Sorry, but some numbers just don't have good mnemonics. PhoneSpell is purposely limited to finding mnemonics based on the proper spelling of ordinary English words. Unfortunately around 3% of innocent looking phone numbers do not have any such words in them and an even bigger fraction have only tiny words like "a" or "of" which do not form memorable mnemonics. There is not much we can do about that. For a better example of how PhoneSpell works, try the number 568-3569.
The word list PhoneSpell uses was edited with the goal of being comprehensive enough that PhoneSpell would be able to generate at least one good mnemonic for nearly all phone numbers while at the same time being selective enough to avoid generating mnemonics that use such obscure or confusing words that they really do not help anyone remember the number. To that end, we only use common English words and have left out (with a few exceptions) slang, jargon, abbreviations, and most proper nouns (i.e. names).
At present, PhoneSpell includes names of days and months, about 50 names chosen because they were especially helpful in creating mnemonics, and the 500 most common first names for babies born in the U.S. in 1998. (Michael and Emily were the most popular that year.) The name list and rankings came straight from the US Social Security Administration and they consider every spelling of a name to be a completely separate name, e.g. Michelle and Michele are treated as 2 different names. That works fine for PhoneSpell, but if you are really interested in names, you'd probably prefer to see the interpreted list at BabyZone where they combine Michelle and Michele back together.
Originally PhoneSpell's word list contained a very comprehensive, international list of names, but that proved too confusing: many non-English names are difficult for English speakers to remember, and the whole point of the service is to make something memorable. What's more, there were so many names that they often dominated the results, making the truly memorable possibilities easy to miss in the crowd.
We would like to include famous place-names in our database, but we don't know where to find such a list. As with the first names, we want to avoid having too many unusual names, so we need some way to keep the list size down to the most famous few hundred. Please let us know if you know of a list we could use.
Most likely your mnemonic contains a word, name, or abbreviation that PhoneSpell does not have in its word list (See above). The other possibility is that your mnemonic does not pass PhoneSpell's minimum standards for a mnemonic and is therefore filtered out.
The Bell Telephone standard mapping for digits to letters originally was:
Bell Telephone number-to-letter mapping:
Now this made a lot of sense to Bell Telephone (it is a very long story) but has some obvious problems for those of us trying to get the best mapping of phone numbers to words. The most obvious problem is that 1 and 0 both have no letters associated with them, so any number with 1 or 0 cannot be represented with letters. The other big problem is that the letters Q and Z do not have digits associated with them, so words with Q or Z cannot be represented with numbers.
The good news is that these problems are easily solved by changing the mapping of digits to letters; the bad news is that there is no agreement on what the new mapping should be. Some keypads just add Q to 7 and Z to 9 and leave it at that. Some put Q and Z on 0. Some start all over and put ABC on 1 and end up with XYZ on 9. Still, the vast majority of keypads stick to the Bell original. PhoneSpell uses the slightly modified keypad with Q on 7 and Z on 9.
PhoneSpell number-to-letter mapping:
In addition to mnemonics with the same number of digits you entered, we also provide mnemonics with one extra digit at the end, for a couple of reasons. First, they still work: if you were to dial the extra digit at the end you would still be connected to the right number. Second, some phone numbers have very few mnemonic possibilities, and allowing a random final digit can open up a lot more options. We have separated out the extra digit memonics from the exact ones so you can easily choose whether or not to take advantage of this feature.
PhoneSpell does not give phonetic or "license plate" mnemonics for phone numbers because we believe they are too hard to decipher once you have memorized them. For example, is "fort" 48 (4-T), 3088 (F-0-RT), or 3688 (FORT)?. It is just too confusing.
The unrestricted search (all possible combinations) produces too much garbage for PhoneSpell's limited bandwidth, besides which it is not very useful. For a 7-digit number there are ususally 2,187 combinations to wade through, for a 10-digit number, 59,049. Do you really want to comb through all that? (If you do, there are lots of other resources available to generate such a list since that is so easy.) PhoneSpell does the hard work of filtering out the combinations that do not have words in them so you do not have to.
No. There are too many issues with translating PhoneSpell into a foreign language. First, most other languages have letters or diacritical marks that do not appear on the phone keypad. Many countries do not even have letters on their telephone keypads, so it would seem to be of little use to people there. Then there is the issue of editing a word list in that language, something that requires a native's familiarity with which words are common and which are not (not to mention the issue of regional variances). We would also want to translate all of PhoneSpell's web pages into the new language. All that would require resources PhoneSpell does not have.