Year of the Comma – An Existential Comment

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2,009 versus 2009

When you need to write two thousand and nine, as in “five thousand years ago, two thousand and nine people participated in the world’s first game of Twister” (they didn’t), you might also write it as “5,000 years ago, 2,009 people participated in the world’s largest game of Twitter…” (no points, just a comma, for spotting the difference).

So, the question I have is why would we also write: “Today is May 9, 2009 and, 5,000 years ago, 2,009 people participated in the world’s largest game of Twitter“?

If we write 2,009 for a number, why do we drop the comma when we write 2009 for the year? When we write 10,000 B.C., moreover, we add the comma too.

My existential question du jour: When we get to the year 10,000 A.D., will we or will we not have integrated the comma? And if we do, at what point will some governing body decide to do that? Just the changes in computer programming to add the comma, much less the implications of Y10K with 5 digits, seem to boggle the mind.

I think this is a question we can safely put on the back-burner. Failing that, we can hand over to some under-utilised bureaucrat in some over-run government. Your thoughts?

One Comment, RSS

  1. Steve Goetz

    How about some comments from an underutilized magazine publisher?

    First off, it is correctly written two thousand nine, no “and” in between. Secondly, when a date is written, a comma always follows (unless a period, of course). Thirdly, never start a sentence with, “And.”

    Okay, now that I’ve been deleted as a “friend,” I believe the comma is there to deliniate the number, to make it easier to understand. By the time we’re in a year where you and I would need that help, there will be no more you and I, so it shouldn’t be a problem.

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