Compromise on the real new millennium thing!

I really don’t understand why I’m only now seeing tons of apoplectic messages about 2001 being the ONLY REAL start of the new millennium…I’m certain that there were nowhere near this many in 1999. At the same time, though, I have no illusions that this issues will just fade away.

So I’m offering a compromise.

I remember a Cecil column in 1990 (don’t know the exact one, sorry) where a woman was shocked that “the decade hadn’t ended”; her response was “You mean we’re still in the 80’s?”. You know what? She was absolutely right. Now, you can define a decade as any 10 years (just as you can define a millennium as any 1000), so there’s nothing wrong with calling '81-90 a decade, but there is absolutely no way that '90 was in the 80’s. The same, needless to say, is true for any other decade.

Likewise, 1901-2000 can be considered a century, but the 1900’s lasted from 1900-1999. Period. There is no way that 2000 can be considered part of the 1900’s…not logicially, traditionally, emotionally, spiritually, or any other way (and of course, the same’s true for any other century). Furthermore, '00-99 comprises the years of a century that’s referred to by number; 20th century, 19th century, etc.

The fact that 2001 is the start of the new millennium is generally (cough, sputter, gag) accepted to be true because there was no year 0. At the same time, the 0-9 and '00-99 designations for decades and centuries have also become accepted practice. They’re there, no one’s seriously proposing changing them, and at any rate it’s unrealistic to change a system that’s been in effect for…well, centuries.

So here’s the compromise! 2001 is the start of the new millenium, but 2000 is the start of the new century (the 21st) and decade (the…whatever. Did we ever settle on anything?). It makes perfect sense, it’s based on things a lot of people agree on, and it allows the 2000 and 2001 camps to stop screaming at each other.

So how about it? Anyone with me?

‘The 80s’ is not part of a formal dating system. It’s perfectly acceptable to consider 1980 to 1989 ‘The 80s’. Some people think of 1982 to 1988 as ‘The 80s’ because of cultural phenomenon.

When you are talking about numbering centuries and milleniums, you are talking about a specific number of years, and because of that it’s important where it starts and ends. The first century was the years 1 through 100. Simple enough. We just got out of the twentieth century, years 1901 through 2000.

Your compromise just won’t work, as it’s just flat out wrong. The twenty-first century did not begin until 1/1/2001, same with the third millenium. Feel free to call 2000 to 2009 ‘The Aughties’ or whatever, but if you call the year 2000 the beginning of a century or millenium, you WILL get corrected repeatedly.

1990 was not part of the eighties. It was, however, part of the 199th decade, as were 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, and 1989. 2000 is clearly part of both the 20 century and the 2nd millenium. In fact, both the 20th century and the 2nd millenium were essentially named after 2000. You see, the whole “there is no year zero” is part of a larger phenomenon: the time periods are named after their ends, not their beginnings. Year one was called year one because at the end of it, one year had passed. The first decade was so called because at the end of it, one decade had passed. The twentieth century was so called because at the end of it, two centuries had passed. 2001 is the beginning of both the 21st century (at the end of which, 21 centuries will have passed) and the 3rd millenium (at the end of which three thousand years will have passed). If you want to call 2000 the beginning of something, call it the beginning of the two thousands, or the aughts. Don’t call it the beginning of the 21st century. Why would the twentieth century contain no date with the digits “20” in it? That makes no sense at all.

No matter when you believe the third millennium started, most people can agree we’re in it now. I, for one, am glad no-one bought the (correct) assertion that the new millennium started January 1, 2001. After all, did anyone really enjoy all the millennial hype?

It’s over. Let it rest.


Badtz M - We start from a number beginning in zero and end in a number beginning in nine. We do this because it’s convenient and it makes sense. I’ve already explained that a decade or century can encompass any number of years, so it really is up to us exactly which years they are. Every single source I’ve ever read defines a century as '00-'99 (for example, the 16th century was 1500-1599). I see no compelling need to change this.

“But Darrell, that means the first century began in 1 BC! Which would would put 1 BC in two centuries!!” Your point being? Every year is already in a hundred centuries, it’s just a matter of when we start counting. And was 1 BC really that big a deal, especially in comparison to, say, the Reformation era or the Industrial Revolution, to the extent where having it in more than one century would actually be a problem for anyone?

Fuggedaboudit. BTW, if you ever actually suggest that 1990 was in the 80’s, you’d better expect to be corrected an awful lot. Or maybe just get lots of funny looks.

Ryan - Why would the 20th century not contain a year beginning in 20? Because it contains a hundred years beginning in 19, that’s why! And maybe it’s just human nature to start at a nice, round number like zero. I remind everyone that calendar systems are a human invention; therefore, there are no “absolute truths” or whatever. The 1900’s absolutely did end in 1999, and I’ve never heard anyone seriously argue that those years did not comprise the 20th century.

I mean, why the heck not? A century is a certain 100-year period and a millennium is a certain 1000-year period. There’s no reason they have to absolutely match up.

Consider “sweeps week”. It goes from Thursday to Wednesday, IIRC. So technically, technically, the sweeps period comprises two weeks. But because it lasts for exactly seven days, it’s called “sweeps week”. The sweeps months are May and November, IIRC, because they’re the months in which sweeps week is held. Different designations for different time periods. Makes perfect sense, no? Really, what’s the harm?

DKW writes:

Every single source? Show me some non-brain-dead sources. Saying “I’ve got a source” doesn’t count - give a name, preferably a URL. Hopefully they are sources people have heard of, such as a newspaper, encyclopedia, etc.

How about this - from Encyclopedia freaking Brittanica:

Have you heard of Encyclopedia Brittanica?

That’s right. Did you read The Ryan’s post? It covered this quite nicely.

Have you been asleep for three years? Just about everyone on the frickin’ planet has seriously argued that.

It’s really simple. “Darrell’s Funky Century” can be any 100 year period you like. “The 1900’s” is 1900-1999, as that name implies “years that start with 19 in the hundreds place”. “The 20th Century” is 1901-2000, because of the way the calendar was designed.

I’m really looking forward to your list of every single source in the universe that gives bogus definitions of the 20th century.

If every single year in the 20th century starts with 19, why is it the 20th century? That makes no sense. It should be called the 19th century.

Obviously, it’s not.

Just because something is arbitrarily defined, that doesn’t mean it isn’t defined. Try referring to black people as “niggers”, and see if people buy your argument that since words are human inventions, there are no “absolute truths”, and you can use words however you want…

Am I nobody? Is Cecil?

Memo to self…never, ever offer any kind of compromise on this board ever again…

Ryan - The 20th century is comprised of years beginning at 19 because those years comprise the twentiteh century of the millennium, not the nineteenth, eighteenth, or any other century. The fact that it looks strange to you is immaterial. I thought it looked strange a long time ago, until I learned that it was true.

I have never, ever, in any source, seen 1901-2000 listed as the 20th century. No offense, but at some point you gotta go with the consensus.

How is it obviously not human nature to start at zero? Time starts at zero. Statistics usually start at zero (sports, for example). Why not dates?

You’re comparing a racial slur to a definition of a period of time? Are you insinuating that me claiming that centuries begin at zero is the same as the “n-word”? Sheesh, this is worse than comparison someone made of my criticism of a child sports league having to change its rules to accomodate a tiny minority players to the Great Leap Forward.
Look…there was a huge party on new year’s day 2000, and I celebrated with billions of people around the world. So sue me.

Here’s a source that disagrees - Calendar: Humanity’s Epic Struggle to Determine a True and Accurate Year, by David Ewing Duncan. On page 296, he says:

When counting out things, one generally starts counting with one, not zero. I see no reason why counting years is any different from counting everything else.

::Looks at watch::
I just see 1 through 12 on here. One minute before before 1:00 PM is 12:59 PM, not 0:59 PM.
When a new month starts, we don’t start with 0, do we? The first date in a month is 1.

While it is absolutely true that the 20th century ran from 1901-2000, I can understand the confusion when countless books came out at the end of 1999, heralding the twentieth century as being from 1900-1999. (Bookmakers probably reasoned that the vast majority of the public would be more interested in buying these books as 2000 neared, than a year later.) Not to mention the irritation that these so-called end of the century books didn’t even manage to wait until the end of 1999, much less 2000. May seem trivial, but I still have a LIFE Magazine 1980’s special, which astoundingly doesn’t even mention the fall of the Berlin Wall! Astounding, until you realize it was published before the 1980’s had even completed. But then, they must have figured by the time 1990 rolled around, there would be less interest in the previous decade. Just like a book published today probably wouldn’t sell very well, even with all the data from 1901-2000 in, since most people are ready to look forward, rather than back.

I have no problem with various media proclaiming the start of a new century in 2000, as that is defensible. But when they start throwing around the term “21st Century”, then they are in error, as it wasn’t until 2001 that that period of time began.

Fortunately, or unfortunately as the case may be, now that we’ve passed this milestone, we can all go back to focusing on our accepted system of recognizing each passing decade by the Aughties (2000-2009), Teens (2010-2019), Twenties (2020-2029) and so forth, as no one has yet convinced the public to use the other possibility: the 201st Decade (2001-2010), the 202nd decade (2011-2020), the 203rd Decade (2021-2030).

Incidentally, perhaps the earliest published 20th century book was a book titled, appropriately enough: “The 20th Century”. Big book, with lots of news headlines, photos, a real nice coffee table book. Thing was, it covered the years 1900-1986. Not only did it start in the wrong year, but due to being published 14 years ago, kinda ends before its time…

You can offer a compromise, but you must actually be willing to read and listen to others. For example…

It is highly irritating to read this from you just two posts after my post in which I cited the Encyclopedia Brittanica. That’s a very mainstream source. You have not provided even ONE SINGLE SOURCE that lists 1900-1999 as the 20th century, but your vague recollection that you have seen plenty such references trumps my actual reference.

I’m sorry if I’ve seemed a bit short with you. It just seems that you are not willing to provide any help to us in understanding where you are coming from, for example by providing a reputable source for your century cut-off. If you persist in claiming not to have seen a single source after others have provided you with very reasonable ones, it will be difficult for many here to take you seriously.

It’s ok to offer a compromise. Just be sure your compromise makes sense.

It isn’t true. If the 20th century was 1900-1999, then the 2nd century was the years 100-199, right? So the first century was made up of what…1-99? That’s not a century. Don’t say it starts at zero because it doesn’t. It starts at 1.

If the consensus was that it’s safe to swim in a tank full of hungry sharks after cutting yourself, does that mean it’s right? The consensus on this topic is wrong. Period.

How is it not human nature to start numbering at zero? Well, because it ISN’T. We all had to readjust our thinking to start counting at zero when we took computer programming classes. The use of zero as a number wasn’t even widespread until about 300 BC. So why don’t you show us all how it IS human nature?

Actually, even though it was invented (or discovered) by the babylonians and mayans a few centuries B.C., according to this page, it wasn’t really widespread until the 9th century (800’s) A.D.

Any year that passes by can be considered a centry or a millenium, or even a decade. after all 1988 is 100 years from 1888 right?
What is right is when we number those centries and millenia we do so at the 1 mark. So the year 2000 could be a millenia or a centry, but its not entering the “3rd” millenia. its just a plain old boring millenia.(I hope im spelling these right, too lazy to grab a dictionary atm)
Nor is it entering the 21st centry. When you do number them like that you have to remember that even though the current calender wasnt widely used untill…ack, cant remember the date, but I do think it was pretty late, like 1500’s, the number process has to be used as if it were used from 1 A.D.

As in the 80’s, I would agree, that the Term 80’s does not have to refer to said numbering. I dont see why it could not be 1980-1989, nowhere does it say the “decade of the 80’s”, just the 80’s. It has the requirments to be the decade of the 80’s also, just doesnt meet the requirements to make it the 198th decade.

… It’s really simple:

The Christian Era begins with year “1”. The Cahtolic church says so, and no matter what you think of them, they’re the authority on the subject. After that, if you can count, every new millenium begins in a year that ends in “1”. Period. If you can’t count, it can end in any year you like (which is kinda like legislating Pi to be “3” because 3.1415 is too difficult for kids to remember).

Now you can count 1000 years from what ever marker you like, and call that a millenium, too, but it’s not the christian millenium. The Jews use a diferent mark, and the Muslims could reasonabley set one on Muhammad, but the date systems used in most of the western world is the Christian callandar. Get over it, or admit that you can’t count.