BCE dates backwards by 1. Problem solved, with only the minor irritation that every exact BCE date recorded in every book printed before 2008 will be wrong by our current reckoning. But tough times call for tough measures. And then we can slip in converting to the metric system while everyone is still groggy.

John W. Kennedy
05-31-2008, 09:07 PM
I'm not sure that's what people are saying on this point. They're saying that a named decade technically does start on a 0, but that a named century or millennium starts on a 1. This makes the decade boundaries unaligned with the century and millennium boundaries — which, among other irritations, irritates some people.No it doesn't. "The 1990s" and "the 200th decade of the Christian Era" have different meanings, and "the 1900s" and "the 20th century of the Christian era" have different meanings. If you mix "the 1990s" and "the 20th century", then you get a misalignment, but that's what you get for mixing two different systems.

pulykamell
06-01-2008, 11:23 AM
So, is it so far fetched that the 1990's technically means 1991 until 2000... but when we SAY "the 90's" we mean 1990 until 1999? Come on, people! I've known this since I was in grade school!

Well, then you've known wrong since grade school. I don't understand why people confuse these two different things. "The 90s" is not an ordinal name. If you said "the tenth decade of the 20th century," yes, technically that would be the years "1991-2000," since there is no year zero. But "the 90s" technically means exactly what it looks like it means: the years ending 9x. It's not a question of common usage versus technical definition.

It doesn't matter whether you're talking about years, temperatures, shooting percentages, etc. When you say something is in the "90s," it always means exactly what any speaker of the English language would think it means. The fact there was no year zero doesn't enter into it, unless you are ordinally assigning decades from year 1 (as in my example above, i.e. "the tenth decade of the 20th century.") Feel free to type "define:nineties" into Google, and see what you get.

bibliophage
06-01-2008, 01:23 PM
Not a big deal, but since there's already an active discussion on this topic, I'll close this thread and direct further comment to the earlier one: Don't ask Cecil for directions. (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=467729)