Sunday, September 22, 2013

The unnameable decades

How do you call the first 2 decades of a century?

For all other decades we have names: the 90's, the 80's, the 70's, all the way to the "roaring 20's". But before that, we reach a limbo. What name to use? The "10's"? The "00's"? How do you pronounce "00's"? Double o's?
Only the year 1900 has double 0's. There is only one "0" from 1901 to 1910. So the first decades should be called "O's"? And how do you call the decade from 1911 to 1920? The "10's"? And how to pronounce it? The "ten's"?
We are alreday in 2013, the second decade of the millenium, and yet, because of this unnameability of the first decades, nobody talks about the decade from 2000 to 2010. That decade has no name. It  could be called the "double O's" since each year of that decade actually has double O's.

It makes sense to call the 20's as "the twentys" since each year actually has the word "twenty", just as we could call the "Obamas", the "Kardashians" or the "Jacksons".

But for the first decades, there is no common word... Well, from 1901 (nineteen-o-one) to 1909 (nineteen-o-nine) we have the word "o", so it could be called the "o's". And what about the "10's"?
Should they called the "teen" years? Because that is the common word from 1913 (nineteen thirteen) to 1919 (nineteen nineteen).

The Voldermort years, I mean, the decades that should not be named, are completely absent, not only from the collective conscience but also from history books.
The 20's were the "roaring 20's". The 30's were the depression years. The 40's were the war years. The 50's had rock'n'roll, Elvis Presley. The 60's had Beatles, Woodstock, first man on the Moon.
Each decade had very clear and distinctive characteristics.
But there is nothing to talk about the first 2 decades because they are unnamed and unnameable, and in consequence, also unreferrable, untalkable, undiscussable, unthinkable...
Sure there was war between from 1914 to 1918, but nobody associates that war to the decade.
There is nothing to talk about the decade per se. Because since the decade is unnameable, it also doesn't exist.

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