Recently I wrote about the sale of 13591.com for 13,500 yuan and added a Chinese meaning. In a comment, investor Rune said his domain 17515.com also has a good meaning. So, do all numeric domains have Chinese meanings?
In the post, I said 13591 rhymes with Pinyin words Yi Sheng Wang Jiu Yi (医生网就医 = getting medical treatment at doctor network). Rune indicated that 17515 means Yi Qi Wan Yi Wan (一起玩一玩 = let’s play together). Amazing? Truth be told, numeric domains have no intrinsic Chinese meanings. They are only given meanings through a creative process called rhyming.
How does rhyming work? Take 13.com as a simple example. When you say “1” and “3” in Chinese, they sound like many Pinyin words. So, the first step is to list all the applicable Pinyin words, such as:
1: Yi (医 = doctor), Yao (要 = want), and You (游= travel)
3: San (伞 = umbrella), Sheng (生 = life), Shang (商 = business)
Next, combine the words to form phrases. Start with Yi and you get YiSan, YiSheng, and YiShang. Then, move on to Yao and you get YaoSan, YaoSheng, and YaoShang. Finally, move on to You and you get YouSan, YouSheng, and YouShang. In this exercise, you have created 9 phrases. In actual application, there will be many more phrases.
Then, you need to study the 9 phrases to see if any one makes sense. In this exercise, YiSheng (医生) is good because it means “doctor”. Therefore, 13.com may mean “doctor” and can be used in the medical field. When a numeric domain is associated with a meaning, it becomes easy for Chinese consumers to remember the domain.
Rhyming is practiced by users in corporate China. For example, 1688.com is a wholesale ecommerce site owned by Alibaba. 1688 rhymes with Yi Lu Fa Fa (一路发发) which mean “making a fortune all the way”. Wholesalers using 1688.com can certainly remember the domain because they all want to make a fortune all the way.
The rhyming process takes time. The longer a numeric domain is, the more time it will take. Often, no good meaning can be found. Even if a good meaning is found, it will be lost if the company expands beyond China and enters a market where Chinese is not spoken. Therefore, use of numeric domains in the corporate world is limited.
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