Anyone involved in a business surely has numbers on the brain. Revenue, Expenses and Profit, all-important numbers to consider, but what if there was another aspect to numbers a businessperson had to worry about. What if you had to be concerned whether the numbers were good luck, bad luck or even insulting?
Should you take the dive and try to court Chinese customers, best to be aware of certain numbers. Sure, some Westerners do not groove on the number 13, but the Chinese take this to a whole other level. The following is a sample.
The Number 4
Any number made up of many 4s or ending in 4s is NOT considered a good number, but an unlucky number.
“4” (四, sì) sounds a good deal like “Death” (死, sǐ).
Not uncommon for many apartment and office buildings in China to not have 4th or 14th floors, many avoid license plates ending in 4, especially in Beijing, where each weekday two final digits are banned from driving within the 5th Ring Road. Traffic is considerably heavier on days when 4 and 9 are the restricted plates.
The Number 6
“6” (liù, 六) sounds like “flowing” or “smooth,” (流, liú).
The Number 8
Any number ending in 8 or made up of many 8s is highly attractive. As with almost every example, Homophonic Resemblances is at the root.
“8” (bā, 八) and the word fā, meaning prosper are very similar
-more so in some dialects than others.
The Number 38
38 (三八, sānbā) to mean silly or ditzy
– 3/8 refers to March 8, International Women’s Day.
The Number 250
Avoid the number 250. Unless you intentionally want to call someone a “dumbass”. In ancient China, a favoured Prime Minister of the emperor was assassinated. Furious, The emperor sent the word out he wanted to “hire” the assassin and offered him 1000 gold pieces for his appearance. Four individuals took the emperor’s offer; he proceeded to provide each with 250 pieces of Gold. The story does not end there, the emperor also removed each man’s head.
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