A Learn Chinese Business blog reader recently inquired about the meaning of “518” in Chinese. In response, Asheville NC-based Mandarin language teacher, Liu Xiu Ming took special efforts to provide an answer (xie xie Xiu Ming!): “518” is pronounced as “wu3 yao1 ba1″ which sounds like “我要发(wo3 yao4 fa1)”. In Chinese,  “我” (wo3) means ” I “, “要” (yao4) means “will; to be going to” and “发” (fa1) means “make a big/great fortune; get rich”. “我要发” (wo3 yao4 fa1) together means “I will make a great fortune quite soon”. By the way, “1” in Chinese is pronounced as “yi1″ and “yao1″ accordingly.
we do have some other numbers which are used to convey special meanings like: 668 (liu4 liu4 ba1)sounds like “路路发(lu4 lu4 fa1)”, which means “every road will lead you to your great fortune”. “168(yi1 lu4 fa1)” sounds like “一路发(yi1 lu4 fa1)” which means “there must be a way that leads you to your great fortune”. “3344520(san1 san1 si4 si4 wu3 er4 ling2)“ sounds like ”生生世世我爱你(sheng1 sheng1 shi4 shi4 wo3 ai4 ni3)” which means “I love you all my life”. etc.

(*For those wondering why there are numbers listed next to the Chinese pinyin, which is a phonetic representation of the characters, it is to denote the tone that should be used when saying the word. There are four tones used in Mandarin–1 is an even sound, 2 goes from low to high, 3 starts high goes low and rises, and 4 goes from high to low. Check out this Youtube for a demonstration of the use of Mandarin Chinese tones.)