Zero intolerance

August 11, 2011

Could we please remind ourselves to correct at every opportunity the developing habit of referring to the 20th century as the 1900s?

Of course, the same problem affects other centuries. This evening on BBC2 I heard a historian with a doctorate, who should have known better, mention the mid-1600s when in fact she meant the mid-17th century rather than c.1605.

This misuse of English is resulting in miscommunication, confusion and misunderstanding. How are we to assess students who use a term that is acquiring a dual meaning? Should we give up and refer to the "long 18th century" as the "long 1700s", or the Twentieth Century Society as the 1900s Society?

Zero tolerance for the misuse of zeros! It is dangerous for everyone.

David Wilson, Dalston, Cumbria

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Daniel Mitchell illustration (29 June 2017)

Academics who think they can do the work of professional staff better than professional staff themselves are not showing the kind of respect they expect from others

celebrate, cheer, tef results

Emilie Murphy calls on those who challenged the teaching excellence framework methodology in the past to stop sharing their university ratings with pride

A podium constructed out of wood

There are good reasons why some big names are missing from our roster

Senior academics at Teesside University put at risk of redundancy as summer break gets under way

Thorns and butterflies

Conditions that undermine the notion of scholarly vocation – relentless work, ubiquitous bureaucracy – can cause academics acute distress and spur them to quit, says Ruth Barcan