The word "four" was written as 亖 before Western Zhou and 四 appeared in late Spring and Autumn period. This alternative form was used to prevent confusion of 亖 and 二 or 三 in vertical writing. It was standardized in Qin dynasty.
The bronzeware style of the character featured a repositioning of those four lines inside 口; this later evolved into the combination used today of 口 (“mouth”) and 八 (“divide”) which meant a dispersal of breath. It could thus be said that four is a borrowed meaning for this character. The original sense is preserved in 呬 (OC *hrids), by adding an extra 口.
From Proto-Sino-Tibetan *b-ləj.
- (music) la (musical note)
- (printing) English; The size of type between 小四 (little 4) and 小三 (little 3), standardized as 14 point.
As superstition, 四 (MC siɪH) is avoided because it is similar to 死 (MC sˠiɪX, “death”) in sound.
- → Tai: *siːᴮ (“four”)
- → Vietnamese: tư (“four”)
(grade 1 “Kyōiku” kanji)
- Go-on: し (shi, Jōyō)
- Kan-on: し (shi, Jōyō)
- Kun: よ (yo, 四, Jōyō); よつ (yotsu, 四つ, Jōyō); よっつ (yottsu, 四つ, Jōyō); よん (yon, 四, Jōyō)
- Nanori: あ (a); つ (tsu)
/yo2/ *[jə] > /yo/ [jo].
四 (hiragana よ, rōmaji yo)
Native 四 (yo, “four”) + n, influenced by analogy by the final sound in Chinese 三 (san, “three”).
四 (hiragana よん, rōmaji yon)
四 (hiragana し, rōmaji shi)
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