Wednesday, January 1, 2020


I know. It's not the rest of the world, it's me. But is there no newspaper, magazine, or TV news program that hasn't called 2020 the start of a new decade?

It is not. It's the last year of the 2nd decade. Years started theoretically with the Year 1. A decade is 10 years. The first year of the 2nd decade is year 11. And so on.

2021 will start the 3rd decade of the 3rd Millennium.

You can look it up.
Yogi Berra


ambisinistral said...

I'll out pedantic you... at one time I taught assembly language programming and I can verify you started counting a 0 not 1.


Chris said...

I am also quite annoyed by this. We just had this discussion literally 20 years ago.

roadgeek said...

I absolutely concur, but I'm always reminded that I'm being pedantic. Numbers need to be right, and we should show respect to numbers, especially when something like the calendar is involved.

I actually became aware of this fact back in the late '90s; "What is the last day of the 20th century?" was Final Jeopardy answer on "Jeopardy!". All three contestants along with myself answered incorrectly.

Speaking of, I suspect quiet discussions are going on at Sony regarding a successor to Trebek. I see by the papers that his cancer has come back. Ken Jennings? It's always a bit sticky when replacing an icon; comparisons are inevitable. Tim Carey worked out, but Richard Dawson will always be "Family Feud" in my book.

I'm sorry for going off on a tangent, but I think about these things.

ASM826 said...


Yes, in programming, zero is the first number. On the calendar, however, one is the first number.

Aesop said...

The map is not the terrain.
Just as Math is not English.

No, there was never a Year Zero. Which threw everything off, going forward.
(Blame the Arabs and their numbers, they're behind a host of current problems, so they're good all-purpose fall guys.)
Don't even get me started about the burp of Nothingness between 1 B.C. and 1 A.D.!! It makes mathemagicians' heads explode.

But the Twenties in any century always and forever consist of XX20-XX29, not XX21-XX30, inclusive.

You could look it up. ;)

Roy said...

All pendants aside, the fact is what most people are talking about are the "twenties", not "the third decade of the second millennium". Those are actually two different things. And, though the "the third decade of the second millennium" might indeed start on January 1st of 2021, the "twenties" started today, January 1st 2020.

Beans said...

Well, the Arabian number system is actually the late period Persian number system (if there's anything good that's Arab, suspect it's actually pre-islamic Persian) and the Persians got it from India.

Counting whole numbers, 1-10, 11-20,21-30, 31-40 etc. Look at your hands. Unless you table-saw incorrectly or your genes are messed up, you count on your fingers or toes starting with 1 and ending with 10. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10. Ten fingers. You don't start counting with 0.

10 fingers, ten crates. Zero fingers, can't pick up the crates.

And let's not get into the myth that Arabs/Persians/Indians(dot) created 'zero.' Okay, so they made a marker for 'nothing', 'nada,' 'zip,' 'zilch.' The concept of nothing or zero or zilch existed.

Ritchie said...

Words(numbers)mean things. Different words (numbers) mean different things.

Math is le hard.

The internal dissolution of civilization is not pretty, and it goes way down hill from there. Happy new year.

Murphy(AZ) said...

I will print this out and shove it in the faces of all those people who think I have a maniacal fixation on correcting them when they say the new decade has begun. Buncha ignorant morons!

Richard said...

OK, pedants, what is the last leap year of the 21st century. For those of you who answered 2100, you are wrong. Not because of the zero problem but because for years ending in 00, leap years must be evenly divisible by 400. So it is 2096. I regret I won't be around to see the fun.

Weetabix said...

You are not alone. This bugs me, too.

John said...

Yes and no.

Semantically, anyone who says that we've started the 20's is absolutely right. This is a nominal reference.

Anyone who is saying that the 3rd decade of the 21st century doesn't start until next January 1st is absolutely right. This is an ordinal reference.

I know (because I am one) that the urge to be a pedantic old curmudgeon gets stronger as we age, but my daughter out-pedanted me yesterday when she pointed out that every January 1st is the start of a new decade, and went on to point out a common phrase in history discussions; "In the decade since ,..."

As a test, I searched Google for ["in the decade since 9/11"] and there are +14K hits for that phrase.

As much as I used to secretly enjoy being a pedant about this topic, I'm willing to admit now that, while not exactly wrong, I haven't been 100% right either.

Archer said...


You're not the only one. :)

Borepatch said...

Archer, LOL.

But I mean, really - who can argue with VH-1's sweeping view of history, amirite?

Aesop said...

Well, as long as we agree that they are misnamed, since they should have been denoted as VH-0.

Anyone can do this. :)