Well, we've turned over quite a rock with the question of how to pronounce the Year Of Our Lord 2001. Here's some of what was crawling underneath.
Matthew Bobrowsky of Greenbelt kicks things off with a strong vote for "two-thousand-one." He says he might feel otherwise if "twenty-oh-one" had fewer syllables -- but of course, it doesn't. Matt also notes that he isn't voting for "two-thousand-AND-one" -- the third word of which is superfluous, yet annoyingly common.
Francis H. Yator Sr. of Hyattsville chooses "two-thousand-one" for a linguistic reason, not a numerical one. "I was taught that O is the 15th letter of the alphabet, not a number," Francis writes.
Phyllis R. Holt has a personal interest in the dispute. "I live at 2001 Columbia Pike in Arlington ," she writes, "and I can't imagine reporting my address as 'twenty-oh-one.' "
Gary A. Chopak of Vienna didn't take a position, but he did observe that the hit movie of a few years ago, "2001," was referred to as "two-thousand-one" in almost every corner of the land -- and in the film itself. If he had to vote, says Gary, he'd go with "two-thousand-one" -- "if only because it would bring us back in step with every other language I know."
Ken Cornelius of Silver Spring suggests that we copy what they did at the beginning of this century and call 2001 "twenty-ought-one." "What's wrong with tradition?" asks Ken. Nothing I can think of, reply I.
John Frank Kelley of Alexandria has a clever thought: "In a computer age," he writes, "how about 'two-K-one?' " He appends a line that doubled me up: "Frankly, I don't give a d---, my dear. I was born in nineteen-seven."
Finally, this wouldn't be Washington if there weren't an organized lobby waving its letterhead stationery all over one side of this issue.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure and my honor to give you the Society to Save the Proper Pronunciation of Years, and its president, Eric Hillstrom of Reston.
"Years are not pronounced by thousands of years," writes Eric. "They are pronounced by hundreds of years and have been for, well, hundreds of years. The last turn of the century was nineteen hundred. The next turn has to be twenty hundred. The years following are twenty-oh-one, twenty-oh-two, all the way to twenty-ninety-nine."
Eric fears that two cataclysms could befall mankind if "two-thousand-one" becomes accepted.
First, "many great songs and works of literature will be ruined." Where kids today sing, "Columbus sailed the ocean blue/In fourteen-hundred- and-ninety-two," they might start singing, "Columbus sailed the ocean blue/In one-thousand-four-hundred-ninety-two." Pleasing to the ear it's not.
Second, warns Eric, "we'll all start sounding like Harvard lawyers."
If either prospect horrifies you to pieces, you can join SSPPY by sending a buck to 11134 Saffold Way, Reston, Va., 22090. The buck will cover printing costs incurred when SSPPY floods the nation with anti-two-thousand-one literature, as it is preparing to do.
By the way, be sure to pronounce that zip code "Two-hundred-twenty ninety." Only a Harvard lawyer would say "Two-two-oh-nine-oh," eh, Eric?