Guaranteed Death—Avoid 14

Fourteen is a number to avoid in any context in China and most of the Far East, for its tones sound like ‘guaranteed death.’ Do do not bother looking for a 14th floor in an apartment block, number 14 in a row of houses, or the use or ‘14’ in a number plate or telephone number. Other Chinese numbers to avoid, to a lesser extent, include 4 (which sounds like ‘death’), 5 (which sounds like ‘not’), and 6 (which sounds like ‘decline’). And, as if to bear this out, in our world lives and teaches the fourteenth Dalai Lama, a spiritual hero fated to witness the slow death of his Tibetan homeland.”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

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