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Old 11th May 2007, 07:31 PM
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Re: "Death of the URL" No need for IDN's

Originally Posted by Rubber Duck
Numbers is an interesting topic. Latin numbers have been used for centuries by the Chinese and probably by the Japanese as well, so they are an integral part of the language as indeed as some common Latin Acronyms now.

Numbers are of importance to the Chinese and will continue to be important, but that importance has been exaggerated exponentially because than is about all that was workable. Numbers will continue to be used but they won't be the gold dust that have been in Chinese, and as China was really the main market for number domains their value elsewhere is likely to take a knock as well. If you are investing in number domains, either invest in series of 3 or get something with repeated digits like 118118.

Chinese number characters are actually words, less of "number" in the sense of arabic numerals.

English: One, two, Three
Chinese: 一,二,三

English: 1, 2, 3
Chinese: 1, 2, 3

Chinese used to have its own "number" system, but which is now extinct.

Suzhou (蘇州) or huāmǎ (花碼) numerals

In the same way that Roman numerals were standard in ancient and medieval Europe for mathematics and commerce, the Chinese formerly used the rod numerals, which is a positional system. The huāmǎ system is a variation of the rod numeral system. Rod numerals are closely related to the counting rods and the abacus, which is why the numeric symbols for 1, 2, 3, 6, 7 and 8 in the huāmǎ system are represented in a similar way as on the abacus.

Nowadays, the huāmǎ system is only used for displaying prices in Chinese markets or on traditional handwritten invoices. According to the Unicode standard version 3.0, these characters are called Hangzhou style numerals. This indicates that it is not used only by Cantonese in Hong Kong. In the Unicode standard 4.0, an erratum was added which stated:

The Suzhou numerals (Chinese su1 zhou1 ma3 zi) are special numeric forms used by traders to display the prices of goods. The use of "HANGZHOU" in the names is a misnomer.

All references to "Hangzou" in the Unicode standard have been corrected to "Suzhou" except for the character names themselves, which cannot be changed once assigned, according to the Unicode Stability Policy[1]. (This policy allows software to use the names as unique identifiers.)

In the huāmǎ system, special symbols are used for digits instead of the Chinese characters. The digits are positional. When written horizontally, the numerical value is written in two rows. For example:


The top row contains the numeric symbols, for example, 〤〇〢二 stands for 4022. The bottom row consists of one or more Chinese characters that represents the unit of the first digit in the first row. The first part in the bottom row indicates the order of the first digit in the top row, e.g. qian1 (千) for thousand, bái (百) for hundred, shí (拾) for ten, blank for one etc. The second part denotes the unit of measurement, such as yuán (元 for dollar) or máo (毫 or 毛 for 10 cents) or xiān (仙 for 1 cent) or lǐ (里 for the Chinese mile) or any other measurement unit. If the characters shí yuán (拾元, "10 dollars") are below the digits 〤〇〢二, it is then read as forty dollars and twenty two cents. Notice that the decimal point is implicit when the first digit '4' is set at the 'ten' position. This is very similar to the modern scientific notation for floating point numbers where the significant digits are represented in the mantissa and the order of magnitude is specified in the exponent.

When written vertically, the above example is written thus:


The digits of the Suzhou numerals are defined between U+3021 and U+3029 in Unicode.

Zero is represented by a circle, probably the numeral '0', letter 'O' or character 〇 may work well. Leading and trailing zeros are unnecessary in this system. Additional characters representing 10, 20, 30 and 40 exist: 十, 卄, 卅, 卌.

For those who cannot see the Unicode glyphs in the web browser, here is an image with the appearance of these digits:

Note: 9 is a dot on top of a variant of the 〤 (4) symbol (〩,not represented in the image); this symbol looks like the Chinese character for "jiǔ (久)", compare to the formal character '9' "jiǔ (玖)". (Some web browsers, e.g. IE 5.5, display this character incorrectly as the "fǎn wén", or reverse "wén" radical (夂 & 攵 & 夊 & 文), click here to see the correct graphic glyph.)

The digits 1 to 3 come in the vertical and horizontal version so that they can alternate if these digits are next to each other. The first digit usually use the vertical version. e.g. 21 is written as 〢一 instead of 〢〡 which can be confused with 3 (〣).
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