I received email asking about what 886 means in Chinese. This is an interesting question.
Simply put it, 8 may generally means rich, because it has similar pronunciation of being rich. 6 means smooth, since the pronunciation of 6 is pretty smooth by itself.
886 is a pretty good number, in most Chinese people’s mind.
Meanwhile, it is also the international long distance area code number for Taiwan (mainland China is 86, and Hong Kong is 882).
Numbers and Its Related Characters
Since there are tens of thousands of Chinese characters (number 0 to 9 are just ten of them), and there are basically only 200 or something pronunciations, as you can imagine, many characters maps to exactly the same pronunciation.
Although there are characters with exactly the same pronunciation with the 10 numbers, like cloth to 1, dance to 5, wander to 6, wife to 7…, these numbers are not generally mapping to this meanings. There are some characters with pretty similar meanings, like 4 and die, 8 and rich, 5 and me, 1 with want, 2 with son, that are generally used to “translate” the numbers.
Impact of Numbers to People
People in China generally (although it may be too generally to say so) care about numbers and their meanings, to certain extend. A good number (with many 8 or 6 in it) is much more popular than others.
For office and residential buildings, people don’t like number of 4, 14, just like western people don’t like number of 13. So you may see some buildings with stair numbers like this:
A Joke about Telephone Number
When I was in Shanghai Jiaotong University, I have a schoolmate who don’t want to tell others the telephone number of their dorm, and in early 1995, they all bought a pager, or mobile phone. Their phone number was:
(with 5 means I, 7 means wife, 2 means son, and 8 means dad, and 4 means die…)