Tallying Numbers in Korea

In Australia, and in much of the English speaking world I expect, we use the following system to tally numbers:

It’s something we learn in primary school and until recently I naively didn’t realise there were a variety of ways to tally numbers. Within Korea and other nations which use Chinese characters, they this alternative system:


As with the first system, you build up groups of five tallies, like so  正正丅.

Nifty huh? I don’t think I could change my way of tallying though, I’m much too used to the first method!

Do you use one of these methods? Or something else altogether?


5 thoughts on “Tallying Numbers in Korea

  1. Enolah says:

    You find it nifty, does it mean it has a meaning, like it’s an actual word? I don’t know much about chinese nor enough hanja to recognize it..
    In France we make a square with the first four tallies and we cross it with the fifth ^__^

  2. Autonomous Korean says:

    It’s the character 正, 바를 정 (that is, pronounced 정 with the meaning 바르다, right or straight. I guess they just use it because each stroke is distinct and each of the five forms are distinct. I occasionally use it…I think it’s clearer than the Western system when you’re writing very small…

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