Sir Richard Steele 1672-1729
The American Dialect Society has decided that the 2001 Word of the Year is the expression “9/11” in its various forms (e.g. nine eleven, 9.11, 9-11). It would be interesting to discover who first coined the phrase and the source of their inspiration, but I fear it’s probably a simple case of laziness.
I suspect whoever it was tried to apply the same logic as “24/7” (an abbreviation for “24 hours a day, 7 days a week”). Except, of course, that they got it wrong. In the case of 24/7 the units of time increase; hours are followed by days which are followed by weeks. But 9/11 is the opposite; the units of time decrease. So, the logic isn’t the same.
Of course, 9/11 is consistent with the standard US format for abbreviating the date in writing (i.e. month/day/year). But it seems strange that our spoken language should adopt the format of written English (or should I say “American”?). I was always taught that good writing should reflect the way we speak, but 9/11 is a case of speaking the way North Americans write. Here in Europe where the standard format is day/month/year, it’s only due to the incredible speed of the modern-day news media that we have realised those appalling events did not take place on the 9th of November!
Now, I gather someone has used the term to define an entire generation. “Generation 9/11” includes all those students who entered school in September 2001. I guess they’ll all talk like this:
“So, are you doing anything special for 12/25?”
“Yeah, I’m flying to Florida for 2 weeks. Leavin’ on 12/24 and I’m gonna party 24/7 the whole time! But don’t worry, I’ll be back for your big bash on 1/1. “
“Man, you oughta be more careful. That’s all so Sept 10th!”