textual ambiguity

I don't have one of those fancy texting phones the kids have, where the thing springs open like a Transformer and suddenly there's a whole typewriter keyboard. On my phone, all texting must be accomplished with just the usual 12 buttons of a touch-tone phone. Each of the number keys (except 1 and 0) has three (sometimes four) different letters on it. But the clever part is, you just start typing on these keys and the phone guesses what you're spelling before you've even finished the word.

And most of the time it does this brilliantly. When you think about it, 8 keys should be plenty. Within five keystrokes you have 8x8x8x8x8 -- over 32,000 combinations, which is more words than most people use. So, like I said, most of the time it easily guesses what you're going for well before you finish the word. But there are those few, fascinating gray areas...

The most annoying of these is OF/ME. Both are words that you need all the time. Unfortunately, they are both spelled as "63" on my phone. I once got a text from Cara (whose phone works the same way) that said, "Do you even case about of?" It took me a little while to figure out. Some of the other pairs that I've found are:


I like it when there's kind of a connection between the two words. Also interesting are the ones where a finished word could still turn into a totally different word if you added more letters:

SCENES can lead to SADNESS

And finally there's a type of word where the outcome hangs in the balance. F'rinstance, if I type "466672," the phone gives me two choices. If I add a"5" it's IMMORAL; if I add a "2" it's HONORABLE. Such a tiny difference between the two!

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