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Chinese Numerals

A Comparison of Readings from

China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam

© Dylan W.H. Sung

"Standing on the shoulders of giants." Sir Isaac Newton, 1642-1727


Languages and Dialects

Table 1. Representations in IPA and other romanisation in various Chinese dialects and languages of Chinese character numerals.

Chinese Tones
Sheng1Diao4Tone TypeUpper
Ru4"Entering"7a , 7b8

Table 2. Tone markings as numerals used in Table 1.


Chinese Dialects

Sino-xenic Languages


CharacterChinese DialectOtherComments
7a7a87a1 High Rising
Ru*The southern dialects share the same Ru tone class as found in ShiYun (Poetry) rhymes, though they belong to different registers. Mandarin has lost its occlusive ending, and ends up in a Ping tone.
65465 Low Falling
Qu Chaozhou pronunciation has changed tone class as compared with ShiYun, but the other dialects seem to retain the original category, though at different registers.
11111 Mid Level
Xia Ping  All four example dialects are in upper level tone, the ShiYun tone was a Xia Ping (level) tone, whilst those of the dialects show upper level tone. Vietnamese also has a level tone.
22252 High Rising
Qu ShiYun Qu tone class shows that the Chinese dialects have changed tone to a lower level tone, except for the Fuzhou dialect which is in the Yin Qu register.
43233 High Broken
Shang Chaozhou has changed to a lower Ping tone, whilst other dialects seems to have kept to the same tone class as given by ShiYun rhymes.
87a88 5 Low Broken
Ru* The lower broken tone of Vietnamese seems to correspond here to the lower Ru tone in Chaozhou and Cantonese. Hakka has low pitch for this type of tone in the standard Meixian dialect.
7a7a7a7a1High Broken
Ru* All the southern dialects share the same tone type. The Vietnamese high brokem tone appears to follow Cantonese and Chaozhou upper Ru tone.
7b7a7a7a1High Rising
Ru* The southern dialects agree only in tone class, and Cantonese has a mid Ru tone which has been grouped with the Upper Ru tones for the other dialects.
33333Low Rising
Shang The lower Shang tone is reflected in Vietnamese by the low rising one in this case.
22222Mid Level
Xia Ping The ShiYun Xia Ping level tone is shows no change in tone type for the dialects, and Vietnamese agrees in a level tone. All modern Chinese dialect here show a Yang Ping tone.
88882Low Broken
Ru*The southern dialects agree in tone class (lower Ru) and Vietnamese by the lower broken tone.
7b7a7a81 High Rising
Ru* Like the character for eight, this 100 also shows the same varieties of tone for each dialect. The Fuzhou dialect shows a lower Ru register.
11111 Mid Level
Xia Ping  Both Vietnamese and the Chinese dialects show a level tone type. However, all Chinese dialects represented here show the Yin Ping tone.
65665 Low Broken
Qu The ShiYun tone class has been perserved by the Chinese dialects, though at different registers.
7a5855High Rising
Ru* Hakka, FuZhou and Mandarin, do not exhibit an occlusive ending for this case. The ShiYun Ru tone is kept by Cantonese and ChaoZhou, although at different registers. Why the conservative Southern dialect of Hakka and Fuzhou has lost the -k ending which appears in Sino-Xenic readings is unsure. The right portion of this character is often used as a phonetic, and only displays the occlusive end in the other dialect and languages when used this way in some cases.
Table 3. Comaparison of Tones in Chinese Dialects and Vietnamese.


Table 4. Summary of endings comparing Chinese dialects and Sino-Xenic Languages (not in IPA)
Please see notes about the use of n in Japanese.



Vietnamese Transcription notes

Vietnamese sounds and tones are written in the VIetnamese Quotable Readable (VIQR) form using ASCII keyboard characters (some information about this standard used here, can be found at

Tones are coloured in red.

Vietnamese Tones
MarkingNguyen's V. DictionaryV. termRough Guide to Vietnamese
a(unmarked)LevelngangMid Level Tone
a'High Risingsa('cHigh Rising Tone
a`Low Fallinghuye^`nLow Falling Tone
a?Low Risingho?iLow Rising Tone
a~High Rising Brokennga~High Broken Tone
a.Low Constrictedna(.ngLow Broken Tone

It also possesses other letters which are not found on the keyboard but which represented by similar characters that are modified by the following set of characters (in blue).

Other Vietnamese Symbols
a^e^o^a, e, and o with a circumflex ^ on top
o+u+o and u with a spout
a(a with a croissant on top, horns pointing up
ddonly one letter d with a horizontal bar across the stem

The whole Vietnamese alphabet in VIQR in traditional order (but without tones) follows:

a a( a^ b c ch d dd e e^ g gh gi h i k kh l m n ng ngh nh o o^ o+ p q ph qu r s t th tr u u+ v x y

In NTC's Vietnamese English Dictionary by Nguyen, gh comes under g, ngh comes under ng.

Chinese Index : Homepage
© Dylan W.H.Sung 1996-onwards
This page was created on Friday 27th November 1998
and last modified on Thursday 25th April 2002.