I just read the following phrase on a blog I frequent (which will remain unnamed to protect the blogger): “I ought to care that a decade is about to end (in 17 days!).” No, it isn’t, unless you are referring to a moving 10-year unit that came into existence in Year 11.
Now I recognize that there are calendar units called “decades” and cultural units called “decades.” They seem to be one year apart. The calendar decades take into account that there was no year “0.” There was the year “1.” Hence, a decade ends on the last day of a ten-year period that starts on the first day of a numbered year ending in “1,” e.g., 2001, 2011, 2021.
Culturally, we have tended to think of decades as beginning in numbered years ending with “0,” e.g., 2000, 2010, 2020. It makes it easy to label the various generations, e.g., millennials, Gen X, etc. Remember the Y2K scare? Disaster was to strike at the start of the new “century,” January 1, 2000.
I have occasionally posted on Facebook about ultra-endurance cycling events. In my summary of, say, the finishers on Race Day 27, some commenter will invariably ask if I am a day off, since the race clock shows their time as 26:xx:xx? So, I gently remind them that there is no Race Day 0, just as I am in my 70th year, which will not be completed for some months yet.
The language of math is complicated, no?Published in