Numbers and Numeracy in Chinese Culture, Language and Education: The Social Substratum of the Development of Mathematical Thinking

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Awarded the Adele Mellen Prize for Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship
This study explores the way in which mathematics and calculation have developed against the background of indigenous Chinese philosophy, scientific thinking and statecraft. By examining certain historical, cultural, educational and linguistic phenomena the work illustrates how China has always possessed a number-rich culture and that, as the country becomes modernized, it is becoming more so. This book contains 8 color photographs.


“Dr. Pellatt provides us with a 101 examples of the distinctive use of numbers by the Chinese. ... She reminds us that a mathematically gifted school pupil in Britain is regarded as a nerd but as a celebrity in China. Perhaps that is one reason, among many, for the belief that one day soon China will be the leading superpower in the world. I commend this monograph to all who wish to understand China better.” - Dr. Anthony Butler, University of St Andrews

“Valerie Pellatt’s welcome study is a major contribution to our knowledge of China, articulated through the fascinating focus of number. It is a revealing story, intelligently told, which will benefit specialists, generalists, and the wider reading public.” - Professor William Brooks, University of Bath

“This book is an entertaining and provocative examination of the Chinese number system and the way the Chinese themselves look upon it. Written on the basis of considerable research and residence in the country, the author is firmly convinced that the Chinese are a uniquely number-conscious nation. As she says: "China has a tradition of number awareness like no other nation." This of course is a very bold claim and one which, while possibly not susceptible of 'proof', does require a convincing demonstration of relevant evidence.” - Dr. Stewart Paton

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Foreword by Dr. Anthony Butler
1 Number in Chinese History and Philosophy
2 Number in Chinese Education
3 Numbers in Chinese Language and Culture
4 Number in Chinese Culture
5 The Numbers One by One
6 Conclusion
Appendix 1 - The Chinese Numbers
Appendix 2 - The Ten Stems and the Twelve Branches
Appendix 3 - The Accounting Numerals and the Large-Style Numerals

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