Wednesday, November 30, 2005

"Shi" (thanks to Jonathan for the photo)

Well designed business cards are necessary to attract potential clients’ attention. Shi Studio recently passed out these cards at a Toronto art show. According to their website, “Shi means poems in Chinese”.

That is absolutely correct.

Unfortunately, that is not what is printed on their cards.

The character on the card is (or ), which means “meditation”, and “shi” (or "poem") should be (or ).

Luckily, they did not make the mistake of printing , which is also pronounced as "shi" but with third tone, on their cards. (Hint: This "shi" does not mean "poem.")

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  1. What is the sound of one hand smacking forehead?

    禅 means "Zen" in Japanese.

  2. As far as I can tell, '禅' isn't even a homonym of '诗' even excluding tones, right? So maybe 屎 would be an improvement.

  3. Thank you. Your website is why I will never have a Chinese character tattoo, no matter how tempting ... ever.

  4. Julian,

    No... Zen is just Japanese pronouncation for that character...

  5. peng,

    The character still MEANS "Zen" as well.

  6. Actually, 禅 is pronounced chan2 in standard mandarin, and something that is not shi in cantonese, So I don't know how they could mistake that.

  7. Hello Hanzi,
    Finally I am able to write back to you. Thank you for showing that we had used the incorrect character on our card. It was somewhat embarassing to have found out by seeing it on your site first but necessary to know! I've been meaning to get back to you sooner but I wanted to have the new character done first. I just want to let you know that it was very surprising to learn that it was incorrect as we had taken what we thought were all the correct steps in getting this character made. First, the word shi was given to me by a chinese friend of mine. We both agreed that the meaning of poem or artistic expression was perfect for our pieces that we make using chinese brocades. I then went to chinatown and found a Chinese calligrapher who has his own gallery. I showed him the word, he got out his dictionary and we discussed how there were several different meanings for shi. I told him I definately wanted the version that meant poem. He said he understood and had the character ready for me a few days later. I had no idea it was the wrong character. I assumed that I had what I had asked for seeing as how he was a professional calligrapher. He has since redone the character for me and I was hoping you could have a look at it on our site to let me know if it is right this time. You'll have to refreh your page to see the updated version.
    I look forward to hearing from you!