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Millenium mistake

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Millennium Dome with Canada Tower. Millennium ...

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Here’s an apt headline in more ways than one:

The Artist of the Millenium Mistake

At the 2002 MTV Video Music awards, Britney Spears presented Jackson with a 44th birthday cake on stage. When Britney spoke of him as the ”artist of the millenium”, Jackson got confused and thought he was being awarded a nonexistant ”artist of the millenium award”. (Telegraph online.)

The wrongly spelt ‘millenium’ is then repeated in the copy. Might as well be consistent, I suppose.

In the writer’s defence, ‘millennium’ is commonly misspelt with only one ‘n’. The Oxford Dictionary of English explains that this is probably because the word is similar to other words spelt with one ‘n’, such as:

  • Millenarian (Not another word for a millionaire, but referring to the beliefs of a political or religious group. See Oxford Dictionaries.)
  • Millenary (Not related to making hats, but a word meaning a period of a thousand years, or a thousandth anniversary. See Oxford Dictionaries.)

‘Millennium’, on the other hand, is formed by analogy with words such as ‘biennium’, which means a specific period of two years.

The eagle-eyed among you will also have noticed that ‘nonexistant’ in the Telegraph copy quoted above should be spelt ‘non-existent’ (US: nonexistent).

Extra homework is being handed out as I speak.


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