Why do some people write "1950ies", "1980ies", etc?
June 19, 2014 2:18 PM Subscribe
I would write "1950s" or "1980s", and this is universal among native English speakers, so far as I am aware. In international contexts, however, I sometimes observe that people whose English spelling is otherwise flawless will consistently write "1950ies" or "1980ies", which reads to me like it has an extra syllable. Where does this convention come from, and what linguistic background makes it sound like a reasonable way to contract these numbers?
posted by Mars Saxman to Writing & Language (11 answers total)
I have not noticed a specific language background among the people who write numbers this way, though I have a hunch that it might be more prevalent among German speakers. It seems to be a matter of convention rather than error, though I don't understand why there would be an alternate spelling for numbers written in an English context which is never used by native English speakers. Or is there some English dialect which writes numbers this way?
I notice this because the number always reads in my head like it has a stutter - "nine-teen-fif-ty-eys" etc. I'm sure this is not the intended effect. I have not noticed this pattern with written numbers which are not decades, only with numbers referring to spans of years.