Cantonese: Lucky numbers

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indigoduck

Senior Member
Canadian English
Hi all,

I'm told number 8 is a lucky number because it rhymes with "Faat" (prosper).

Someone else told me 3 is even luckier and so is 5.

Can you share with us all the lucky numbers and unlucky ones and what they sound like to make them lucky/unlucky ?

Thanks in advance.
 
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  • Jerry Chan

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hokkien
    In Cantonese 8(發) and 3(生) are lucky numbers.
    6(祿) and 9(久) are good too.
    And 4 is of course unlucky because it sounds like 死

    Some combinations are particularly lucky/unlucky:
    18 - 實發
    28 - 易發
    328 - 生意發 (good business)
    3388 - 生生發發
    9413 - 九死一生 (which of course is very ominous)
     

    Skatinginbc

    Senior Member
    Mandarin 國語
    Mandarin: 523 吾兒散, 524 吾兒死/我餓死, 574 吾妻死/我氣死, 548 我死吧, 2488 餓死爸爸, 7423 妻死兒散!! Some combinations that sound "lucky" in Cantonese may be "unlucky" in Mandarin, so be aware of the linguistic background of the target audience. The safest bet is to find combinations that are "lucky" in both Mandarin and Cantonese.
     
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    SuperXW

    Senior Member
    I think most numbers rhyme in similar ways in both Cantonese and Mandarin, including the most significant two:
    4 - die
    8 - get rich

    These two almost always keep their denotations regardless of the combination.

    For 5:
    5 - Mandarin: I, me
    5 - Cantonese: "I, me" OR "not"

    For 2:
    2 - Cantonese: easy
    2 - Mandarin: no specific meaning, occasionally "son", occasionally "stupid", but never "easy"

    I used to open a thread about good/bad numbers in another forum, and mentioned: "...because each Chinese character only have one syllable, it's very easy for Chinese to combine a group of numbers and find some similar sounding word or sentence."

    The "combinations" are like tests of people's imagination. There are too many possibilities. One can interpret them as either good or bad.
    For example, in Skatinginbc's combinations, 548 does not necessarily means 我死吧. Many people would rather say it's 我死发 (I get rich to death). The good meaning of 发 often get a higher priority.
     
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    Isidore Demsky

    Senior Member
    English
    Is fourteen considered unlucky in Cantonese?

    Can it sound like anything good?

    And are these superstitions based on exact homophones, or near homophones?
     

    Isidore Demsky

    Senior Member
    English
    Thank you.

    I understand that four sounds like death, and fourteen sounds like a phrase associated with death, but don't either of them sound anything like anything good?

    In Japanese, shi can mean death or "blessing of heaven," so it could be taken either way
     

    枫十二

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    In music,1234567.4=fa=发(财)
    A friend of mine deliberately choose his phone number XXXXXXXX4444.
    He likes it very much and talks about this music thing whenever he has a chance.
    It depends!
     

    SuperXW

    Senior Member
    In music,1234567.4=fa=发(财)
    A friend of mine deliberately choose his phone number XXXXXXXX4444.
    He likes it very much and talks about this music thing whenever he has a chance.
    It depends!
    Your friend must be an "artistic" type. They are very proud of their unique personalities. :p

    I understand that four sounds like death, and fourteen sounds like a phrase associated with death, but don't either of them sound anything like anything good?
    Although there ARE other near homophones, people would like to think about the most "important" matter first, like "live rich" or "die". For example, 14 sounds exactly the same to the word 食肆 (food restaurant), but what for...?
     
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    Isidore Demsky

    Senior Member
    English
    Does this mean anything in Chinese (and does it sound anything like the word for "four")?

    How about this 始 ?

    P.S. I know they're Japanese, but I think this style of writing was imported from China, and I was wondering if these symbols mean anything in Cantonese or Mandarin?

    In Japanese, I believe the first symbol means "a blessing from heaven," and the second symbol means "beginning."

     
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    SuperXW

    Senior Member
    ^祉 also has the meaning of "blessing" in Chinese, but the character is not very common. And it's almost never used alone, always in some word.
    始 is common. But it's basically neutral. We don't know "beginning of what" if use separately.
     

    Youngfun

    Senior Member
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    Cantonese also dislike the English letter "C" because it sounds like 死 death, and so they try to avoid it in car plates. By the way Guangdong province stopped putting the number 4 in car plates.

    In my region the most common lucky combinations are 888, 168(一路发)and 87(发财)。
    In my city the road assistance tel. no. is 16639999(一路留心,走走走走)which makes sense only in our dialect.
     

    Isidore Demsky

    Senior Member
    English
    祉 also has the meaning of "blessing" in Chinese, but the character is not very common. And it's almost never used alone, always in some word.
    始 is common. But it's basically neutral. We don't know "beginning of what" if use separately.
    Thank you.

    When either of these words are pronounced, do they sound anything like the word for "four"?

    P.S. I understand that 42 sounds something like "die easy," but most of us hope for an easy death when the time comes.

    Is it considered a lucky or an unlucky number?

    (And can it also be taken to sound like some other word or phrase with a more positive connotation?)
    祉 also has the meaning of "blessing" in Chinese...
    How would it be pronounced?

    Would it sound anything like "four"?
     
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    Isidore Demsky

    Senior Member
    English
    I don't know if this is Mandarin or Cantonese, but if you type in "blessing" and click on the little speaker icon next to "si," and then type in "four" and click on the little speaker icon next to "si," the pronunciation sounds identical to me.

    Am I missing something?
     
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    strad

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    I don't know if this is Mandarin or Cantonese, but if you type in "blessing" and click on the little speaker icon next to "si," and then type in "four" and click on the little speaker icon next to "si," the pronunciation sounds identical to me.
    If the chinese pronunciation says "si", it is probably Mandarin because (as mentioned above) 4 (四) is pronounced "sei" (tone 3) in Cantonese. I cannot think of a single word in Cantonese that has the same pronunciation as 4. (Also as mentioned above) "die" (死) is pronounced séi (tone 2) which is similar, but different tone.

    In Mandarin, I think 四, 寺, and 祀 are all pronounced the same (si4), but none of those words mean blessing.
     

    SuperXW

    Senior Member
    I don't know if this is Mandarin or Cantonese, but if you type in "blessing" and click on the little speaker icon next to "si," and then type in "four" and click on the little speaker icon next to "si," the pronunciation sounds identical to me.

    Am I missing something?
    1. This is Cantonese.
    2. For "blessing", there isn't si, only ci2 and zi2.
    3. "c" is pronounced like "ts", while "s" is "s".
    4. Both Cantonese and Mandarin are highly sensitive to tones. That's what the numbers for. If the tones are different, they are not identical.
    5. When there are two or more pronunciations for one character, not everyone of them is common. For "four", sei3 is the common one.
    6. If you count every "similar" sound, their will be too many possibilities.
     

    strad

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    http://www.chinese-tools.com/tools/dictionary.html

    As I said, if you type in "blessing" and click on the little speaker icon next to "si," and then type in "four" and click on the little speaker icon next to "si," the pronunciation sounds the same.

    Is this Cantonese or Mandarin?
    It is Mandarin. I do not think I have ever seen that word for blessing, , before, so I do not think it is a very common word. And the pronunciation is different from four (四) as it is 1st tone and four is 4th tone. Chinese is a tonal language.
     

    xiaolijie

    Senior Member
    UK
    English (UK)
    It is Mandarin. I do not think I have ever seen that word for blessing, , before, so I do not think it is a very common word. And the pronunciation is different from four (四) as it is 1st tone and four is 4th tone. Chinese is a tonal language.
    I think reasoning seems to go round in circles with these things. The difference in tones apparently doesn't seem to matter in the association between the following two characters: 死 (sǐ, 3rd tone),四 (sì, fourth tone). People still try to avoid the number 4 (四) although its tone is different from that of death (死).
     
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    Isidore Demsky

    Senior Member
    English
    I think reasoning seems to go round in circles with these things. The difference in tones apparently doesn't seem to matter in the association between the following two characters: 死 (sǐ, 3rd tone),四 (sì, fourth tone). People still try to avoid the number 4 (四) although its tone is different from that of death (死).
    Thank You.
     

    SuperXW

    Senior Member
    Sorry.

    I thought I posted the link.

    Here it is.

    http://www.chinese-tools.com/tools/dictionary.html

    As I said, if you type in "blessing" and click on the little speaker icon next to "si," and then type in "four" and click on the little speaker icon next to "si," the pronunciation sounds the same.

    Is this Cantonese or Mandarin?
    I don't think that dictionary is a good tool. Chinese is a very different language. You often cannot find a "direct translation" of some word. Even they have similar meanings in some point, the way you use them can still be different.
    For example, that si your dictionary shown is an extremely rare character. It could be an ancient one used for special purpose. Most Chinese wouldn't recognize it.
    When you say "blessing", most common translations are 祝福 and 保佑. But none of them was shown on your list.
     

    Isidore Demsky

    Senior Member
    English
    Is this true?

    Although the number is considered unlucky by most Chinese , it is considered lucky in some local Chinese dialects where it is a homophone with the word "事". When the number 4 is encountered during a celebration, people would often remark "四四如意", which would also refer to "事事如意" .
    http://bixdog.blogspot.com/2008/10/numbers-in-chinese-culture.html

    What does the word "事" mean?

    And what do "四四如意" , and "四四如意" mean?
     
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    Isidore Demsky

    Senior Member
    English
    Definitely!
    It sounds like "實死" (doomed to die!)
    I think it's one the most unlucky numbers in Cantonese!
    So would 514 be considered a lucky number (as in "not doomed to die")?

    What about 145?

    Would that be lucky too (as in "doomed to die, not")?

    Does word order matter when figuring which number combinations are lucky, and which are unlucky?
     

    Jerry Chan

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hokkien
    514 is called 五一四 (5-1-4), not 五十四 (5-10-4)
    54 is indeed 五四 or 五十四 (唔死/唔實死), but we won't say it's a lucky number, except perhaps in some specific context.

    145 is not either. (by the way, in general, we don't put 'not' at the end of a sentence for a negative meaning in Chinese)
     

    SuperXW

    Senior Member
    Unless it's some obviously special numbers with some obvious connotations, a random combination MAY be said by someone that it sounds "similar" to some words or expressions, but usually far-fetched.
     

    strad

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    42 is neither lucky nor unlucky ! 2 sound like"ir" in the word"sir".
    In Cantonese 2 is pronounced yi which is the same pronunciation as the word for easy, 易. So 4 2 kind of sounds like 死易, but I don't think anyone considers that as an unlucky number.
     

    Isidore Demsky

    Senior Member
    English
    (by the way, in general, we don't put 'not' at the end of a sentence for a negative meaning in Chinese)
    Are there times when you do put "not"at the end of a sentence for a negative meaning in Chinese?

    I think 54 ("not die") could be considered a lucky number.

    Could 45?

    Does the word for "one" sound like the word for "real," or "true"?
     
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