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# More Efficient Number Pronunciation

Substantially faster than English
 (+21, -5) [vote for, against]

I've made a much more efficient system to pronounce base-10 numbers. In it, each digit is represented by a consonant sound and its place value is represented by a vowel sound. The digits 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 are s, n, t, d, b, sh, f, k, and r. Ones are i ("ee"), tens are o ("owe"), hundreds are a ("ah"), thousands are e ("ay"), and ten-thousands are u ("oo"). In numbers with more than five digits, each group of five digits (counting from the right) has an extra syllable at the end - seperated by a hyphen - except for the last one. In that syllable, ou ("ow") means *10^(n*5), where n is the consonant at the beginning of that syllable. In numbers with more than fifty digits, oi means *10^(n*50) and is put at the end of each group of fifty digits - seperated by a hyphen - except for the last one. Groups of five digits are separated by commas. So, one is si, two is ni, 50 is bo, 78 is foki, 129 is sanori, 2876 is nekafoshi, 37492 is tufedaroni, 1,00023 is si-sou, noti, and 4.56*10^56 is dobi-sou, shu-soi. 37598,12621,00000,00001 or 37,598,126,210,000,000,001 in English short scale is 31 syllables, but in this system it's only 13 syllables - tufebaroki-tou, suneshanosi-nou, si. That's less than half as long.
 — apocalyps956, May 14 2007

Damnit. I can't remember what idea I wanted to link to this cartoon, but http://xkcd.com/c257.html
this one is close enough for starters. [normzone, May 15 2007]

Sp: Pronunciation. Pronounced "Pronunciation".
 — MaxwellBuchanan, May 14 2007

 Ingenious. What about noninteger numbers? 3.1415? 0.001? 10^-23? And how do you derive ordinals (first, second, first)? Or fractions (one seventh becomes one fith?).

If it were universally adopted, I can see it being a siderfull invention. I think it's grki.
 — MaxwellBuchanan, May 14 2007

 This has potential. Another option is to use the vowel sounds to represent numbers instead of place values. If you say the words "one", "two", "three", "four", "five", "six", "seven", "eight", "nine", "oh", you see that each word has a different vowel sound (uh, oo, ee, aw, eye, ih, eh, ay, eye, oh) -- there's a conflict between 5 and 9 but you can make one of them into a short 'a' (e.g. pronounce it with a Southern USA accent)

 Then you can pronounce a string of numbers like 264872 as syllables, alternating vowel and consonant sounds.

 Using your consonant rules and my vowels, 264872 would be

 "oo" "sh" "aw" "k" "eh" "n"

 which you would pronounce as

 "Ooshawken".

... of course, now someone needs to invent a spellcheck for numbers.
 — phundug, May 14 2007

 [Maxwell] For decimals, there could be a vowel for zero, so that a group of zeros can be denoted by a syllable. For example ai (long i) could be the digit zero, then ai would be no zeros, sai would be zero, tai would be 00, dai would be 000, etc. The digits after the group of zeros immediately following the decimal point would be said like an integer. So, 12.4 is soni ai di, 0.00001 is dai si, and 1.0101would be si sai sasi. For more than nine zeros immediately following the decimal point, you could use multiple "bai"s with another "-ai" (.00000 00000 01 = bai bai sai si) or add another syllable to bai followed by another "-ai" (.00000 00000 01 = nibai sai si).

For ordinals, just add some other syllable to the end, like "zhoi".
 — apocalyps956, May 14 2007

This is quite impressive, but if it were to be put into general use, someone would need to compare it to existing languages with a similar structure (such as Japanese annd various other Asian and Pacific island languages).
Otherwise, you run the risk of saying something offensive while giving out your phone number.

 There is already a quicker way to pronounce long numbers: you just read the digits. We do this for most long numbers, such as phone numbers. YOu don't give your phone number as "four hundred and fifteen thousand two hundred and six", you say "four one five two oh six".

 For your example (37598...etc), pronouncing it by digits works out at about 22 syllables (three seven five nine eight one two six two one, triple oh triple oh double-oh one), not 31, so I'm not sure there's quite as much of an advantage in your system.

Pronouncing "by digits" also has the advantage that you don't need to check the length of a number before you begin to pronounce it (is it 19 digits or 20?), and the advantage that the same vocabulary works for numbers of any length, including decimals.
 — MaxwellBuchanan, May 14 2007

I stand in awe. [+]
 — pertinax, May 14 2007

[Maxwell] 13 is less than 22. 31 was English short scale. Also, the syllables in my system have only one consonant sound and can be said faster. Sanori can be said faster than one twenty-nine or one two nine.
 — apocalyps956, May 14 2007

[neutrinos] I got 50,000+ results for "sanori" on google and 20,000+ for nibai.
 — apocalyps956, May 15 2007

 Reducing number pronuncuation to vowel and consonant combinations will likely lead to some serious confusions, especially when dealing with other languages.

 This idea may prove awesome, and great for people who all have the same language (and accent) but beyond that, there could be serious problems.

 The International Code of Signals supposedly allows people to communicate via code regadless of what language they actually speak. The rules for radio communication have very specific phonetic terminology to represent the letters of the alphabet, and the numbers. My experience in the Navy shows me that even this is not always good enough. I was stationed on the west coast, so most of our communication was limited to asiatic nations.

 The Letter C is pronounced "Charlie," which often ends up sounding more like cherry, or sometimes Shelrie. The letter G is Golf, which ends up sounding like Horf. The letter J is Juliette, and Japanese forces who operate with spanish speaking nations for any length of time end up pronouncing that as Horiep. The number seven invariably becomes Saipan... and 9 (niner) becomes Nenal. Without the added syallables, I would have been lost.

Indeed, even in "familiar" settings, I can quickly get lost. On a trip to New Orleans I began to wonder whether the people of that good city could pronounce more than two vowel sounds and six consonants. While efficiency is certainly good, I suspect that with regards to numbers, precision is often more useful.
 — ye_river_xiv, May 15 2007

//13 is less than 22// I agree - and I don't dispute the time-saving aspects of your system. My only point was that, if you're arguing for fewer consonants, you should start from "digitwise" pronunciation - otherwise the comparison is not realistic, at least for long numbers.
 — MaxwellBuchanan, May 15 2007

//1,00023 is si-sou, noti// - I didn't get that example - can you explain?
 — hippo, May 15 2007

 The implications for learning this "nameless" number system are large. I want to learn it. I'm going to print this!

It also reminds me of when some of my japanese friends would say 5-4-4. I didn't know what they meant until I translated it into japanese.. it said : go-shi-shi. They said 5-4-4 whenever they needed to do #1 in the bathroom.
 — twitch, May 15 2007

Much quicker and more efficient would be to have a different syllable for every number in existence.
 — theleopard, May 15 2007

How about a whistling system based on frequencies? And since one can hum and whistle independent notes, there is scope for multiplexing.
 — MaxwellBuchanan, May 15 2007

Fantastic. We could sing equations, solve algebraic haiku, stutter out alliterative iterations, construct a poetry of primes, encode love songs in ledgers...
 — sofacrat, May 15 2007

Rodger Whittaker could suddenly become a leading mathematician, and Tuvan throat-singers would be able to solve simultaneous linear equations.
 — MaxwellBuchanan, May 15 2007

[hippo] Si is one, and, because s is one and ou is *10^(n*5), sou is *10^5, or 100,000. No is 20 and ti is 3, so si-sou, noti is one times 100,000, followed by twenty-three.
 — apocalyps956, May 15 2007

 — apocalyps956, May 15 2007

 If you counted from the left instead of the right, it would be easier to place that extra syllable for the 5 digit group - you would group those you had said rather than by those you were going to. Thus one could sing a number as it appeared without having to know how much more would appear, or if in fact an infinite amount more would appear.

Of course, I am thinking of a team of cantors who perpetually sing pi. It would be in shifts.
 — bungston, May 15 2007

 //I am thinking of a team of cantors who perpetually sing pi.//

But would it be as loud as the volume of a sphere?
 — MaxwellBuchanan, May 15 2007

Why would they wear shifts?
 — normzone, May 16 2007

[apocalyps] Right. Thanks. Got it now.
 — hippo, May 16 2007

<darts commentator>Sa and Ko!!!</darts commentator>
 — hippo, May 16 2007

I prefer shifty to shiftless cantors.
 — bungston, May 16 2007

 Fascinating. Brilliant. Why bother? It'd be a radical shift in habit to start using this, and you'd be one of an extremely limited few, like typing on a Dvorak keyboard.

Numeric Esperanto.
 — elhigh, May 21 2007

 Radio communications can often obscure consonants. I would not expect to reliably distinguish "1" and "6" with your method, nor "2" and "3". Some other combinations may be iffy as well.

 The phonetic pronunciations of digits are all unique with no consonants except "R" (which is somewhat vowelish): OH, UH, OOH, EE, ORR, AHY, IH, EHH, EY, AHYIR.

For any alternate phonetic scheme to be useful, I would suggest that vowels and dipthongs be used to represent digits, and consonants used as separators.
 — supercat, May 21 2007

 1245 234 56456 87 564045603 84062 1321 78 402 3132 16 4321.0 64 64 0654 032 8 646 465 0

I think Ella sang that.
 — Cuit_au_Four, May 22 2007

[bungston] Counting from left when grouping the digits could cause some numbers ending in zeros to be pronounced the same as other numbers - 12345,0 would be the same as 12345,00.
 — apocalyps956, May 22 2007

 {Elhigh}, your references made me laugh, and the analogy was spot on.

{+} for this one, since it's a step in a great direction
 — Night, May 22 2007

This reminds me of the "newspeak" from george orwells book 1984. Radical and smart.
 — lurgic2, May 22 2007

Would it not be worth starting with "more efficient word pronunciation"? People use words much more often than numbers, so why not start with those?
 — MaxwellBuchanan, May 22 2007

 Rather than more efficient word pronunciation, I try to use more precise word pronunciation - no one ever asks me if I meant "pin" or "pen" - in the pursuit of more efficient communication, which is what I believe this whole post is about.

 Unfortunately, it also makes me sound like an officious prick, and I tumble down the slippery slope of accomodation.

Seriously, if you were to get even a small following on this, I'd probably join the club. It looks like fun.
 — elhigh, May 23 2007

 Sorry, I really don't get the fascination on this one. Both the problem with particular numbers being the same as existing words and [maxwell]'s point about digits being just as easy (coupled with my constant sense of bemusement) led me to my rather sarcy comment suggesting a different syllable for every number in existence; an idea which to me is as pointless as this one.

 Similarly, when anyone posts an idea for an Universal language, or an easy to learn international communicative tool, everyone bones it to Kingdom come shouting, "Why bother?! No-one would learn it!" "The one we have is easy enough!" etc. etc.

Shirley, should get the same treatment.
 — theleopard, May 23 2007

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