Abstract.The polystructural nature of the Chinese semiotic system manifests itself in the fact that there are several sets ofnumbers in China: rod numerals, banker’s numerals, Arabic numerals,
Roman numerals, the traditional Suzhou numerals, the Heavenly
Stems and the Earthly Branches. This study has been executed in
the framework of the semiotic approach and its aim is to determine which of the above sets may perform language functions,
i.e. act as numerals, and to establish the bases therefor.
A.F. Losev’s sign theory serves as the methodological framework. The theory states that a language has a two-plane nature.
In this context the relationship between the expression and the
content planes are the correlation between the digit and the number. The application of the theory allows one to reveal the specificity of the language sign as opposed to the specificity of the
mathematical sign.
The Frege triangle depicting the structure of the sign is used to
describe such phenomena as the digit, the number, and the numeral. The left apex of the triangle represents the number (the
denotatum) – id est an image in human consciousness. The upper
apex of the triangle represents the sign (the character in the Chinese language). The right apex ofthe triangle represents the notion about the denotatum. Since the Frege triangle has only three
apexes it may not be applied to all the numeric signs – just the
ones that are numerals in which case the left apex representing
the denotatum remains constant and the upper and the right ones
are variable.
The language sign itself is a partof the semiosis process in which
the interpreter of the process is extremely important. Cultural
peculiarities of the nation are encoded in the numerals – they
may be understood by an interpreter who is either the native
speaker or a foreigner with the appropriate cultural background.
The analysis of the nature of the Chinese numeric signs and their
functions makes it possible to qualify the signs belonging to rod
numerals, the Heavenly Stems and the Earthly Branches, the Suzhou numbers as numerals with the sign structure following the
Frege triangle pattern.
Keywords: Chinese numerals, Chinese figures, semiotics

Liudmila L. Bankova
Linguistics University of Nizhny Novgorod
Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
e-mail: lwittsa@yandex.ru

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