Date: Thu, 30 Nov 1995 13:39:58 -0500
From: Ronald Butters amspeech[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]ACPUB.DUKE.EDU
Subject: Re: Zero or "o"?
On Mon, 27 Nov 1995, Larry Horn wrote:
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,...
Let me further complicate the matter: my grandfather (and other Iowans of
his generation--and maybe my father as well [b. 1912]) said "nineteen
aught three" for 1903. "Aught" was pretty poplular, at least in Iowa, in
the earlier part of this century.