Wednesday, October 13, 2010

day 27_un-four-tunate

A notebook with my own personal attempt at learning a few words...
Trying to remind myself when to use which accent...

Today was Wednesday, another long day at the office, and I was ebbing along through the stack of work that I hope to accomplish eventually... I am currently working on documentation for a high rise building to certify that the building is 'green', and I have been moving through this particular building from ground to top floor. When I finally finished the 43rd floor documentation (whew! - talk about one step at a time) I noticed that I could find no information for the 44th floor. I dug around for awhile until I finally gave up and asked my superior - who informed me that there is no 44th floor to my building (well, clearly, there is a literal 44th floor, but in labeling, the number has been skipped all together). As soon as he said it, I knew I had heard about the unluckiness of the number 4 before, but couldn't remember exactly - so I asked him to explain.

As the case would have it, the number four, pronounced 'si' in Chinese sounds almost identical to the word 'death'. Therefore, for this reason, many buildings are missing the 4th, 44th or various other 4-related floors. My first reaction was of course to think that "Wow, the Chinese are so superstitious," but not a second later he asked me - "Isn't that like the 13th floor in the US?" and I realized we have an identical hang-up... that I don't even know the significance of... At least, the Chinese do have a finite reason for avoiding the number.

Aside from being slightly intrigued, what did I take from this you might ask?

1. I should probably refrain from attempting to speak the word 'four' in Chinese... poor language skills and all
2. No wonder I was able to find my fabulous apartment unsnatched! At least it is not on the 13th floor?
3. I ought to look into why it is that Americans percieve 13 as being 'unlucky' instead of being clueless about my own culture's superstitions!

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