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The Differences Between Chinese and English Number

By Kant_wyp Dec 21, 2013 1122 Words
The Differences Between Chinese and English Number
(11级英语A班 03号)
Abstract: Because of the differences in the national psychology, religious belief and language habits between east and west,Expressed by the Numbers in Chinese and English cultural connotation and the extension also exist differences, so in the process of the translation should fully consider the popularity and the nationality of itself , and reflected it in the translation faithfully.In the old traditions, digital had not only sacred meaning,but also had the auspiciousness and inauspiciousness of religious superstition color. Different nations has different preference to digital, but all of them have a brand of national culture.

Key words
Chinese and English numbers;connotative meaning;translation;different cultures

1 Introduction

From the first day that man began to study numbers and their significance in every day life, some numbers have been assigned certain characteristics. Some numbers have been thought to be lucky, while others are considered unlucky. And it's not just Western culture that has done this.

2 The number 2

In many Asian cultures, two is good luck. It is thought that good things come in pairs, which is a phrase that even appears in Western culture. It is used often in advertising or on menus in restaurants by saying that a product is doubly effective or it will bring double happiness. In Cantonese, the number two is pronounced much like the word easy, hence it is considered good luck there, as well. There is an emphasis on the number two in Western culture, as well, but not relating to luck.

3 The number 4

This number is bad luck in the far east. The pronunciation of the number four in Japanese is very similar to the word death, and because of this, four has been considered bad luck in Japan, Korea and China. It is considered very bad luck to give a gift that is made up of four pieces to someone. Many buildings in heavily Asian areas do not have a fourth floor, much like the way North American cultures treat the number 13. In Western culture, four isn't necessarily considered lucky or unlucky, however, there are a few unlucky fours. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from the Christian bible, and most swear words are called "four letter words."

4 The number 6&666

Six hundred and sixty-six is an interesting number. It is both extremely bad luck in Western culture but very good luck in many Asian cultures and Chinese culture. As everyone knows, according to the Christian bible, 666 is the number of the beast and is synonymous with Satan. 666 might actually be the most avoided number in Western culture, followed closely by the number 13. But in cultures in Asia, the pronunciation of 666 sounds very much like the phrase, "things going smoothly," and it is considered to be very lucky. Many shopkeepers will place a sign or plaque with 666 written or carved on it in their window as a good luck charm. The same goes for the front door of a home or apartment. In Western culture, 666 has appeared millions of times, almost universally in a bad connotation.

5 The number 7

Everyone knows that 7 is lucky. But why? The root of most lucky numbers can be found in religion. God, for instance, is said to have created the world in 7 days. There are also several references to seven in other places in the bible, like the length of festivals and the arrangement of the Sabbath. Seven also comes up repeatedly in ancient history. Until the 1800's, there were seven known planets in the solar system, mathematician Pythagoreans considered seven to be the perfect number and as any craps player can tell you, seven is the most desirable role on the dice. In most major instances, seven is a lucky number from culture to culture. Seven is even the usual number of spots on a ladybug. Lady bugs are considered good luck in their own right.

6 The number 8

Maybe no culture in the world is more fascinated with lucky numbers than the Chinese. In many far eastern cultures, 8 is considered a lucky number to the point of obsession. A recent news article reported that the phone number 8888-8888 was sold for over $200,000 in China recently because it was thought that it would bring luck. In Cantonese, the pronunciation of the number eight is similar to the phrase "good luck."

7 The number 13

The most unlucky number in Western culture has become so commonplace that an actual sickness called triskaidekaphobia; the fear of the number 13. You would be hard pressed to find a building with a 13th floor in North America. The origin of this superstition is mainly unknown. In the famous painting of Jesus at the Last Supper, the 13th person at the table, reading left to right, was Judas, who betrayed Jesus. Others believe it is because of the tie-in with 13 and the lunar cycle. 13 is the exact number of full moons in a calendar year, and since people have thought that the moon controls emotion and makes people a bit crazy, then 13 is bad luck. In many Persian cultures, 13 is unlucky as well, showing that this superstition crosses cultural borders. And of course, Friday the 13th is considered very bad luck. It originates from the massacre of the Knight's Templar on that date in 1307. 8 Conclusions

At my personal level,In the process of finding out information, I have learned that every language in the world are rooted in a specific cultural background, reflect the specific cultural content.Digital has grown up with the emergence and development of human civilization.When the human mind run to a certain stage, in order to adapt to the needs of social production activities,people created numbers.Numbers are reflecting the objective material world scale; the size of number and amount. There are differences in each language cultural tradition, thinking concept, and perception of digital orientation, so people give Numbers also different social and cultural connotation. 

These examples are just a miniature of Chinese and western cultural differences, through the study of these Numbers’ different meanings, can help us understand western culture better.This is the purpose of this course--Intercultural Business Communication,we can communicate better with the west without comedy tends.To understand the similarities and differences between Chinese and Western Number culture will help us in foreign exchange,mutual respect,reduce misunderstanding and friction,so as to achieve the purpose of communication.  


[1] 周志培.汉英对比与翻译中的转换[M].上海:华东理工大学出版社,2003 [2] 周志培.汉英对比与翻译中的转换[M].上海:华东理工大学出版社,2003 [3] 明安云.英汉数字的文化差异[J].湖北大学学社,2002 [4]Zhou Can. Chinese and Western Number Contrast [A]. Internet, 2010. [5}Numbers in Chinese culture,From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.,2013-12-9

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