Learning Mandarin: Four – death…

This is the fifth in a series of posts where I'm looking at how the Chinese view numbers, often from a superstitious basis.

Four

The Chinese character for four (Sì) is shown on the right hand side of the main image above.

Four is universally regarded as a bad number in Chinese culture. Once again, that's because it sounds like other words.

In particular, four sounds like 死 (Sǐ) which means "death". It's similar in Cantonese where the word is sei, it's the same issue. It's considered an unlucky number because of this.

You'll find buildings in Asia that don't have a floor 4 (similar to how many Western buildings years ago had no floor 13). Some buildings take it even further and have no floor 4, 14, 24, 34, and so on.

Four is so frowned upon that people avoid saying it, and don't display it anywhere. People will get upset if they're issued an ID or credit card that has the number 4 in it.

Learning Mandarin

I'll write more soon on the best methods for learning. If you want to get a taste for it in the meantime though, my current favorite site is iTalki, and my favorite teacher by far is Amy He. If you decide to try it, click here and it's cheaper for both you and me.

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