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May 10, 2005


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Same way you know when someone tells you the time is "half past."

Context. *Usually*, still the beginning of the 1900s, unless otherwise assumed, b/c that was the last turn of the century. I mean, it isn't, obviousy, any more, but it's the most recent one on which we have the kind of hisorical perspective that would lead one to say "the turn of the century" as opposed to "a few years ago."

I guess I should have phrased the question a little differently. I think it's clear that references to "turn of the century" used right now always refer to the years around 1900. But, at some point, it will change. When a majority of people using the phrase are those who started using it after 2000? And will the change be that it first becomes ambiguous, and then clarifies again, or will the meaning sort of "snap" from 1900s to 2000s?

Idle minds want to know ...

When A Republican refers to the "turn of the century" he means the 16th Century, when a good old-fashioned witch hunt always preceded a good witch burning.

When a Liberal refers to the "turn of the century" he or she means the year 2000, when the worm turn of the century -- the election of George W Bush -- occured.

I generally use 'turn of the last century' when referring to 1900 - 1901. It remains to be seen if the changes 2000-2100 will equal the changes 1900-2000, but I think they'll be much more profound (especially if there is a society keeping records by 2100).

I think of it as the 1900s. The world was changing from agricultural to industrial. Look how far the world has come in 100 years.

how about this: 1900 = turn of the century
2000 = turn of the millenium

that will probably suffice until a long time after we're all dead.

Good idea, but it sort of implies that there is something about it being a millenium. I would suggest simply "turn of the last century" for 1900 and "turn of the century" for 2000.

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