# OT: number pronunciations

• posted on October 6, 2015, 10:26 pm
NO NEED TO REPLY TO THIS POST. IT'S JUST AN FYI... a "curiosity"
I've been surveying friends and colleagues to determine how they pronounce "strings of digits" (numbers) -- with an eye towards coming up with an algorithm that would "seem familiar" to most folks.
What was most interesting in their replies was the tremendous lack of consistency between them -- and, in their own handling of different (though very similar) test cases.
You might want to muse about how you'd pronounce each of the following (it's easy to come up with more examples):
[numbers less than 100 tend to be pronounced the same, regardless]
147 --> 100 & 40 7 1 40 7 100 40 7 (no one says "1 4 7")
102 --> 100 & 2 1 oh 2 100 2
1987 --> 19 80 7 1000 900 80 7 1000 & 900 80 7 1000 900 & 80 7
1,987 --> as above but no one says "19 80 7"
3275 --> folks seem more likely to treat it as 3000 200 70 5 than 32 70 5
1,234,567 --> 1000000 200 & 30 4000 500 & 60 7 1000000 200 30 4000 500 60 7
1234567 --> as above but also 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Of course, strings that are partitioned (like phone numbers, SSN) are handled differently.
Next on my list is to figure out where people "give up" on the "millions", "thousands", etc. and just start reciting groups of digits. And, how they group those digits! E.g., that last example could just as easily have been 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 or 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 etc.
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• posted on October 7, 2015, 5:14 pm
On 10/06/2015 05:26 PM, Don Y wrote:

And a string of digits is a NUMERAL. A number is the actual idea involved. A numeral is a verbal representation.
BTW, I seem to have learned that in third grade.
--
79 days until the winter celebration (Friday December 25, 2015 12:00:00
AM for 1 day).
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• posted on October 7, 2015, 5:55 pm
On 10/7/2015 10:14 AM, Sam E wrote:

And what we typically call "batteries" are actually *cells*; what we call "pills" are actually *tablets*; etc.
Technically, the "digits" are just *glyphs* used to *represent* numerals in the same sense that "letters" are glyphs used to build *words* (or, even "strings of letters" -- that may or may not represent words)
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• posted on October 7, 2015, 8:47 pm
Don Y posted for all of us...

Ask the GPS makers, or Dr. Spock. I think you will be reinventing the wheel.
--
Tekkie

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• posted on October 7, 2015, 11:01 pm
On 10/7/2015 1:47 PM, Tekkie® wrote:

There's a difference between "street numbers", phone numbers, dates, etc. and *arbitrary* sequences of digits. If there is nothing to restrict or constrain the digit string, then you have to be able to handle: "234982340958304903948532852095" just as effectively as "27"
[Unless your users are willing to accept "a bunch of digits that is too long for me to pronounce" as an adequate way of conveying such strings]
People tackle things like this in very different ways.
Some might expect each digit to be pronounced in a monotone at some fixed frequency: 2 3 4 9 8 2 3 4 0 9 5 8 3 0...
Some might "chunk" digits into groups of 2 or 3: 234 982 340 958 30...
Some might impose some other cadence to the recitation: 2 349 823 40 958 30...
Each person processes this sort of stuff differently. And, it also depends on what information is being conveyed in the value presented: do I need to know/remember this value (call Dr Seuss at 083021105)? Or, is it superfluous information that I can ignore, for now (error code 80034056)?
If I am conveying a number of *things*, you'd much prefer I use notions like "millions" and "thousands" and possibly ignore many of the lesser significant digits -- rattling off a string of digits doesn't help me understand the *magnitude* that is being represented.