Tuesday, January 05, 2010

No. Just No.

Dear Everyone Who Feels the Need To Remind People That the Decade Doesn't Really Start Until 2011:

Please stop. Not only are you being an intellectual snob, you are being an inaccurate intellectual snob. Yes, you are correct, there was no year "Zero". However, you are proceeding from a false assumption, namely that the celebration of a new millennium, century, decade, et cetera, celebrates the anniversary of the first year of the Common Era (or Anno Domini, if you prefer it.) In fact, the decision to mark the decade is a purely arbitrary one, which could be marked from any point (one might as well mark it from 1582, the year the Gregorian calendar was adopted,or 1752, the year it was adopted in Britain, just for example.) None of these milestones are actually important in anything other than human opinion. And since consensus opinion holds that we mark as important the years that are divisible by ten, we celebrate at those times.

Of course, since the division is purely arbitrary and unimportant, you may continue to celebrate the arrival of the new decade in 2011. Heck, you can celebrate the arrival of the new decade every year if you want to; it's always been ten years since ten years ago. But please, stop pretending that you're "more right" than everyone else when you do so. It's 2010 because the calendar's odometer rolled over to show a zero at the end. There doesn't need to be a better reason.


Mory said...

Are you sure?

John Seavey said...

I wasn't before, but now I am. :)

(This is funny if, like Mory, you noticed the post as soon as it came up. I accidentally clicked on the "Publish" button before I'd posted anything but the header. So for a brief while, there was a post that said nothing but, "No. Just No.")

(It would have been a less brief while if I hadn't gotten distracted yelling at the phone company.)

E. Wilson said...

"Heck, you can celebrate the arrival of the new decade every year if you want to; it's always been ten years since ten years ago."

Exactly what I've been telling people. This particular ten year span doesn't encompass any significance for me, because I didn't pass or start a major life event in 2000.

Matthew Johnson said...

The argument people make in favour of 2011 being the first year of the new decade is that "there was no Year Zero." The problem with this is that there was no Year One, either -- the Anno Domini system was developed in the 6th Century by a monk named Dionysius Exiguus, who backdated it to what he thought was the date of the birth of Christ. As you can imagine this was fairly approximate, and AD only began to be widely used in the 8th Century to boot, so there's enough room for error there that the "Year Zero" argument becomes spurious.

Fred said...

And regardless, it's an argument that, even if it had ever been accurate, would have been lost in at least Year Ten.

magidin said...

"Decade" means a period of 10 years. Every day is the end of a decade, the decade that began exactly 10 years earlier.

The 20s, meaning the years between 1920 and 1929, inclusively, is a perfectly fine decade. So are the "naughties" (2000-2009), and so will be the "tens" (2010-2019). It's silly to say that "the" decade doesn't start until 2011.

Now, '21st century' is a bit less silly because the phrase means the "21st century of the common era". *That* one did not began until 2001, though of course there was *a* century that will run from 2000 through 2099; just not "the 21st century". But nobody talks about the 201st decade of the common era (which will run from 2011 through 2020), so you are right.

People claiming that "the decade doesn't start until 2011 because there was no year one" are just idiots who feel they lost the argument back in 2000 and are back at it. They don't realize they are being as ignorant as someone claiming that 2000 would not be a leap year because it was a multiple of 100.