Submitted by goossun on April 19, 2004

114

I just wonder how does one say this phrase: “Let me know the 411″. Do we say “Let me know the four-one-one” or “Let me know the four-hundred-eleven” or what? Note: I know that 411 is information number, just don’t know how one says it.

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For many years the standard telephone number for the Bell System (local ) information operator was 411. Nationwide information was 555-1212 (there were no other 555 prefix numbers) . When the system changed to allow more number combinations then the number became 1411 which has become the standard (all purpose) information operator call number nationwide. It's generally pronounced "four one one" in this application. Younger people may not be familiar with the older application as this change took place many years ago.

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I'm pretty certain that 411 has nothing to do with server error messages. 411 means that the "content-length" header is required and the client has failed to send it. All the 400 error messages are for cases where the error appears to be on the client side.

I believe speedwell is correct when he says that it comes from a telephone number. As such, it should be pronounced "four one one," but there are certainly examples where people will say "four eleven," just as people will, in certain places, pair up the digits when reading phone numbers, e.g., "seven fifty-three twenty-six oh nine."

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Joe, it's the United States standard phone number you dial to reach Information. 411 = Information. Get it?

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I think it's four-one-one. I'm from the Bay area [[ San Fran-ish ]] and I never thought it was any sort of lingo... but yeh, I've heard it been said before the internet rage, so I'm not quite sure where it originated.

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It's not a phone number. It's an Internet code, similar to the 404 "page not found" error we've all probably seen. to get "the four-one-one" on something is to "get the goop," "get the skinny" on something -- i.e., information.

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It's American slang, but I think it started with the generation younger than mine. Will do on the e-mail.

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Hi speedwell
Do you also say "Let me know the 411" in your erea or it's just NY slang? I got that in an e-mail from a guy who's originally from San Francisco but lives in NYC.
By the way, may I ask you to email me please? It's still about the English but a personal matter.
goossun@yahoo.com

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Just by contrast, some cases in which you MIGHT hear "four eleven:"

- Apartment #411
- April 11 (4/11)
- Code 411 (spoken by a police officer, perhaps)
- 411 as a sequential number (i.e. check number 411)
- 411th St. (if there is such a thing) might be pronounced locally as "Four Eleventh Street" by analogy with "Eleventh Street"

The proper way to pronounce the counting number 411 is "four hundred eleven," of course, rather than "four hundred AND eleven."

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Since it's a telephone number, you say it by "spelling out" the digits. If I was telling you my area code (Houston, TX, 713), I'd say "seven one three." 411 would be pronounced (and is pronounced) "four one one."

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