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I often hear Japanese using a different method for saying a number like "248" as によんぱ — especially for highways and license plates.

While this one is easy to understand, there are others that I don't quite understand. Could someone provide a list of the different pronunciations of each number?

"2525" being ニコニコ is probably a good example of what I'm talking about.

1:い
2:に
3:
4:よん
5:こ
6:
7:
8:は、ぱ
9:

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1  
​​​​​​​​​​​​4649 –  YOU Jun 9 '11 at 4:56
2  
Used a lot in phone numbers too. Sometimes you're allowed to choose the last 4 digits of a new number, but 8686 (はろはろ) is always gone. –  nevan king Jun 9 '11 at 9:29

3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

That's called 語呂合わせ and you could find full article at Wikipedia.

Quoted from Wikepedia

1 : いち、い、ひとつ、ひと

2 : に、ふたつ、ふた、ふ、つ(英語から)、じ

3 : さん、さ、みっつ、みつ、み

4 : よん、よ、よっつ、し、ふぉ(英語から)、ほ

5 : ご、こ、い、いつつ、いつ

6 : ろく、ろ、むっつ、むつ、む

7 : しち、ななつ、なな、な

8 : はち、は、ぱあ、やっつ、やつ、や、やあ

9 : きゅう、きゅ、く、ここのつ、ここの、こ

0 : れい、れ、ぜろ、ない、わ(字形から)、まる(字形から)、おー(アルファベットのOから。)

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hmm, they forgot the simple パ... –  repecmps Jun 10 '11 at 8:28

There is no rule per se and an exhaustive list will need to be in a form of community wiki to be editable by everyone.

A mix of "on-" and "kun-" readings (without the last consonant) + some English pronunciation + some kana modification will work.

I'll list what I've heard with some example if possible: (I'm sure there are some commercial playing on these to advertise their phone numbers as well as a lot of other puns with numbers)

0: オ (0840 = おはよう), レイ, マル
1: ィ (0141 = おいしい)
2: ツ, 二
3: サン (~さん), サ, ミ
4: シ, ヨ (4649 = よろしく)
5: ゴ, ィ
6: ロ (168 = いろは), ム (361 = さむい)
7: ナ (723 = なつみ)
8: パ (883 = パパさん), ハ
9: ク (931 = くさい)
10: ト, トウ, テン

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As with @repecmps's answer, there's no real set rule, but often businesses will make up catchy words so that you can easily remember them. For example, the phone number 0840-0141 could be おはよう、おいしい to remind you of a breakfast diner. Also, people with the last name Saito (さいとう) often attach 3110 (3-さ, 1-い, 10-とう) to their email address, screen names, etc. You just have to be clever.

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