Friday, 29 February 2008

四 – sì – Four

Today’s word is a particularly important one culturally. The number four is seen as unlucky in China, because it sounds similar to the word for death. It is very important to get your tones right on this one.

The number four, 四, is written sì in pinyin and pronounced like the English word sir, with a 4th or falling tone.

Be careful, not to use a 3rd tone as that would be 死, sǐ which means death! Many Chinese people avoid the number 4. For example, hóng bāo should not contain an amount of money that involves the number four. That would be considered very unlucky.

If you find yourself staying on the fourth floor of a hotel in room 444, then be careful.

The number four can also be easily be confused with the number ten, but we’ll say more about that another day.