Date: Mon, 27 Nov 1995 21:20:16 EST


Subject: Re: Zero or "o"?

Marla writes:

Also, 'operator' might be considered as a reason for saying 'oh' in a

phone number. Looking at the key pad, however, it does appear that there is

a digit zero. I feel as if I'm being a bit relaxed when I say 'oh' and a bit

to 'formal' or overly correct when I say zero, but, ok, more precise too.

With all sorts of new computer/email codes and addresses it will probably

become more important to make sure these two symbols are accurately comm

communicated. Marla

Of course the Operator position was originally keyed to O because the latter

was referred to as "oh", or so I assume. Anyway, the one position we NEVER get

'zero' is in referring to years like 1903--yet there's no possibility of

analyzing that as '19-operator-3'. I have a feeling the full range of labels

is complicated and pretty interesting. In sports scores, for instance, the

losing score is "nothing" (never "oh" and rarely "zero") if it's baseball or

football, "nil" if it's soccer, and "love" if it's tennis. Otherwise, 0 is

usually "oh" for reasons of least effort in house addresses, dates, etc., but

as Marla points out this may change in computer addresses, as it already has

to some extent in other contexts where the value of a particular alphanumeric

symbol is otherwise unrecoverable (as between letter "O" and number "0") and

where the distinction matters--license plates, vehicle IDs,...