Chinese numerals

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Chinese numerals


Chinese numerals The Arabic numeral system used today in China was introduced to China by the Europeans in the early 17th century. But the Chinese character-based number systems are still in use. The financial numerals are used only when writing an amount on a form for remitting money at a bank. They function as anti-fraud numerals.

The character 零 (zero) appeared very early in ancient Chinese writing. However, at that time, it did not mean "nothing", but "bits and pieces", "not much". 一百零五(105) means in Chinese: In addition to a hundred, there is a fraction of five. With the introduction of the Arabic numerals, 105 is exactly pronounced “one hundred zero five”, the character 零 corresponds exactly to the symbol 0. Thus, the character 零has the meaning of 0. But the character 〇 was one of the Chinese characters created and promulgated by the only empress (with greater achievements than countless emperors) in the history of China in 690 AD (much later than the invention of 0 in India) for the purpose of demonstrating her power. At that time the character 〇 meant “star”, representing a round planet. It is now used as a synonym for the 零 (zero).

Communicated by Zhang Feiyuan 2020-07-21

Chinese numerals

Arabic Normal Chinese Financial Chinese
小寫小写 大寫大写
2 貳/贰
3 參/叁
6 陸/陆
104 萬/万
108 億/亿
1012 兆 (Taiwan)
1012 萬億/万亿 (Mainland China)

In my opinion, the Normal Chinese characters may not be used by non-Mandarin speaking Chinese since this requires the knowledge of the Chinese language. However, these Chinese characters or Chinese character-based numerals are shared with countries influenced by the Chinese culture in the past, e.g. Japan, Korea, Vietnam. So non-Chinese speakers in certain countries use the Chinese character-based numerical system, too. But they pronounce them differently.