Folk speech

Four

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the performer (HH) and I (ZM).

HH: We don’t like the number four. Four means um, in Cantonese, like translates to “die.” So, um… Fourteen is like um, “You will die.”

ZM: Oh noo

HH: Yeah, it’s really bad. So, we don’t like that number.

 

Context: This is from a conversation I started with HH about her Chinese culture.

 

Background: HH was born in China and raised in Oakland, CA. Both of her parents are Chinese, and they speak limited English. She is a sophomore studying at the University of Southern California.

 

Analysis: I have heard that four is similar to the word for death in Chinese, but I had not heard about fourteen. It makes me wonder about all other numbers that include “four.” I previously thought it was just the “four” by itself that was negative, but now I am not sure.

 

 

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