On New Year’s Day, I speculated (via Twitter) that we’ve now made it through the better part of this decade without giving it a single clear name. And not for lack of trying… we’ve seen suggestions ranging from the Noughties to the Zeroes. The point is that none of these has stuck in the popular imagination. VH1 has a series of TV shows variously called “I Love the 80s” and “I Love the 90s”. What do they call the show about this decade? I Love the New Millennium. This name, I feel, will reveal certain flaws over time.
Martin Wattenberg replied to my Twitter message, “And lacking a name for the decade, no one talks about it. Sapir-Whorf redux?” I had just been pondering this. Sapir-Whorf says that the nature of our thinking is colored by the nature of our language. So, if the linguistic “handle” for the First Decade is particularly slippery, perhaps it will transitively render the things that happened that decade as less memorable.
It’s been a newsworthy decade by any measure, but I can’t help but wonder if, historically speaking, George W. Bush will get off easier than otherwise because he had the good fortune to stumble into an exceptionally forgettable decade.
Does anybody know of languages where the First Decade doesn’t present any linguistic difficulties? Presumably in such a language the first decade of each century would show to better effect in the history books.