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Text your Chinese girlfriend like a pro using “number speaking”

Have trouble communicating with your Chinese romantic interest? Want a quick and simple way to tell them how you feel without ever having to learn Chinese? Tell them you love them using numbers!

China’s long obsession with superstition and symbolism has given a special significance to numbers. Not only do Chinese rank numbers in a hierarchy of luckiness, but also accept newly given meanings to a set of digits. This means that a number like “520” can be taken to mean “I love you” in China.

There aren’t any hard and fast rules to this practice. The usual rule behind “number speaking” is for the numbers to “sound like” the intended phrase. With only ten available digits, some of these examples are a bit of a stretch (especially the longer ones).

And yet, the use of numbers to represent word phrases remains extremely popular in Chinese chatrooms, internet comments, and text messaging.

Here are a selected list of some “number words” tailor-made for  relationships:

number love relationships texting

Simple Phrases

    1. 520 (Chinese: 我爱你; pinyin: wǒ ài nǐ) means “I love you.” This well-known phrase is a rudimentary example of number speak:”5″ (五, wǔ)sounds like “I” (我, wǒ).
      “2” (二, èr) sounds like “love” (爱, ài).
      “0” (零, líng) sounds like “you” (你, nǐ).As seen by the pinyin, “0” in Chinese doesn’t much resemble its supposed counterpart, but is largely overlooked. Be sure not to confuse this term with 250 which is a derogatory phrase meaning “stupid.

      The significance of this number can be used elsewhere. Giving roses to your girlfriend on May 20 (or 5/20) makes for a Chinese romantic gesture.

    2. 530 (Chinese: 我想你; pinyin: wǒ xiǎng nǐ) stands for “I miss you/I am thinking about you.” This phrase uses “miss” in the Chinese sense of “being concerned” and not as “physically apart.”
    3. 88 (Chinese: 拜拜; pinyin: báibái) is often used to mean “Bye Bye.” Whereas some of these number phrases are new to the point of being obscure, this phrase is so old that it has largely fallen out of fashion.All the same, “88” will continue to be popular due to its Chinese association with luck. It has no association with its recent Western connotation.
    4. 555 (Chinese: 呜呜呜; pinyin: wūwūwū) is used to mimick crying sounds. Another oldie, this phrase is often used for dramatic or comedic effect.
    5. 837 (Chinese: 别生气; pinyin: bié shēngqì) stands for “Don’t be mad.”
    6. 065 (Chinese: 原谅我; pinyin: yuánliàng wǒ) means “Forgive me.”
    7. 687 or 987 (Chinese: 对不起; pinyin: duìbùqǐ) means “Sorry.” This number phrase has two variants, thereby showing the unreliability of this system.
    8. 990 (Chinese: 求求你; pinyin: ) means “Please/I beseech you.”

Complex Phrases

  1. 5201314 (Chinese: 我爱你一生一世; pinyin: wǒ ài nǐ yì shēng yí shì) stands for “I love you, always and forever.”Poetic and a close homonym to the original, this phrase is extremely well-known in China. It is commonly featured on Chinese soap operas as a bank account passcode given as a display of love.
  2. 20161 (Chinese: 爱你一万年; pinyin: ài nǐ yí wàn nián) stands for “Love you for 10,000 years.”
  3. 20475 (Chinese: 爱你是幸福; pinyin: ài nǐ shì xìngfú) means “Loving you is happiness.”

Overly Complex Phrases

  1. 587129955 (Chinese: 我不介意爱朝朝暮暮; pinyin: wǒ
    bú jièyì ài zhāozhāo mùmù) means “I don’t mind loving you from morning to night.”At these lengths, number speaking becomes a less reliable method of communication. As such, this number sequence has been given alternate meanings that demonstrate its status as a novelty:*”I’m not asking to be with you night and day” (Chinese: 我不求与你朝朝暮暮; pinyin: wǒ bù qiú yǔ nǐ zhāozhāo mùmù)
    *”I don’t mind if you kiss me for a long time” (Chinese:
    我不介意你久久吻我; pinyin: wǒ bú jièyì nǐ jiǔjiǔ wěn wǒ)

Images: Baidu, 6zcool

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