Pronunciation: 110 (yi 一 / yao 幺)


Senior Member
British Official English
I know 110 is an emergency number in China, but why do they say it as yao yao ling but not yi yi ling? Why did the sound of 一(yi) became yao? Does that only occur when there's double ones in the initial number combination? Are there any more sound changes of other numbers in certain way?
  • jaysings

    just a habitual way to pronounce this word like the way we say O instead of zero in English,so it doesn't really matter whether yi yi ling or yao yao ling.


    So, Hyperpolyglot, you are a native English speaker, right?
    Please tell me when you are talking with somebody by radio or phone in a noisy circumstance, how would you pronounce A, B , C, D etc. alpha, bravo, charlie delta. right?
    And for Chinese, it is similar, especially in military radio communiction, and expanded to the whole china gradually. soldiers come from different regions of China, they have different dialect and accent,i.e. they have different pronouciation principals or habits on one same letter, so for communication convenience, we just say 0 洞 (which you call it o, we call 洞, i guess , 洞 means hole/cave) 1 yao, 2 li'a, 3 san, 4 si, 5 wu, 6 liu, 7 guai, 8 ba, 9 jiu.
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    Senior Member
    Try to say yi1yi1yi1 without a break, you'll find it become yiii... Hard to tell how many yi1 are there.
    I think this could be the reason why people change it to yao1.


    New Member
    In China, we have an alternative way of saying numbers, e.g. 1 (yao), 2 (liang), 3 (san), 4 (si), 5 (wu), 6 (liu), 7 (guai), 8 (ba), 9 (gou), 0 (dong). One explanation is that people easily mistake 1 (yi) for 7 (qi) when talking on the phone. This way of saying numbers is said to be for military use. But it is also used in everyday life. Most people prefer "yao" instead of "yi" when they say phone numbers. In fact, I've never heard people say "yi yi ling".

    There are other occasions when we prefer "yao". Here are some examples for your reference.
    315 (san yao wu) 国际消费者权益日 (World Consumer Rights Day)
    911 (jiu yao yao) 事件 (9/11 Attacks)
    512 (wu yao er) 地震 (512 Sichuan Earthquake)


    Senior Member
    English (UK)
    I agree with lisayee. Number 1 and 7 sound similar in Chinese and to keep them distinct, both of them are given alternative pronunciations.