Around New Years, one thing is said more than during other months: The year. “See ya later, 2015! Hellloooo, 2016!” You get the idea. So what?
It’s possible you’ve been saying it wrong. And I’m telling.
Say 2000 out loud. I can’t hear you! That’s better. Now, 2001 (A Space Odyssey). Ok, try 2008. Did you notice a similarity between each year? More likely than not, you said, “two thousand *number*”. Yet, if you were to read 1804, your internal voice did not present it as, “one thousand eight-hundred and four”. It saw the number, “eighteen oh four.” Here’s the cool part (Well, if Oxford commas sound cool to you, this will also. If not, you should have stopped reading long ago. Now you’re in it for the long haul!). Say the current year. Both ways. Yes, it’s comfortable whether you use “thousand” or “twenty”. Why is that? And was this the case at every hundred (or even thousand) year mark? It adds a new perspective to human history.
I have an idea why we can get away with both readings today. Acclimation. Because going from the nineteen hundreds to the twenty hundreds sounds pretty uneventful, it was reframed as the two thousands. Remember Y2K and the digital nightmare which ensued? Exactly, because there wasn’t one. Nonetheless, as a result, few referred to the year 2000 as “twenty-hundred”. If you did, now is the time to speak up. That deserves a special Twitter and LinkedIn call-out.
Looking to the future, I’m betting we will move towards a twenty-something expression of the year. Why? Those born after the turn of the century will have no frame of reference for anything else. Given the readings of 1865 (end of the Civil War), 1492 (date when some horrible person got lost and thought he found India), and 1815 (birth year of Ada Lovelace, first computer programmer), few would say them as, “one thousand, eight-hundred, sixty five”, “one…”, well, you get the idea. I think the year two thousand was a rarity, probably not to be seen again until three thousand. There was an irresistible cool factor of living in the year two thousand (In The Year 2000!), while twenty-hundred sounds a bit…uncomfortable.
What else are you acclimated to which others may not have such comfort? Perhaps it’s how your lending program is run at the credit union. Or that your phone system still insists on telling callers to listen carefully, since the menu options have recently changed (get rid of this, now). Though there may be a few ways of “doing it right”, one will be comfortable for your members, while others might force them into a position where they aren’t familiar. Twenty-five years ago, it was a given you’d be using checks regularly, now, how many people under 20 even know how to write one?
In 2016, look at every area of your institution from a different perspective. One which thinks “twenty hundred” and doesn’t understand why you’d even offer paper statements mailed.
Happy New Year!
Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ColorfulFireworks.png