CJK CARDINAL/ORDINAL SYSTEMS
Counting in CJK is a lot more complicated than 1,2,3 (or, 一、二、三). Below are the major
alternative cardinal and ordinal systems:
Banker’s Numbers (CJK)
When minting script (money), writing checks, and producing other monetary documents, for the
same reason that we write out amounts long-hand in English, it is not uncommon to use specially
complex numerical characters that cannot easily be altered. After all, it would be easy to change
一 into 二! Here are those numbers (pronunciation is the same as regular cardinal numbers):
1 壹壱 2 貮弐 3 参 4 肆 5 伍 6 陸 7 漆 8 捌 9 玖 10 拾 100 佰 1000 仟
The Celestial Stems (CJK) 干支
There are ten of these. They are used for the Chinese calendar, but also as an ordinal system:
1 甲 2 乙 3 丙 4 丁 5 戊 6 己 7 庚 8 辛 9 壬 10 癸
Chinese jiǎ yǐ bǐng dīng wù jǐ gēng xīn rén guǐ
Japanese kō otsu hei tei bo kiko kō shin nin ki
Korean kap ul pyeng ceng mwu ki kyeng sin im kyey
Iroha ordinals (Japanese)
ごじゅうおんず
The original organization of kana was not the familiar 五十音図 system you learn today. It was
based on a Buddhist poem that used each syllable exactly once. This order is still very
commonly used as an ordinal system. The first few lines (as much as you’ll probably ever need)
イ○
ロ○
ハ○
ニ○
ホ○
ヘ○
ト○
チ○
リ○
ヌ○
ル○
ヲ
are: ○
Numbers used with “counters”
Undoubtedly you have learned about “counters” in your CJK language.
• In Chinese, the number before the counter generally has its regular (=dictionary)
pronunciation. For example, 一個 is read yī ge.
• In Japanese, many counters take the on-yomi of the number, but some (most notably the
generic –つ) take the kun-yomi of the number. For example:
ひと
一つ
いっこ
一個
ふた
二つ
に
こ
二個
みっ
よっ
さんこ
よんこ
三つ
三個
四つ
四個
いつ
五つ
ご
むっ
なな
やっ
ここの
じゅう
ろっこ
しちこ
はちこ
きゅうこ
じゅうこ
六つ
こ
五個
六個
七つ
七個
八つ
八個
九つ
九個
十つ
十個
•
In Korean, like Japanese, some counters take the “pure Korean” reading of the number;
other counters take the “Sino-Korean” reading of the number.
Pure Korean:
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
하나
둘
셋
넷
다섯
여섯
일곱
여덟
아홉
Sino-Korean:
1
2
일
이
3
삼
4
사
5
오
6
육
7
칠
8
팔
9
구
10
십
10
열
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NUMERICAL/ORDINAL SYSTEMS