A major lingering question for the last couple of years has been this: what are we gonna call this decade? The Sixties, Seventies, Eighties and Nineties were easy, but six years into this first decade of a new century, the Oughts keeps coming around. I never would have thought of this label, but I'm curious if this is a good way to label this decade.
Until a few weeks ago, I only heard about individual years (like "oh-six" and "oh-eight"), but no decade names. I thought the 2000s was a good name. I also thought the Double O's was a great label, but then I realized that the year number is made of digits, not letters. The Oughts tag was brought up in a book interview I did with Jim Suptic a few weeks ago. I didn't really understand what he was talking about until he said, ". . . or whatever this decade is called." Now, after reading Ernie Brown's excellent article on being single these days, the Oughts tag feels like it's going to stay. But I argue that the Oughts tag doesn't sound right.
Saying the Oughts sounds like I'm talking about somebody with the last name of Ott (like Jeff Ott from Fifteen). Plus, ought sounds short for an otter or a nickname for the school bus driver on The Simpsons. Ought is often used as a verb, but it can also mean the digit zero. So, that's the saving grace? Well, there aren't that many alternates available. Saying the Zeros sounds either like a garage rock band or gang of losers accepting their loserdom. So we're supposed to settle on the Oughts? Well, it doesn't roll off the tongue like Eighties or Fifties, but I guess this will do. Still, it sounds weird to me.