What Is „9 ➫ wXyz“?

9 ➫ wXyz“ (9toX) finds words in telephone numbers.

The keys on the keypad of a cell phone can be used to feed either digits or letters. For example, using the key labelled 2, you can enter the digit 2. But you can also enter the letters A, B, or C. This is how you would write SMS texts. International standard ITU-T E.161 says which letters are associated with a digit key.

Given a phone number, this connection of digits and dial letters facilitates the construction of a multitude of “words”. Suppose a phone number has the digit 2 in it. In place of 2 you can also pick one of the letters A, B, or C. The digit3 becomes on of the letters D, E, or F. Thus rewriting 56 63 663 gives the word LONDON3, among others. You may have seen “numbers” such as this as part of an advert. They are easy to remember, that is, mnemonic.

While each number holds lots of combinations of letters, only few of the combinations are inspiring. (JNMFMNF is another combination in 5663663.) This is why „9 ➫ wXyz“ performs dictionary lookup and shows only the combinations that it finds in its dictionaries.

The idea of searching numbers for words is not new. You can even buy catchy „telephone words“. If you search the web for vanity number or for phone spelling you should find some offers in a number of languages.

9 ➫ wXyz“ can examine fairly long numbers exhaustively. The numbers may be anything, taken from number plates, ZIP codes, ISBNs, a birthday, and so on.

Why Are There Repetitions?

You may have seen the same suggestion displayed on more than one result list. Or it looks as if the results change only after a number of clicks. Appearances are deceiving. There are technical reasons for this. „9 ➫ wXyz“ is set up to examine longer numbers (where longer means more than 10 digits), as follows.

When a combination of letters cannot be found in the dictionaries, we show the digits instead. If another combination is later made from the same digits and the combination is again not found, you might be seeing the same result once more, even though the digits stand for other letters (not found) this time. There is some bookkeeping between clicks on More to prevent some repetition.

In order to prevent repetition entirely, our program would have to perform comprehensive bookkeeping. Without it there is no complete knowledge of previous findings. Performing bookkeeping has technical implications and we must weigh them: The digits of a longer number generate lots of combinations of letters. A 12-digit number such as 2345 3456 4567 will produce 708_588 different words, each word having 12 characters. The words can be split into syllables in 2048 different ways each. This yields a (gross) total of 1_451_188_224 candidate suggestions offered for a single 12-digit number. „9 ➫ wXyz“ has ways to reduce the amount of data. Still, total bookkeeping would consume considerable resources and that is what we have to weigh… There just are not enough CPU cycles and storage at this time ☺.

Therefore, „9 ➫ wXyz“ may repeat some suggestions. The good news is that this allows us to offer reasonable response times even for longer numbers and exhaustive search. The Hints section explains how to adjust your search.

Some Hints

☞ redundance ☜

Leave out digits you do not need. Some European cell phone numbers typically start with 01. But neither 0 nor 1 is associated with a letter. „9 ➫ wXyz“ takes this into consideration. But the program is “open minded” as to which words make sense and retains rather a lot of combinations. Also, you can run „9 ➫ wXyz“ as a Do It Yourself Kit by splitting long input numbers in two, for example, and have either one analyzed separately. More generally, have 9toX analyze any portion of the input number that you find particularly interesting.

☞ better ☜

Results will be better if you click on „Lots More“. Running the program will take a little longer, though.

☞ quick ☜

Clicking on „More“ will yield quick responses. However, you will more likely see some suggestions more than once, as explained in the section on repetitions.

9 ➫ wXyz“ auto-adjusts to language preferences set for your browser software. If you want it to look up words in German dictionaries, make de the preferred language.


On telephone numbers and dials: A short history of telephone numbers

9toX Contact/Privacy• © 2008 Future Apps GmbH •About/Help