Another very common character on Chinese menus is 魚 (yú in pinyin). On its own, it simply means "fish".
魚 rhymes roughly with the French "tu", and is pronounced with the second tone — remember, the second tone is denoted with an acute accent and pronounced with a rising, questioning tone. Here's an example pronunciation of 魚.
Here are some menu words that use the character 魚:
|魚片||yú piàn||sliced fish (edit, November 2010: I think "fish fillets" might actually be a better translation)|
|魷魚||yóu yú||squid or cuttlefish|
|鯽魚||jì yú||tilapia or crucian carp|
|鱔魚||shàn yú||swamp eel|
Approximate pronunciations: I'm having trouble coming up with an explanation of how to pronounce piàn; it sort of rhymes with "yen", and it's a bit like saying the letters "p" and "n" one after the other very quickly — "pee en", but more compressed than that.
The others are a little easier to describe; yóu is pronounced "yo" (not "you"; compare with 肉/ròu from last week), jì is pronounced "gee", mán is pronounced rather like "man" in British English, and shàn rhymes with mán (aside from the tones).
The observant may note that 魷, 鯽, 鰻, and 鱔 have something in common; they all include a sort of squashed version of 魚 on their left-hand sides. This is no coincidence! If you see a character of this form, it's a pretty good bet that it refers to some kind of fish. However, this is not a guarantee; for example, 鮮 (xiān) is of this form, but actually means "fresh" or "delicious". Similarly, many fish-related words use characters of other forms, for example:
|三文魚||sān wén yú||salmon|
墨 means "ink", which is one of the defining characteristics of the cuttlefish, so 墨魚 is literally "ink fish". 三文魚 has a different etymology; sān wén is actually phonetic for "salmon"! (I suspect this is more apparent in Cantonese pronunciation.)
|魚:||yú||radical 195 (魚)||Cantodict||MandarinTools||YellowBridge||Zhongwen|