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For example, when JAXA launches a rocket, or people count the seconds to the New Year, do they use し or よん to count 4? do they use しち or なな to count 7?

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up vote 15 down vote accepted

Usually when you count, you use よん for '4' and なな for '7'. That applies to when you count down.

じゅう きゅう はち なな ろく ご よん さん に いち

However, in some situations, pronouncing a certain sequence of numbers became so frequent end became a fixed expression. In that case, '4' and '7' may be pronounced and しち, respectively. That includes a situation of counting up:

いち に さん  ご ろく しち はち きゅう じゅう

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I wonder why you changed the wording from "so frequent that ..." to "end" (I think you meant "and"). The former sounds much more natural to me. Anyway I rolled back my edit and I'll leave it to you to make any changes if necessary. – Lukman Aug 1 '11 at 2:01
@Lukman Thanks. I prefer your previous edit. My edit was a typo. I meant to improve it grammatically. – user458 Aug 1 '11 at 2:10
+1 Because I had never noticed before that 4 and 7 are commonly said differently depending on whether counting down or up. Now that I think of it, though, that seems to be true. – Questioner Aug 1 '11 at 3:25

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