Thursday, 22 July 2010

How old?

Recent discussion about the expressions "one-year anniversary" and "one-month anniversary" (neither of which is particularly exceptionable despite their registering on many newspaper readers' peevemeters) reminded me of a much weirder case: the expressions "one month year-old" and "one year year-old". These were first brought to my attention by Philip Eden in 2007, in a thread on alt.usage.english. Although the examples to be found on the BBC News website have changed, this usage is still going strong.

Here's some of what I wrote at the time:

"Week year-old", "day year-old", "hour year-old" and even "year year-old" are all out there, in all combinations of singular and plural:

Google unique hits, May 2007, UK hits in brackets
year year-old 742 (78)
month year-old 725 (149)
week year-old 167 (20)
day year-old 80 (6)
hour year-old 5 (0)

Here are some early(ish) Usenet examples. The first YYO is 2 June 1988, quoting from the Washington Post:
"Donald Gene Burleson, a 39-year-year-old Fort Worth programmer, has pleaded innocent to charges of computer sabotage and burglary..."

The first non-media example is by "JJ" on 23 February 1993: "I would envision a much more deeper feeling of loss for my 10 year year old."

The first MYO is by Hitoshi Doi on 11 June 1990: "My 8 month year old son reprogrammed ... the VCR!"

It appears that some people think that "-year(s)-old" is a set term to which the age must be added.

The current Google hit tallies for the expressions are: YYO 772, MYO 626, WYO 405, DYO 199, HYO 34. These totals don't include variants like "months year-old". There are also 513 hits for "century year-old".

Go figure.

1 comment:

  1. Reminds me a little bit of when people say 'The problem is, is...'