Sorry, it’s not the end of the decade

Yes, the new year has begun, but it’s not the new decade yet.  Sorry, but we still have another year to go before this decade is over.  So all of those “Best of the Decade” lists, such as Indigo’s Best [Books] of the Decade, Rolling Stone’s 100 Best Albums of the Decade, and Destructoid’s The Top 50 Videogames of the Decade (#10-1) are a year early, and therefore moot. And no, this decade is not actually ending with a blue moon.  All of these lists and “end of the decade” events are meaningless, since they are stemming from the exceedingly common misconception.

First of all, a decade can refer any set of ten years, but its main usage is to refer to specific sets of ten years.  The common misconception is that a decade spans from years ‘-0 to ‘-9.  This stems from referring to sets of years, such as the 1980s, as the “’80s decade”.  If a person is talking about the ’80s, they’re talking about the years spanning from 1980 to 1989, inclusively.  However, a decade in this sense actually should span from 1981 to 1990.

This is because there was no “0 AD”.  The calendar starts at 1 AD.  Therefore, the very first decade spanned from years 1-10, the second decade from years 11-20, and so on.  If you refer to a decade as a set of ten years spanning from, say, 1970 to 1979, this leaves the problem of the very first decade spanning from years 1 to 9.  This is only 9 years, and therefore, not a decade.  Whoops, that doesn’t work.  The years 2000 to 2009 isn’t actually a decade in the sense that everybody seems to think it is.

So no, the decade isn’t over, and today isn’t the first day of the new decade.  This New Years wasn’t really any more special than any other.  And all of those “Best of the Decade” lists are pointless, since the decade isn’t over.  But that’s not exactly news, since those lists are basically pointless anyways.  😛

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3 thoughts on “Sorry, it’s not the end of the decade

  1. This year is the start of a new decade, as it is a length of time, and time begins with 0… and please don’t give me the 0 AD argument as there was no 0 AD nor was there a 1 AD… Years were not chronologically counted for a few centuries afterward, and extrapolated backward through time… and even then the person who did the calculations got it wrong… so that argument is irrelevant.

    So I will have to explain it to you like this:

    A decade is a period of time in either personal or cultural life… If a length of time like a decade starts with 1 then babies must be born aged 1, turning 2 the next year, and turn 10 on what ordinarily would be their 9th birthday. But that is totally illogical as people celebrate when a baby turns one year old at the END of the first year, not at the start. If this baby (like a decade) was born at midnight (00:00 – time starts at 0) on January 1 2000, this person would not have been 1 until Jan 1 2001….

    It appears to me that your view of a decade is akin to how we see days in a month… For example, today is the 9th of January – or 9 Jan – it doesn’t say how many days in January there have been, just which day in order it is… Just as you say this is the 10th year of the decade (and therefore the century) today would in your concept the 9th of January 2010th… in that there have not BEEN 9 days in January, nor (in your opinion) have there BEEN 10 years in the 21st century

    Your concept would mean a 50 year old would still be in their 40s… while the 50 year old may like that idea of still being in their 40s, try telling a 20 year old that they are still a teenager…

    Hey, I will post this on my own blog… amazing what you think of when you reply to someone…

    Reply
    • Holy cow, somebody (outside of my family) actually found and read this thing! Sweet!:P

      Your statement about ages is correct, and I fully agree with you. When you are born, you are 0 years old, so on your tenth birthday, you are a decade old.

      However, years as we count them are not exactly like birthdays. On your first birthday, you turn 1 year old, having spent one year alive. However, dates in the way that our current calendar counts them actually did start at 1 AD, not 0.

      Anno Domini (abbreviated as AD or A.D., sometimes found in the irregular form Anno Domine) and Before Christ (abbreviated as BC or B.C.) are designations used to number years in the Julian and Gregorian calendars. The calendar era to which they refer is based on the traditionally reckoned year of the conception or birth of Jesus, with AD denoting years after the start of this epoch, and BC denoting years before the start of this epoch. There is no year zero in this scheme, so the year AD 1 immediately follows the year 1 BC.
      — Anno Domini, Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anno_Domini)

      Because of this, the first year of AD was from 1-2 AD, not 0-1 AD. This means that the very first decade stretched from 1 AD to 10 AD, inclusively. The second stretched from 11 AD to 20 AD, and so on.

      I know you asked me not to give you the 0 AD argument, but really, it’s why the decade will stretch from the -1 to -0. We count “modern time”, if I can call it that, as time from 1 AD, so you can’t ignore that it was the very first year. Yes, there is confusion over whether or not 1 AD was put into the right place, but our modern calendar is based off of time from 1 AD. Even if 1 AD might not actually be in the right spot, all of our calendar calculations are based off of it, so we must assume that it is the start of the present time (as I guess it can be called).

      If we are to count decades, they must start at 1 AD, otherwise, the first “decade” has only 9 years. This is exactly the same as centuries and millennia. The first century spanned from 1 AD to 100 AD inclusively, the second from 101 AD to 200 AD, and so on. When we refer to the 16th century, for example, it’s actually the years 1501 to 1600 inclusive that we are talking about. The same is true for millennia. All of these spans of time start at 1s, not 0s.

      So while a decade in a person’s life may end on their 10th birthday, this decade will end on December 31, 2010. January 1, 2011 will be the first day of the new decade. This is all due to a person’s age starting at 0, and years starting at 1.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and respond to this post. It really means a lot to me.

      Reply

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