Monday, August 20, 2007

Numb3rs, hand gestures and meanings

These are Chinese number gestures. Nothing odd or strange happens from 1-5, easy to guess what is going on. Little tricks start happening from 6-10 and, trust me, there is a logic in it (written language simulation). The reason why use one hand gestures for numbers resides with beginnings for the trade in China, the lowest profession of all - as considered at that time. Traders were regarded as unstable, they usually had to travel a lot and therefore couldn't take care of family at home. Hence, the trade was conducted somewhat secretly, using long and wide sleeves of their robes to hide hands that were working to negotiate the price. Here are numbers from 6-10:

Additionally 10 can also be expressed as:

Depending on the negotiation scale one hand gesture, let's say for 7, could mean 7, 70 or 700. If 7 was followed by 2 it would mean 720 or 7200 etc.

These gestures are still used in daily life.

Meanings of numbers are often related to the words that sound similar as their numeral value except for 1 and 2.

One (yi), means unity
Two (er) is related to 'double' meaning that all good things come in pairs (double happiness)
Three (san), means to disperse, release
Four (si), sounds like word for death and is therefore unlucky number. Often buildings would not have fourth floor, people would avoid having number four in their phone number or even apartments with number four would be of a cheaper value than same size apartment with number 8, for example. Some believe that two numbers 4 would mean cancellation of the meaning death and then it would be regarded as a lucky number
Five (wu), can mean me, self or nothing. Nothing in this case can have a positive meaning, related to the daoist concept wu wei (non action)
Six (liu), smooth, constant, to flow. 66 or 666 is considered to be a lucky number since it means 'all goes smoothly'
Seven (qi) to raise, elevate, together
Eight (ba), sounds similar to character that means to prosper (fa) and is hence the luckiest number. Olympics in Beijing are scheduled to start on 08.08.2008. at 8:08:08p.m. Telephone number 8888-8888 was sold for $270,723 in Chengdu, China.
Nine (jiu), longevity or long lasting

Even nowadays, when bargaining for a price, many wouldn't accept price of 250rmb because the meaning is double nothing, while 260 can mean double flow (of income) and is therefore much more acceptable.

Have fun while negotiating!

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