As part of the 365 Day Song Challenge, there are a series of entries about “Your favorite song of the 50s,” Your favorite song of the 60s” and so on.
Let me say up front that I am typically a stickler about dates. Normally, I will correct anyone who says, for instance, that the new millennium started on January 1, 2000. That is flat out wrong.
Similarly, it is incorrect to say the 21st century started January 1, 2000. It, too, was actually January 1, 2001.
Because there was no year “0”. So, “1” was the first year. It follows that the first century went from January 1, 1 to December 31, 100. Extrapolate and you find that the 21st century went from 1901-2000. Likewise, the first millenium went from the year 1 to 1000 and the second from 1001 to 2000.
So, if we extrapolate a little further to decades, the 60s should technically be 1961-1970. But for the purposes of the 365 Day Song Challenge exercise, that just feels wrong. (It also feels wrong to think that, being born in 1970, I was born in the 60s.)
So I’m going to break the rules and say the 50s, for this purpose, are 1950-1959; the 60s are 1960-1969 and so on.
I know it’s incorrect. Most people won’t care. Some of you will. I usually care, too. But not in this case.
Further, I will always use “the 50s” (or whatever decade) and not “the 50’s” which is more commonly seen. It’s also technically wrong, a symptom of an apostrophe happy society that puts them in places they shouldn’t be, either because they’re ignorant of the rules or stupid. Apostrophes denote either possession for nouns (but not pronouns) or a contraction (that is, missing letters). That’s why “it’s” means “it is” and not “belonging to ‘it’.”
So, if you say “the 50’s” what you are saying is either that there’s something missing between the “0” and the “s” (there isn’t) or that the decade owns something (it doesn’t). Someone will try to tell me that something “belongs to that decade” and thus “50’s” is correct. No, it isn’t. Something can be part of that decade, but a decade cannot own something.
(For the record, this whole apostrophe travesty is one of my biggest pet peeves. Having said that, I do catch myself typing the wrong one every once in a while. I usually catch it. Not always. And when I don’t, I hate myself for days. All right, maybe not days, but for a minute or so. So be nice and forgive me, because I know the difference and made a mistake. That’s different than being ignorant or stupid.)