Friday, August 24, 2007

Is Decade for Nought?




The present decade is well into its seventh year, yet it still does not have a name. The 1920s was described as the “roaring 20s,” 1950s as “fabulous 50s,” 1960s as “swinging 60s.” But then how to describe the present decade - double zeroes?
In 1996, Barbara Walraff, a US columnist, had promoted it as “double-ohs.” Fortunately or unfortunately, it did not click.

Lexicographers are racing against time to find a proper name for this decade, now when it is already halfway through. This riddle seems to be bigger than the feared Y2K bug. In the case of the latter, the computer experts fixed the problem even before the bug could wreak havoc. But finding a name for a decade that has two zeroes is not an easy task.

The Cox News Service, a New York Times partner, quotes Allan Metcalf, executive secretary of the American Dialect Society and author of the book “Predicting New Words:” “I can remember around 1995, people started asking me what are we going to call the next decade... At that time I guessed ‘the zeroes’ or ‘the aughts’ or ‘the naughts.’ All those seemed reasonable.”

Now he suggests a new name, “the first decade of the 21st century.” But in this age of text messaging and the Netspeak, doesn’t this name seem too long and archaic? If we stick to this name, then how are we going to describe the fashion or the music or the trend of this decade - the first decade of the 21st century fashion or the first decade of the 21st century music? And what the cable TV channel VH1 - the host of popular nostalgia shows “I Love the ‘70s,” “I Love the ‘80s” and “I Love the ‘90s” - going to call this decade? “I Love the First Decade of the 21st Century?”
The Oxford Dictionary of English, in its new edition, named the decade as ‘noughties.’ It is defined as “the decade between 2000 and 2009.” Well, except for the double nought, the decade has no zeroes to its credit. So it should not be condemned to nought.

The namelessness of this decade has led to a number of contests on TV, radio and the Internet. Enthusiastic contestants have contributed weird names.

The hardest hit with this namelessness is the ad industry, because it cannot launch an advertising campaign on double zeroes. Some ad firms took the escapist route and deferred the choice till the time they reach the bridge. Others like the British public relations consultancy QBO commissioned a public poll. The result made a good laugh but served no purpose. Some 33% of the respondents favored the ‘zeroes,’ followed by the ‘oh-ohs’ and ‘the earlies.’



To me ‘oh-ohs!!’ sounds better, considering the amount of pain we have gone through in this decade - the war, beheadings, bombings, and to top these all the Tsunami.
On a more serious and somber note, this is a “decade of the disasters” - manmade as well as natural. It started with terrorist attacks on Twin Towers and Pentagon, which led to war and violence. Midway Tsunami struck, killing and uprooting hundreds and thousands.

1 comment:

chase said...

oh-oh is much more appropriate.
grabe.. naguguluhan sila just for titling this decade. =)