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11 January 2011

Deux Mille Onze

This week's email from Grammar Girl, my weekly source of grammar tips, had the subject line, "How Do You Pronounce 2011?" Bearing in mind my sort-of New Year's resolution to pronounce the year "twenty eleven" and not "two-thousand-and-eleven," I thought this mailing was perfect for me. On opening the email, however, I soon realised that GG was resolving the issue of whether to pronounce it "two-thousand-and-eleven" or "two-thousand-eleven." She says either way is correct, incidentally, although the former is much more common in Britain and the latter in the US (I'd say the former is near ubiquitous in the UK).

It seems she tackled the issue that interests me last year and goes on to say:
Last year people argued about how to pronounce 2010, and I expect the controversy to continue in 2011. One linguist thinks the difficulty of pronouncing "and eleven" will drive people to say "twenty eleven."
Indeed, I also hoped that the additional syllables in "eleven" would encourage me to stick to the "twenty eleven" pronunciation but I'm glad I'm not alone. So far, I haven't had many opportunities to say 2011 but I think I've managed to make most of them syllable-lite. Hopefully, I'll have it nailed by the end of the year; bring on twenty twelve. At the moment it's so much easier in France where they say, "deux mille onze"; not so much in 1999, where the year was pronounced, "mille-neuf-cent-quatre-vingt-dix-neuf."

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