I read with interest the July 13 column by Norine Dresser. Times. I worked as an ESL teacher in the Alhambra area for three years; 98% of my students were Chinese--either Taiwanese or mainland Chinese. I had discussions with my students about the symbols of numbers in their culture and knew that the number 8 meant great prosperity.
But as I drove to work every day, I couldn't help but notice a liquor store on the corner of Hellman and San Gabriel Boulevard called "The Double 8". This led to a discussion with my students of the importance of numbers in Chinese culture. They also told me that the number 1 was symbolic of long life--a very good number. The number 4 is bad because the Mandarin sound for "4" sounds like the word "to die". I told them of the Western fear of the number 13. This clicked in the mind of one student who, with her husband, managed a large motel complex. They could never find room 13; there was a room 12 and a room 14, but no 13. When I told them that 13 was viewed as unlucky, her puzzlement about the missing room was cleared up.