Cultural meaning of numbers in Chinese


It looks like many of the numbers from 1-10 have special cultural meanings in Chinese and Chinese people associate them by pronunciation as there are many homophones which are the same pronunciation but with a different meaning. Here follow some examples:

The number 2 èr is a good number in Chinese culture and Chinese people prefer even numbers than odd ones. There is a Chinese saying: “good things come in pairs好事成双hǎo shì chéng shuāng “.

The word for “8” (八 bā) sounds similar to the word which means “fortune” (fā) in some dialects. Any numbers related to 8 can be sold with a high price in China such as telephone, car plate etc.

9 (九 jiŭ) shares the same pronunciation with eternity 久 . Thus 9 or 99 roses is a good way to show one’s love to a Chinese.

Number 4 (四sì) is considered a bad number in Chinese because it is nearly homophonous to the word “death” (死 sǐ).

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