I'm attempting to create a small, multi-lingual multiplayer game that uses a single-character alphanumerical ordering system. For example, the player's rank would start at their language's first numeric character (0), continue from the last numeric character (9) to the first alphabetical character (A), and finally to the last alphabetical character (Z).

This works for Russian (0-9,А-Ш), Arabic (ض-أ,٠-٩), and even Japanese (〇-九,あ-は). However, now the time has come to include Mandarin, and although 0-9 is easy enough to translate (〇-九, same as Japanese), it is complicated by the language not having an alphabet.

One of the sources I was looking at simply used Mandarin characters to "build" the alphabet (诶,比,西,迪...), but this uses multiple characters (L built as 艾勒, W built as 豆贝尔维). A few other sources suggested using strokes and pinyin(s?) for ordering, but all cited a Wikipedia article about Chinese Indexing (which, of course, had no citations or examples), and had no actual chart or anything that showed the progression.

So, how does one create such an "alphabetical" system in Mandarin, and have it understood by both fluent and new speakers that it has a definite order (eg. each character is "lower" value than the character before it)?

  • the ten heavenly stems and twelve earthly branches make combinations representing a sexagenary cycle see e.g. Wikipedia
    – user6065
    Aug 8, 2018 at 18:34
  • Does A-Z not work? Pinyin seems to be generally ordered A-Z, the same as English.
    – Mou某
    Aug 8, 2018 at 18:56
  • the 10 heavenly stems 甲, 乙, 丙, 丁, 戊, 己, 庚, 辛, 壬, 癸 (used cyclically in the calendar and as ordinal number like Roman I, II, III)
    – user6065
    Aug 9, 2018 at 6:02
  • Wikipedia articles on heavenly stems and earthly branches (comment #1): The Stems are still commonly used nowadays in Chinese counting systems similar to the way the alphabet is used in English.
    – user6065
    Aug 9, 2018 at 12:05

1 Answer 1


I'd use the 10 heavenly stems (天干):

1 - A - 甲
2 - B - 乙
3 - C - 丙
4 - D - 丁
5 - E - 戊
6 - F - 己
7 - G - 庚
8 - H - 辛
9 - I - 壬
10 - J - 癸


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