

zero
(ling2) 
one
(yi1) 
two
(erh4) 
three
(san1) 
four
(szu4) 
five
(wu3) 
six
(liu4) 


seven
(ch'i1) 
eight
(pa1) 
nine
(chiu3) 
ten
(shih2) 
hundred
(pai3) 
thousand
(ch'ien1) 
10000
(wan4) 
Similar to other oriental
cultures like Babylon or India (since Brahmagupta, 600 A.D.), also in
ancient China the value 'zero' soon was regarded as a number to
calculate with. Its latin name 'nullum' means 'nothing', the Arabs called
it 'assifra' (lit. meaning 'emptiness'), from where the expression 'cipher'
(=digit) derives. Ptolemy introduced the symbol '0' for it (perhaps from
'oudén'=nothing). In Chinese 'ling2' has the meaning of 'drizzling
rain', 'remainders', fragments', 'fractional' and  hence 'zero'. Thus, in this Chinese system of displaying numbers the 'figure' zero hardly appears, unless expressing the amount 'nothing'. So have a try inserting up to five digits of zeros and just one single nonzero and nevertheless you surely won't see the digit 'ling2', because the number's value will not be zero (nil). Whereas the pros of the ancient Roman system being that one can use the ordinary alphabet's capitals for the digits (I,V,X,L,C,D,M), the cons might be in getting pretty long successions of figures by its way of adding (or substracting) digits  e.g. XXXIII, XCVIII etc. (10+10+10+1+1+1=33; 10010+5+1+1+1=98)  different from the Chinese way's multiplicative method of e.g. 3x10+3=33 or 9x10+8=98. Although the Chinese since long have adopted the modern arab way of writing numbers, much more adequate for calculation (look at this homepage's Chinese webcounter  with special digits there, used to avoid fraud), they still stick to the ancient way giving the opportunity to normally read the numbers like in correctly spoken language: It's just as if pronouncing e.g. 'ten thousand nine hundred seventynine' ...
one, nine, nine, nine year  two month  four day If you'd like to try it out, go to this small but nevertheless interesting page.
(There exists a Romanian version of this page as well...)
