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I'm aware of the two normal ways of giving a specific year, i.e. 1992 can be « mille neuf cent quatre-vingt-douze » or « dix-neuf cent quatre-vingt-douze ».

Is there any precedent for using the short form most commonly used in English, i.e. "nineteen ninety-two" translated as « dix-neuf quatre-vingt-douze » ?

How about for recent years? In English people often say "two-thousand and two" for 2002 (for example), but then say "twenty-twelve" for 2012 (and similarly for years from 2010 onward).

Would « vingt douze » ever be used for 2012 in French?

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    Never heard the French equivalent of "nineteen ninety-two" personnally... A common use is to tell "in ninety-two" for 1992 for example, but I never heard it applied to years after 2000 ... probably it will be so when I'll be old :-) – Laurent S. Jun 29 '15 at 12:27
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As far as I know, « vingt douze » is never used in French.

The two ways you showed above are the only ways of saying years, except for the years of the last century. That exception is commonly used in Québec and in France. As an example, 1992 can be said:

  • « mille neuf cent quatre-vingt-douze »,
  • « dix-neuf cent quatre-vingt-douze »
  • or « quatre-vingt-douze ».

Of course, you use the last one in a context, such as « en quatre-vingt-douze... ».

  • Archa is right, you can't group hundreds (19 54) without saying it is about hundreds (Dix-neuf cent cinquante-quatre). Also, the usage of not giving the thousands and hundreds when they are obvious is applied in France too. – Yohann V. Jun 29 '15 at 12:10
  • This is valid for France too. – Chop Jun 29 '15 at 12:11
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    There's one counter-example I found, but it's quite different because it's a product name and so it follows different rules. But still, just to note, in a bar, a seize soixante-quatre is the only way to name the beer commercially sold as "1664". Sorry for the unintended advertisement. But I'm fully supporting this answer, it was just a note. – RomainValeri Jun 29 '15 at 12:17
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    I'm thinking about it, and I think I heard people saying something like quinze trente-quatre (1534). But I believe this is an anglicism and is not recommended. – Archa Jun 29 '15 at 12:20
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    Dans un quiz, quand la rapidité de réponse est de mise à l'oral : Cartier c'est 15-34. Voir ici pour un anglicisme qui serait d'utiliser une apostrophe avec deux chiffres, par ex. '95. – user3177 Jun 29 '15 at 20:01
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I have occasionally heard « dix-neuf cent … » , but « vingt cent … » would sound pretty weird. Neither of those has fewer syllables than the more standard « mille neuf cent … » or « deux mille … » .

Note that « mille » can also be spelled « mil » for years 1001 to 1999, though you can't tell the difference in speech.

  • The weird part might only be a result of experience. – Yohann V. Jun 29 '15 at 14:25
  • Thanks! You're right that « vingt cent ... » would sound weird even to me with my very 'amateur' level of French. But this probably is just cultural; there's no good reason why people in Britain usually say "two-thousand and..." for years since 2000, but never say "one-thousand and..." for years at the start of the last millennium! That being said, since 2010 the tide is turning in favour of the more consistent usage "twenty ten" etc. – tok3rat0r Jun 29 '15 at 17:24
  • I forgot about vingt cent. Then there's like one and only way to say the year. – Archa Jun 29 '15 at 18:11

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