THE CAUSE FOR THE LOWLY ZERO

Mike - Bolivia, North Carolina
Entered on November 13, 2007
Age Group: 65+

From our earliest introduction to education we were taught that the letter O is oh and the

numerical zero is 0.Some of us were taught by rote that 1×0=zero and 2×0=zero etc. We were

also taught that oh is a letter, a word and a sound as in O, oh no and oh. As we welcome our

immigrants and encourage them to take English as a second language we continue to teach these

fundamentals and drill them into our new American citizens.

Despite all our early learning my ears continue to pick up car advertisers blaring out “come and

see our new “oh 7” Toyotas or our new “oh 7” Hondas”. In the supposedly more intelligent

setting of CNN, ABC and NBC I hear the anchor people talk about Obama in “oh 8” and Hilary

in “oh 8”. Can you see the intrusion of the oh into the province of the zero? Since Jerry Seinfeld

hasn’t picked up the cause I have decided to jump in.

There is no denying we are in the digital age. If anyone doubts it, let he or she use an oh instead

of a zero when trying to register your car, making an on line purchase with a credit card or typing

an email address. If you do make a purchase on line and substitute an oh for zero the

computer screen is going to reject you very quickly. In spite of all these constant reminders that

you shouldn’t substitute oh for zero; a day doesn’t go by that you don’t come across that

intrusive oh trying to gain more and more ground. Even the bastions of the digital age, the

drivers of the information highway who led us into the 21st century-Verizon and AT &T have

succumbed to the lazy oh phenomenon. Call up information for a telephone number and beware

if it has a zero because most of those operators are going to tell you the number is 949-136oh.

Our poor immigrant friends are going to dial that number and get a wrong number. The second

time they are going to dial it and get an earful of rudeness from the other end. When they realize

their error they are going to sigh and say, oh, not zero, but oh. See how zero doesn’t intrude into

the province of oh.

In the classic movie “Going My Way”, Bing Crosby tells the departing pastor to dial oh for

O’Malley if he ever gets in trouble and in those days it would have worked. In the early days of

party line telephones, an oh would work because many of the exchanges were letters. My own

exchange in Jersey City was Oldfield. Our phone number was OL- 8-2158 so you would dial the

oh and ell as a number. Perhaps our current ineptitude in this area is an outgrowth of the old

letter exchanges, but that was over 40 years ago, folks. Certainly our learning curve is higher

than that. Also, we have had thousands of other quaint customs and practices which we outgrew

and changed why does the oh persist and continue to infringe into the property of the zero.

Once my campaign for fairness and correctness takes steam this matter will be settled. However,

if it is met with opposition I have plans to meet intrusion with intrusion. How will people like

Jell-zero or Bing-zero. What about “Zero ye of little faith” or “zero brother”. People will stop

and think twice, in fact they may be confused whether to say oh, boy there he goes again or “zero

boy”, there he goes again. Some people will say this is much ado about nothing but not this

crusader. The slogan of the campaign will be “zero tolerance”. The zero has to stand tall and

defend itself or it will remain just a “zero”.

In the year 2010 there will be a frenzy to sell off the remaining “oh 9’s” and for several years

after there will be great deals on dealer certified “oh 7’s”, “oh 8’”s and “oh 9’s” but finally we

will reach a point where the abuse of the oh for autos advertising will diminish. I checked some

archives to see if this arrogance of the oh existing during the early 1900’s. As expected there

wasn’t any auto advertising or any references to zero that were supplanted by an oh. So it is a

more recent phenomenon which is surprising in the current digital age. Nevertheless, I vow to

continue the fight to right this wrong and hope all my efforts aren’t for nil.