Take this year: 2004
Read it out loud. How did you say it?
Most of you, I imagine, said "two thousand and four". Nothing wrong with that, of course; I have just been wondering when it was going to change.
Clearly 2000 lends itself to "two thousand" more than "twenty hundred". 2001? Well, what chance was there, what with the film an' all. But even though "twenty oh one" was unlikely, I'm surprised it didn't make an appearance at all.
But after that... why not "twenty oh two", "twenty oh three"? When we get a few years down the line, are we really going to carry on? Will it be "two thousand and twenty four", rather than "twenty twenty-four"? Will it be "two thousand, one hundred and seventeen", rather than "twenty-one seventeen"? I really doubt it, unless the two thousand format is so automatic by then that people can't get out of it! Might we lose the "two thousand" bit all together instead?
My feeling is that people (a) are in a rut from the year two thousand, and just went onto "two thousand and one", "...and two" etc without thinking about it very much, and (b) the "oh" part of "twenty oh two" probably feels slightly awkward. So. My guess is that by 2010 the general spoken version should move to "twenty ten", and continue from there in that format.
Interestingly (or not, if you have a more exciting life than I do) BBC Radio 4 has recently started saying the years as "twenty oh three", "twenty oh four". I didn't know if this was a policy decision, or just an individual newsreader's / editor's style. I wondered partly if the station had decided that if they didn't start getting people into the "twenty" format soon, the "two thousand" would be permanently ingrained, and in a few years time, they will be wasting valuable syllables (and therefore airtime) every time they have to read out a year.
What d'you think then?