How should we pronounce 2011?

Is it “twenty eleven” or “two thousand eleven”?

I’m hearing more of the former, I think. By that I mean “twenty eleven” is more commonly used than was “twenty ten,” an the “thousand” thing is wearing off.

Sooner or later it will have to. I doubt we’ll be saying “two thousand thirty two” when 2032 rolls around. “Thousand” persisted through the ’00s (the “aughts”), but is getting a bit stale now that we’ve turned the caledar up to eleven.

I haven’t bothered to check, but is one more correct than the other? Does the AP have a position on this, for example? Just wondering.

19 comments

  1. Sherry Reson’s avatar

    I imagine it depends on context. We live in a world where people abbreviate in their day to day speech, and ‘twenty eleven’ rolls quickly and easily off the tongue. In the case of a formal pronouncement, I expect to hear – and imagine I’d use – “two thousand eleven.’ Or, for that matter, “two thousand thirty two.”

  2. Charlie’s avatar

    Consistency seems to indicate “twenty eleven.” We never said “one thousand nine hundred ninety-nine,” or “one thousand eight hundred sixty-five.” We said, ” nineteen ninety-nine” and “eighteen sixty-five.” and so on. People have looked at me funny ever since I started saying “twenty hundred!” :-)

  3. jason’s avatar

    you didn’t say nineteen hundred ninety-nine did you? twenty eleven!

  4. Carl Welch’s avatar

    I’ve been wondering this, too. I’ve been trying to make myself say twenty-eleven, but I think I’ve recently heard news anchors (like Jim Lehrer) talk about the two-thousand-twelve elections.

  5. Steven Parkes’s avatar

    I think it’s just a natural tradeoff of conservation of syllables against ambiguity. 2000 is three syllables. 20 is two. Most single digit numerals and 10 are single syllables whereas 11 is three. Plus 20-x is ambiguous (20-06 vs 26) whereas past 2009, there is no ambiguity. The big change this year from 10 (1 syllable) to 11 (3) makes people opt for the shorter.

  6. Terry Heaton’s avatar

    I wasn’t born in one thousand nineteen hundred forty six. ‘Nuff said.

  7. Terry Heaton’s avatar

    Oops, one thousand nine hundred forty six. Geez.

  8. Jan Searls’s avatar

    There is always “aught eleven” if you’re counting syllables; I doubt anyone would confuse it with 1011.

  9. Paul Price’s avatar

    What did people say in 1911? I’m pretty sure they said nineteen-eleven. I can’t figure out why we would end up doing it any differently. It’s not like twenty has that many more syllables than nineteen.

  10. Ariel’s avatar

    Well, there’s always a third solution and I’m in favor of it.

    The “20″ will be around for a century. That is plenty of time to give it the nickname “two” (by reducing “twenty” to “two”) and keep it until another century comes around.

    Therefore, “two eleven” is the new way to say “two thousand and eleven”, cutting out all redundancies, getting a fast, smooth and accurate way to name the approaching years.

  11. Brett Glass’s avatar

    It’s two-oh-double-toothpicks.

  12. Paul Hughes’s avatar

    Based on my experience over the last 11 days, almost everyone I hear is saying “Twenty Eleven”. So I think the “Two Thousand” will go away, especially if, after only 11 days, most people aren’t saying it anymore.

  13. Robert Rose’s avatar

    Doc,
    Trying to use twenty-eleven as much as I can…. Although I find myself slipping into the two thousand and eleven…

    And I always wonder if in thirty or forty years I’ll sound like my Grandfather did when he would tell me about “way back… back in nineteen hundred and 11 when I had my Hudson motorcar”

    Makes me wonder if they had this same discussion at some point… And when did the “kids” started saying Nineteen-eleven instead of Nineteen hundred and eleven…

  14. Andy’s avatar

    Twenty eleven sounds a bit too casual for AP style, IMO. But I haven’t picked up any official notices yet. AP editors will answer a direct question about it if you purchase a membership for $25. http://www.apstylebook.com/?do=view_recent_ask

    I miss 2010 already, because my friend gave me a laugh by coining the year Two K Dime, used mostly as a suffix to some official event.
    …Desk jobs can be boring, many days.

  15. Joseph Reagle’s avatar

    I find 2011 is easy on my lips.

  16. Dave Täht’s avatar

    I like what Charles Stross calls the 00s – the “Naughties”. I’m calling this year elevensies. Because I can.

  17. Pixxsie’s avatar

    I think ”Twenteleven” is easiest…. :-) Just four syllables as opposed to seven…..

  18. Ted Trove’s avatar

    I’m still somewhere in twennyten to be honest :), but I suppose twennyleven sounds about right :)

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