“Nine-one-one” and “Nine-eleven”
Posted: 30 July 2007 10:27 AM   [ Ignore ]
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If you’re referring to the September 11 incident, it’s my impression that everyone pronounces it “Nine-eleven”, since the day was “eleven”. But if you’re calling for an ambulance or fire truck or police in the U.S., it’s my impression that everyone now pronounces it “Nine-one-one”. My recollection is that people used to say “nine-eleven” for the emergency number, but that that pronunciation has declined, perhaps because of confusion with the “nine-eleven” incident. Am I incorrect? I don’t listen to radio or television, so my sample is restricted.

Edited to clarify question.

[ Edited: 30 July 2007 10:47 AM by westover ]
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Posted: 30 July 2007 10:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Phrasing the emergency number as “nine-eleven” is discouraged because children, or even adults in a panic, may waste valuable time looking for the “eleven” button.

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Posted: 30 July 2007 11:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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It’s pretty much always been 9-1-1.  I’d give you some media references if you were into media (though 1986’s “Down and Out in Beverly Hills” pops into mind instantly - the part where Bette Midler runs around the pool shouting Call 9-1-1! Call 9-1-1!… was featured in the commercials).
In general, other than even hundreds and thousands (e.g. 1-800 is one eight hundred, and Pennsylvania six five thousand), most people almost always say the individual numbers in phone numbers.  If you watched American Idol (which I realize you didn’t), you would have heard Ryan Seacrest say “Remember these are eight-six-six numbers, not eight-hundred numbers.” many times.

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Posted: 30 July 2007 02:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Of course to us Rightpondians, 9/11 is the 9th of November.  I have to think twice if I want to realise the event happened on the 11th of September.  Our bombers struck on the 7th of July, avoiding any such confusion.

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Posted: 31 July 2007 02:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Speaking as a non-American, who’s seen American telly and films, I’ve only ever heard the phone number referred to as 9-1-1 and the date as nine eleven.

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Posted: 31 July 2007 09:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I’ve heard the date referred to as 9-1-1 by Americans, but not lately. It had some currency shortly after the date, but faded in favor of “nine-eleven.”

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Posted: 31 July 2007 11:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I seem to remember that at the time some broadcasters observed that the 9-11 date was either planned or coincidental to the 9-1-1 emergency number due to the fact it was the greatest emergency on American soil ever.

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Posted: 03 August 2007 11:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Broadcasters, or just random loonies in the bar down the street?

In any event, I’m quite sure the telephone number was always nine-one-one.  (And I’d be very surprised if Osama Bin Laden had never heard of it.)

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Posted: 04 August 2007 06:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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The date of the attack was selected by Mohammed Atta, not Bin Laden. The 9-11 Commission Report has this to say about the selection of the date on page 248:

When Binalshibh persisted, Atta agreed to include the White House but suggested they keep the Capitol as an alternate target in case the White House proved too difficult. Atta also suggested that the attacks would not happen until after the first week in September, when Congress reconvened.

So the fact that Congress was in session was a major factor in the date selected.

The 9-11 Commission Report also says this on page 249:

According to Binalshibh, Atta used a riddle to convey the date in code—a message of two branches, a slash, and a lollipop (to non-Americans, 11/9 would be interpreted as September 11). Binalshibh says he called Atta back to confirm the date before passing it to KSM [Khalid Sheik Mohammed].

So it seems likely that even though Atta presumably was aware that 9-1-1 was the emergency number in the US (he had spent some months in the US), he probably did not connect it with the date due to the different style of notation.

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