kake: The word "菜單" (Chinese for "menu") in various shades of purple. (菜單)
[personal profile] kake

四 (sì) is the character for the number four.

The most common use for 四 on the Chinese menu is perhaps as 四川 (Sìchuān), as in Sichuan food (四川菜/Sìchuān cài) — 四川 literally means "four rivers". 四川 is sometimes abbreviated simply to 川 — note that 四 on its own never means "Sichuan", though.

The next most common is probably as 四季豆 (sì jì dòu), or green beans. The literal translation is "four season beans" — I've read that this is a reference to their being in season all year round.

As noted on Monday, the pronunciation of 四/sì is a little tricky. This YouTube video of a woman cooking 涼拌四季豆 (liáng bàn sì jì dòu, or green bean salad) helps demonstrate the proper pronunciation, since she says 四季豆 quite often towards the start of it!

The radical of 四 is 囗 (wéi/enclosure). At first glance, this looks fairly similar to 口 (kǒu/mouth), which is also a radical. The way to distinguish them is this: when the radical is wéi, the character is basically a box with something in; but when the radical is kǒu, the character will contain one or more empty boxes somewhere within it.

A few examples:

wèi(kǒu radical)flavour/taste — used on menus as e.g. 怪味兔 (guài wèi tù), or "strange-flavour rabbit", a Sichuan dish.
pǐn(kǒu radical)product/commodity — often used on menus to indicate the dessert section, as 甜品 (tián pǐn), literally "sweet things".
huí(wéi radical)revolve/rotate/return — used on menus as 回鍋肉 (huí guō ròu), or twice-cooked pork.

四: radical 31 (囗) Cantodict MandarinTools YellowBridge Zhongwen

Characters mentioned in this post:
If you have any questions or corrections, please leave a comment (here's how) and let me know (or email me at kake@earth.li). See my introductory post to the Chinese menu project for what these posts are all about.

Date: 2010-06-30 10:19 am (UTC)
nanila: me (me: ooh!)
From: [personal profile] nanila
So does that last one contain both the enclosure and mouth radicals?

Date: 2010-06-30 11:40 am (UTC)
pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)
From: [personal profile] pne
I think it depends on your definition of "radical".

In the broad sense of "component", I think it does contain both; in the narrow sense of "the one component that a character is classified by and that you use to look it up", it contains only one, the enclosure one (and anything other than "the radical" would simply be "remainder" and only classified by number of remaining strokes - three, in this case).

Though occasionally, characters may have multiple radicals in the narrow sense; this is typically for characters whose "proper" radical is difficult to determine and which will be listed under several "candidate radicals" that people might think of when trying to look up the character.

For example, 愛 ai4 "love" is traditionally assigned the 心 xin1 "heart" radical which occurs in the middle of the character, but since the defining radical is usually at the top or left, many people will expect the character to be under 爪 zhua3 "claw", so the character may also be listed under that in radical-stroke indexes. But I wouldn't expect it to be listed under 夂 zhi3, the portion at the bottom of the character -- that's a radical in the broad sense (recognisable portion of a character) but not in the narrow sense (defining portion of a character).


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