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?