"Son de los años cincuenta."
Translation:They are from the fifties.
More when than where. The folks that lived at the turn of the twentieth century referred to the years between 1900 and 1910 that way: 1903 was "aught three"; 1907 was "aught seven." It sounds very old-fashioned to this ear, but I remember hearing it when I was a child from elderly people reminiscing.
In text, maybe. (Or "the '00s".) In speech? "The two thousandses" is ugly, ambiguous (does it refer to the decade, the century, or the millennium?), and has way more syllables to boot.
That still suffers with respect to ambiguity and relative length. "Aughts" is an elegant solution for pronouncing '00s.
Too many syllables. And "the aughts" seems to be pretty ubiquitous: http://www.mediaite.com/online/the-aughts-a-decade-of-huh/
Here it is in the New Yorker, which identifies it as actually the most commonly used term (though sadly rooted in a corruption of "naught"): http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/01/04/what-do-you-call-it
Arguably, a grudging agreement has been reached on calling the decade “the aughts,” but that unfortunate term is rooted in a linguistic error. The use of “aught” to mean “nothing,” “zero,” or “cipher” is a nineteenth-century corruption of the word “naught,” which actually does mean nothing, and which, as in the phrase “all for naught,” is still in current usage.
Of course, it's worth noting that this corruption first appeared in reference to years in the 1900s. Usage of "aughts" for the 2000s was initially a semi-ironic reference to the word's use in period dramas set in the 1910s and 1920s, where characters would be referring to that prior decade. "Back in aught five, mama died of the consumption."
I'm wondering if the frequent co-occurrence of "in" with "aught" might even be the source of the change. "In naught" could be mistaken for "in aught" very easily. Migration of Ns across word boundaries is quite common in English and many other European languages -- e.g. it happened with the word "orange", somewhere along its journey to English, from the Sanskrit root "naranga". http://www.vocabulary.com/articles/wordroutes/the-peculiar-journey-of-orange/
I live on the west coast of the US, in the SF Bay Area, and if you asked a hundred of my friends I'm fairly certain nearly every single one would recognize it. I've used it in both speech and text (email, FB, whatever) on numerous occasions, and never had anyone bat an eye at it.
From a collaborative / user-contributed source: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Aughts
In formal, lexicographer-assembled dictionaries:
That's interesting that you have so many friends who would use that word. Everyone I know would most likely know the word, but it just sounds weird when we use it in colloquial speech.
It also might be a generational thing. The language you grew up using will inevitably be different than that I am accustomed to. We have called English the same thing for a long time and will undoubtedly continue to do so, but what it actually is is always changing, like how the water going over Niagara Falls is always different, but the landmark is the same.
English is a very malleable language, and sometimes two people in the same area can have completely different interpretations and habits of usage. I can accept this as a minor nuance that is really not important in the long run, but is still fun to discuss.
By the way, good sources, especially the Washington Post article. In addition to providing an example of usage for "aught," it was very interesting.
I suggest that y'all check it out. It's a good read.
Nice come-back, bdickson and thanks auros, for the time you took to source your commentary. I enjoy seeing word use & origin discussions. I had heard the term "aughts," although it was even before my father's time.
From what I understand "son desde los años cincuenta" is more of they came from the fifties as if the fifties is a physical location that they physically moved away from or that they are "since the fifties" which doesn't make much sense, or at the very least, it doesn't make as much sense as saying: "son de los años cincuenta" = 'they are (people) of the fifties'.