Suzhou numerals (苏州码子)

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yuechu

Senior Member
Canada, English
Hello everyone,

I was reading about Suzhou numerals/苏州码子 recently http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzhou_numerals and find them quite interesting as I didn't know that a writing system for numbers native to Chinese was used in the Sinosphere besides the 一二三四五 etc that we are all familiar with. Personally, I never saw these while I was in Hong Kong/Chongqing/Beijing/Shenyang, etc. (yet I was not in China for very long either), but it looks like it is used in some markets (perhaps just not the 菜市场 I used to go to.. )
Do most Chinese nowadays know how to write them? Do you ever see them where you are? (for those who are in Chinese-speaking/"-writing" countries, perhaps Korea/Japan as well.. ?)

Thanks/谢谢!
 
  • Lucia_zwl

    Senior Member
    Chinese (Mandarin)
    Hi Baosheng,

    The first and the only time I came across this numeral system was in the TV series Sherlock (2010), season 1 episode 2.:D In that story, these numbers are used as code, and Sherlock and Watson find them in Chinatown in London. Well, that's the fiction, and I've never seen people use these numbers nowadays.
     

    Ghabi

    Senior Member
    Cantonese
    ^I faintly remember that they call the numerals "a Chinese dialect" in that soporific episode.:(

    In Hong Kong, one can still see the use of the numerals in some very old eateries, but yes they're quite rare nowadays.
     

    维尼爱蜂蜜

    Member
    chinese
    I saw them once in a diner in Tsim Sha Tsui. I believe it's still in use in some low-end businesses in Hong Kong, but very rarely in mainland. We've lost lots of traditional stuff.
     

    yuechu

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    Thank you all for your replies! So it looks like it is still in use (albeit rare) in Hong Kong (and in Sherlock Holmes!). I'll have to keep an eye out for it next time I'm over there... has anyone seen it in use anywhere else? (perhaps Taiwan/Singapore as well?)
     

    xiaolijie

    Senior Member
    UK
    English (UK)
    Do most Chinese nowadays know how to write them? Do you ever see them where you are? (for those who are in Chinese-speaking/"-writing" countries, perhaps Korea/Japan as well.. ?)
    I don't think these Suzhou numerals were adopted anywhere outside China.
     
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