Friday, November 05, 2010

How The Mind Works, Reciting Phone Numbers

Maya is stumped by the peculiar ways Israelis recite their phone numbers.

If  I'm not mistaken, when we first came to Israel, 40 years ago, phone numbers were still four digits, and few people had their own numbers. There were still shared/party lines, and sometimes you'd wait well over a year for the honor. My cousin made aliyah in 1974 and waited seven years for a phone number. We called her by phoning a neighbor.

As numbers were added people made their own "divisions" and ways of reciting the phone number. My husband and I who have been married since two months before our aliyah and have the same house number and even our cellphones are consecutive say them differently.  It confuses me to no end.

When I worked in advertising I was constantly editing in the ads how people wrote phone numbers, trying to unify the divisions.  It amazed/s me that so many Israelis still don't put dashes in the phone numbers.  How can someone relate to/recite/memorize seven or more digits without a break?

I've read that Israelis have one of the highest percentages of cell phones/numbers per person in the world.  There are two reasons for that.  One is the "Jewish mother syndrome:" "Nu, I have to be able to reach you every second of the day/night."  And two is because having a phone is still such a treat for so many people who remember the days when they had to wait a year or more for a number... and then wait again until it was installed.


Anonymous said...

and also because of the army.

Minnesota Mamaleh said...

okay i thought this was fascinating! how did i not know this about phone numbers?!

Batya said...

a, yes, pre-phone in every home etc, call-ups were on the radio in code.
Minne Ma, My perspective is from 41 years of being here, including as a student for a bit.

Hadassa said...

How many times have any of you seen dashes in odd places when Israelis write phone numbers?
I still mentally break many of my friends numbers as 6-846/7-XXX. The 8 was added to all of the 47-XXX numbers before we had a phone installed. Then 846-XXX numbers were added. The "6 prefix" was added later. And then the area code changed from 07 to 08. Is it any wonder we get confused?

Batya said...

With a knowledge of history, it all makes sense.