Linguistic Roots of China’s January Surprise

10.01.13

Categorie: Asia, China, David Axe, Space |
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by DAVID AXE

Rumor is China will conduct its third major anti-satellite missile test in six years on Jan. 11. Not coincidentally, the two previous ASAT tests also occurred on Jan. 11 in 2007 and 2010. China also flew its J-20 stealth fighter prototype for the first time on Jan. 11, 2011.

The reason is rooted in Chinese language and tradition. In Mandarin, “January 11” is usually spoken as “1-1-1.” Sets of three are considered lucky in Chinese numerology. “Every year they [the Chinese military] do something interesting on that day,” Owen Cote, an analyst at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told me.

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One Response to “Linguistic Roots of China’s January Surprise”

  1. aldous says:

    surely its pronounced 1-10-1 (excuse pinyin not got hanzi set up here) as it would be yi-shi yi.
    numbers 11-19 are represented with shi first (ten) then the number so 12 = shi er 13= shi san etc(when you hit 20 its er shi, er shi yi etc). The full date would be yi yue shi yi hao.

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