What Year is it? Two-thousand eighteen? Twenty-eighteen? Does it Matter?

Nov 19, 2018

Credit Lumapoche [CC0 1.0] via Pixabay

You may say to- MAY-toe and I may say to-MAH-toe, but the 1930s pop song "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" demonstrates playfully that there are often various ways to pronounce certain words.  Even numbers are subject to differences of opinion. 

Take this year, 2018.  Some people say "two-thousand-eighteen" while others say "twenty-eighteen."  Is there a correct way to pronounce the year?  USC journalism professor Doug Fisher said it often depends on the region or dialect of the speaker.  "What you're really trying to do is make it understandable, and make it so you don't trip" over the pronunciation.  He concluded "either one works."

We sought agreement - or disagreement - from another source, Associated Press reporter Jeffrey Collins.  While the AP publishes a stylebook to guide writers with standards of writing and phrasing, with regard to pronunciation, Collins said "we at the AP don't have a specific style for it." Talking with news anchors, he said they do whatever flows out most naturally, which for most is "twenty-eighteen."

An unscientific poll of local people was inconclusive as to a preferred pronunciation.  Maybe that's because it was an unscientific poll.  

Fisher said the subject is fun to talk about, but ultimately the real question is, can you get your message across and will people understand it?   As long as it works to communicate the idea, that's what matters.