Let me explain... Often, whilst watching a TV programme or reading a book, I see/hear a sentence akin to "the mid-1800s was a busy time for industry" so I expect to hear about the late Georgian innovations, the Regent's Canal, etc. But then they start talking about the railways and the Great Exhibition and I realise they mean the middle of the 19th century, the mid-1850s, the Victorian era.
Similarly, "in the late 1600s" is really confusing – this could now have two meanings. It could be alluding to either the first or the last decade of that century! It's extremely frustrating and confusing, and
creates a situation where information might be incorrectly shared
because the terminology is vague. I have even heard presenters on TV programmes using both styles within a five minute timeframe. Eh? What? When?!
|Dates stamps on buildings, from the 1800s 1900s (ha ha). This collection of images originally appeared in Dec 2011|
However, whilst this new cover-all century-wide style seems to be becoming commonplace when referring to the dim distant past, I notice it is not being applied to recent history. A comparison I use to try to put a halt this silliness, is to point out to my contemporaries that we must have all been born in the 1900s (er, the Edwardian era)!