*** Alexander Weir – 2011 – All Rights Reserved ***
Using standard number codes for language translation and interpretation
Many people globally are numerate but not literate, i.e. they can read and write numbers, speak their language (and maybe even several others), but they cannot read or write any language.
One of the effects of that is that they cannot use sms to reduce telecommunications costs. As instant messenger use on mobile phones becomes more available and prevalent, then the cost savings are huge but non-literate people will be left out
Moreover, few people know more than one language, and have problems when travelling, holidaying or working in foreign countries.
There is a solution to both these problems – adopt internationally a set of number codes for common communications. These can be based on basic tourist and business needs, and also on simple day-to-day communication (a recent study in UK showed that an average daily vocabulary for many people was only 100 words).
One can even use the numbers to illustrate degree of something – e.g. time (past and future), temperature, speed. Such an idea is included in the listings below:
1. How are you?
2. I am fine thank you, and how are you?
3. Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, good night
4. Please can I have menu item number ………, ……., …….
5. Please can I have water, tea, coffee, soft drink, bread?
6. It is very cold, slightly cold, ok temperature, warm, hot, too hot
7. A very long time ago, some years ago, some months ago, some weeks ago, some days ago, yesterday, today, some hours ago, some minutes ago, now, in a few minutes, in some hours, tomorrow morning, tomorrow afternoon, tomorrow evening etc
8. At the time ………
9. This is very very bad, very bad, bad, not very good, slightly good, very good, exceptionally good
10. Please help me
11. Do you need help?
12. I have been robbed
13. I need the police
14. Danger is coming/ danger is near
15. We must leave quickly / we must run
16. We must hide
17. I am hungry
18. I am thirsty
19. I have no money
20. Please I need to use the toilet
21. Please I need to wash
22. Please I need to bath or shower
23. Please do you have a towel?
24. Please I need to charge my phone
25. Please I need to wash some clothes
26. Please where are the shops?
27. Please where is the cybercafe?
28. Please where is the supermarket?
29. Please what is happening?
30. Please where can I hide
31. They are shooting
32. They are using tear gas/ rubber bullets/ live rounds
33. Danger is coming from that direction ………..
34. I need to speak to a lawyer
35. I need to contact my family/ friends
36. Have you seen this person?
37. I am worried about ……..
38. I am arriving today at ……….
39. Do you know where …… is?
40. …… is not answering his/her phone/ email/ instant messenger/ sms
41. I feel faint
42. I feel sick
43. I am ill, please help me
44. I need a doctor urgently
45. Please take me to a hospital
46. I am having a baby
47. I am pregnant
48. I am bleeding
49. I have been shot
50. I have been knifed
51. I have pain
52. Please give me aspirin/ paracetamol/ pain-killer
53. I have pain in head/ back/ groin/ stomach/ leg/ knee/ foot/ arm/ hand/ neck/ chest etc
54. I have diarrhoeia
55. Please give me ORT (oral rehydration therapy)
56. I am arriving today at the location…… at time ……. Please collect me
57. Locations: train station, bus station, town centre, main road, village name:….., airport name…..
58. I am going to ……… Please tell me where to get off this transport
59. Please I need to get money from you, amount ……..
60. Please I need to borrow money from you, amount ……
61. Please send me airtime
62. Please send me airtime, value …… if possible
63. There is a medical emergency
64. There is an emergency – please come to our house immediately
65. Someone has been arrested – please go to the police station to help
66. Please come to our house immediately urgently
67. Please come to our house as soon as possible
68. Please come to our house today if possible
69. We need to meet to discuss something
70. We need to meet to discuss something very important
71. We need to meet very quickly as soon as possible
72. Please I need you to repay the money, amount……
73. Please can you pay me for the work I have done? Amount……
74. Please can you pay …… in advance and …… on completion?
75. What is your phone number?
76. My phone number is ………
77. I need somewhere to stay
78. Please can I stay at your place tonight only?
79. I need a job
80. I need some work
81. I am plumber, carpenter, hairdresser, builder, electrician, doctor, nurse, handyman, repair phones, repair electrical equipment, fix punctures, repair cars, do welding, herd cattle, agricultural worker, gardener, housemaid, lawyer, engineer, architect, politician, computer guy, software guy, driver, labourer, office worker, policeman, soldier, security guy, salesperson, shop assistant, manager, owner.
82. When does the transport leave?
83. Why is there a delay?
84. How long will the delay last?
85. You have too much baggage and must pay ……
86. You have too much baggage and must leave some behind
87. How much does it cost?
88. How long will it take?
89. I wish to pay less – …….
90. I don’t have change
91. Do you have change
92. That piece or item is too big – do you have smaller
93. That item is too expensive – do you have cheaper?
94. That item is too cheap – do you have more expensive?
95. You have drunk too much, I am sorry but I cannot serve you any more
96. Please leave the premises
97. Would you like to dance?
98. Would you like a drink?
99. Would you like to eat?
100. Yes, no, maybe, maybe later, definitely later, later at …….., later tomorrow, later on day of week …….
101. Can you swim?
102. Do you want to come to my place?
103. I would like to come to your place
104. Days of week 1=Sunday, 2=money ….7=Saturday?
105. Date as per 20110630
106. Date and time as per 20110630-1530
107. We will make a decision later today/ tomorrow, in a few days, in ……days
108. We like your product or service and also the price
109. We like your product or service but the price is too high
110. We like your product or service but the price is too high by …… %
111. Your delivery time is too long – we prefer ……days
112. Can we do the job in ……. Days?
113. Can we start the job on date ………………?
114. The quality of your product or service is almost enough but we need some improvement
115. Sorry we cannot do business on this occasion.
116. The main reason is price, quality, reliability, lack of trust, too much risk, lack of scale, too much competition, etc..
117. Can we meet for lunch?
118. Can we meet for discussion?
119. Can we meet for coffee?
120. Can we meet for beer?
121. Can you come for dinner at my home?
122. Can we meet for dinner in restaurant?
123. Can you come to my office?
124. Can I come to your office?
125. Can you please reply to my email or letter?
126. Can you please reply to my email or letter dated ………….
127. You are fired
128. The contract is terminated
129. The contract is terminated immediately
130. I will pay you the outstanding money of ……..
131. You owe me money of …………………..
132. I disagree on this – ……………..
133. I agree on this ………..
134. I agree partly on ………………
135. I disagree partly on …………………
136. If you do this………. Then I will do that ………………
137. How far is it to get there? ……. km
138. How long will it take to get there? …….. minutes
139. Do I use taxi/ bus/ train/ underground/ car/ rickshaw/ bicycle/ walk/ etc?
140. We will send you a travel ticket
141. We will reimburse you up to US$ ……. For your expenses
142. We will pay for your hotel and will book your hotel
143. This is not important/ important/ very important/ of the highest importance
144. We don’t like foreigners
145. Go away
146. Get out of our town
147. We come in peace
148. Don’t shoot
149. Please don’t shoot
150. We bring civilization (joke)
151. We bring Pax Americana (joke)
152. We are innocent
153. We didn’t do anything wrong
154. Please don’t beat us
155. Do you have lifebelts for everyone on this ferry?
156. I am a journalist
157. I do not work for CIA/MI6, Mossad, FSB, BOSS, CIO etc..
158. I work for CIA/MI6, Mossad, FSB, BOSS, CIO etc..
159. Foreign Intelligence Services are chasing me with evil intent
OK – enough examples. The advantages of such a system?
1. More ordinary people (i.e. non-linguists) will be able to communicate with foreigners effectively.
2. Instant messenger and sms can be used more as a substitute for voice communication, thereby extending the capacity of cellular networks and reducing cost and also extending message communication capability to non-literate people (they made need the numbers on a printed sheet (laminated?) with symbols as well as words to explain)
Some other considerations:
1. The basic stuff should be short – maybe 01 through 99 for common and/or urgent stuff, 101 through 999 for the rest.
2. Be careful about trying to group things and being hierarchical – almost certainly you will run out of space and your dream of an ideal hierarchy will fail or have to be trashed.
3. When using numbers with a suffix to indicate degree (negative or positive) think carefully about whether 0-9 will be enough of whether 00 thru 99 will have to be used. 0-9 will (obviously) be a much more usable system.
4. Note that groups may choose to use their own code system which overrides or which sits as extensions to the normal international system. E.g. a football team may use number codes to indicate an impending move to their own team players, without the opposition knowing what they mean. They may even change those codes during the game, for example at half-time. A group of protestors may have their own (temporary and changing) codes for Twitter to indicate a move which they do not wish the authorities to know about. For the latter, they may prefix the number code with a letter, e.g. X120 may mean everyone disperse and make your way to safety. X121 may mean assemble and advance to the Main Target Building. Etc.
I welcome feedback on the idea and also additional content – thanks!
Alex Weir, Gaborone, Botswana, 30 June 2011
*** Alexander Weir – 2011 – All Rights Reserved ***