Cultural Corner: Beware the Number 13

Affecting Lives in More than One Way


Many cultures consider Friday the 13th a day of bad luck and there’s actually a word to describe those who are afraid of the number 13—triskaidekaphobia. Believe it or not, this is one of the reasons why a lot of buildings in the U.S. and around the globe don’t have a thirteenth floor (especially hospitals). Who would have thought these numerical considerations would even affect a building’s architecture?

And speaking of dangerous digits, other numbers have negative connotations in some cultures. For instance, in many Eastern Asian countries, the fourth floor is omitted for similar reasons. Tetraphobia is a similar phenomenon mostly found in Eastern Asian countries such as China, Taiwan, Singapore, Korea, and Japan. It’s common to see floor 3A followed by floor 3B instead of having a fourth floor or fourth block of buildings. During times of celebration or mourning, such as birthdays and the last days of someone’s life and/or funeral, these numbers are carefully avoided.

GM Voices makes sure that your content is mindful of these unique cultural quirks. Don’t risk a major faux pas in your translated materials! Our team is here to help!

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