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Talking telephone numbers again

January 5, 2016

Since we’re on the subject of phones I’d like to repeat a point I made in a post a few years ago, about how to say mobile phone numbers (or cellphone numbers, if you are American). A lot of people simply recite these as a breathless string of 11 numbers (particularly infuriating when left as an answerphone message). Nobody can remember 11 numbers. Sometimes people put a pause after the first 5 numbers, then chunk the last six together. That’s a bit better, but still not easy. The best way to tell someone your mobile is to say the 07 bit briefly, followed by a pause (or even omit it – why bother with it? They all start with 07) and then give it as three triplets with short pauses in between ( 07 123 456 789). That’s very easy to assimilate and remember.

Yet I find when I do it like this, other people get lost, they act mystified, they try to repeat it with the pauses in different places. I still think my way is best, but perhaps the old habit of saying it in one or two chunks is too ingrained to lose.

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One Comment
  1. 5-3-3.

    This is also logical as people will usually give landlines as (area code)-3-3.

    In German class they taught us how to tell someone your number in the local way, which is 5-2-2-2.

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