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View Full Version : し and く, Death and Suffering? Nope, unlucky numbers - Vocab



Myogan
09-18-2017, 04:33 PM
From https://www.lingualift.com/blog/lucky-unlucky-numbers-japan/


In Japan, certain numbers are lucky and unlucky. It's really important to know these numbers because if you don't, you could be accidentally telling someone you'd like them to suffer a slow agonizing death when you're giving them omiyage (お土産, souvenirs) from your trip to Kyoto.

Death, agony and suffering

First, let's get the bad ones out of the way. Four is an unlucky number in Japan because it sounds like shi (死 death). This is why there are two readings for the number four, shi and yon. Whenever possible, people try to avoid using the deathy one.

The same is true of the ku (九 nine), which sounds like ku (苦 suffering, agony or torture). Similarly to four, there are two readings for nine ku and kyu.

Some buildings such as hospitals don't have fourth or ninth floors, although I've never personally encountered one. Maternity wards may not have a Room 43 because it sounds like shisan (死産 stillbirth).

Certain license plate numbers are not used such as 42, which sounds like shini (死に to death); 49, which sounds like shiku (敷く to run over); 42-19, which sounds like shini iku (死に行く to go and die); 42-56, which sounds like shini-goro (死に頃 time to die); and 24, which can be nishi (二死 two deaths or two out if you're a baseball fan).

Some of the Yakuza's scarier members use their license plates to express their contempt for their own mortality by choosing 4444. That's quite a bit of death and a car with this plate is one you don't want to cut off on the highway.

You have to get creative when you have a number that sounds like death.

For me the numbers do not mean suffering, but trying to learn all the counters in Japanese might be. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_counter_word

Gassho
Sat

Eishuu
09-18-2017, 05:40 PM
Thanks Myogan. I had been wondering why some numbers had two different versions. What about 7 - しち、なな? Do you know why that has two different words?

Gassho
Lucy
ST/LAH

Souchi
09-18-2017, 06:53 PM
Thanks, Myogan. This is a nice fact to know, especially if you watch Japanese (horror) movies or play Japanese (horror) video games. There you will indeed very often encounter a mysterious or cursed fourth floor of a hospital [smile]

Gassho,
Stefan

SatToday

Kyonin
09-18-2017, 10:07 PM
You mean like the Fourth Floor in Silent Hill?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=naSFLJRhlYM

Spooky stuff!

Gassho,

Kyonin
Sat/LAH

Myogan
09-18-2017, 10:19 PM
Lucy,
The best answer I ever heard was that なな (七、nana) and よん(四、yon) are Kun'yomi pronunciations, that is, the way native Japanese was before Chinese writing came along. What we are usually taught (ichi, ni, san . . .) is the On'yomi pronunciation. There are Kun'yomi pronunciations for all the numbers, but in general use only 1 to 10 are used regularly, and mostly in counter combinations and then often with minor changes (e.g. みっつ, instead of みつ for counting three things)
Here are the base numbers for Japanese I believe
1 - ひと, hito
2 - ふた - futa
3 - み - mi
4 - よん - yon
5 - いつ - itsu
6 - む - mu
7 - なな - nana
8 - や - ya
9 - ここの - kokono
10 - とお - to o

Gassho
Sat
Inconsistent student of Japanese for 7 years, no JLPT taken.

Eishuu
09-19-2017, 09:01 AM
Thanks! I recognise those from the days of the month. Nice to understand a bit more about the different versions...weird that the textbooks don't seem to explain it...or maybe I missed it. I've yet to tackle counters in any big way...kind of putting it off!

Gassho
Lucy
ST/LAH

Souchi
09-19-2017, 09:41 AM
You mean like the Fourth Floor in Silent Hill?

...

Spooky stuff!

Gassho,

Kyonin
Sat/LAH

Haha, that is what I had in mind. Really creepy [happy]

Gassho,
Stefan

Sat Today

Seishin
09-20-2017, 03:51 PM
Myogan

Your post made me chuckle. During my 22 yrs in martial arts, we used Shi and Ku all the time. Our Chief Instructor would put us through what she called a "beasting session" each training day, the objective being to push students and instructors until they dropped out (physically and mentally). There were times when I thought I'd "die" but along with another mature student and an ex-Coldstream Guard (both in our 40s), neither of us would give in and never did, while the "youngsters" dropped like flies..

Now all that suffering makes sense ............ mine and my eventual students !

STMIZ / LAH

Kakunen
09-21-2017, 10:49 PM
I think
し is not good number for Japanese.So football player do not want ware No4.So He ,Tulio Tankaka ware No4.He is half Brasil and Japan.

But く is good number.Japanese like patience ( ◠‿◠ )
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