How do you like to read a phone number?

Atilla Filiz atilla.filiz at
Mon Jan 5 11:23:21 CET 2009

In Turkey, our numbers are 7 digit excluding area codes. If you're calling
within your city you tell the number as
### ## ##
If it is an inter-city call, you dial 0*** ### ## ## where *** is the city
code. Mobile numbers also have three digit codes like they are different
cities. Finally, if you dial into Turkey from abroad, you dial +90 *** ###
## ##
But when I'm abroad, or telling the number to somebody in English, I tell it
digit by digit.

On Thu, Jan 1, 2009 at 11:32 PM, Pander <pander at>wrote:

> For the thread that could be a mailing list on its own:
> I've noticed a funny effect on reading out numbers in different
> languages. I'm from the Netherlands and here we say 'eight-and-twenty'
> (achtentwintig) for the number 28. In English, you'd say twenty-eight.
> This reverse reading is also in German, but not in French. It differs
> from language to language.
> After spending half a year in an English speaking country, I noticed
> that after I came back I had difficulties writing down numbers like this
> when someone said them to me. This audio-to-written-conversion task was
> difficult for my brain since it was confused whether to use the English
> or Dutch reading. I experienced this not only with telephone numbers but
> also when writing down numbers from laboratory test in university when
> someone else would read out the measurements of the devices.
> However, paying in a shop when someone would read out the price of
> something is not a problem at all. I asked more people that stayed
> abroad for a longer period of time where a language is spoken that also
> interchanges the reading of the numbers, if they had the same challenges
> and some did.
> So when someone says to me, my (eight digit) telephone number is
> twenty-eight thirty-four ninety-seven fifty-four, for me, this is not
> brain friendly and usually I asked them to read it out like two eight,
> etcetera. However, when I have to remember a short number of four
> digits, like a postcode, e.g. twenty-four ninety-five, I have no
> problem, because this is mapped into the money domain, just like a price
> of something. The "tell sell" doctrine. ;)
> Do some of you have the same experience?
> I would like to suggest not to use this in reading out telephone
> numbers, even though this might be your national way of writing/saying
> these things. Usually there is not a sound information ergonomic reason
> behind it. More the history of how the numbers grew larger in a certain
> country.
> The brain is perfectly capable of remembering longer groups of digits.
> Take for example
>  2314 7869
> this is faster and easier processed by the brain than
>  23 14 78 69
> Regards,
> Pander
> _______________________________________________
> Openmoko community mailing list
> community at

Atilla Filiz
Eindhoven University of Technology
Embedded Systems, Master's Programme
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