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How to Say Master in Chinese?
How do you say Master in Chinese? Many non-Chinese men that I have met knew the Chinese name for Master – SHIFU even when they barely understand Mandarin. Moreover, they are always enthusiastic about the title – Shifu or Sifu if they have been watching too many Martial Arts 功夫 Gōngfū films. That is how many they understand the term Master in Mandarin.
Shifu or Sifu?
Master in Chinese is 师傅 Shīfù or 师父 Shīfu? The Pinyin for 师 is Shi and not Si. Sifu is a Cantonese pronunciation, pronounced as “See-foo” (‘C-fool’ without the ‘L’ sound). If you are unsure of the Shi and the Si sound, check out the post on Difference between Z, C, S and ZH, CH, SH Sound to hear the intonation between Shi and Si.
The Pinyin for both “Fu” has different accent marks (父 fu is a neutral sound here) which indicate that they should have different pronunciation. However, the difference in pronunciation is not apparent and does not apply in this case. 父 has also a Pinyin sound of fù.
Difference Between Shifu Chinese:
师傅 and 师父
Master in Chinese – 师傅 Shīfù
In some Chinese skilled professions, we call these artisans and craftsmen “Master 师傅 Shīfù” when they teach or work in some industries requiring craft and technical skills.
师傅 Shīfù can also be a mentor during an apprenticeship like a teacher. The apprentice is thus called 徒弟 Túdì.
The other known professions which we call 师傅 Shīfù are the chefs working in the restaurants. On the subject of occults and metaphysics, we call the mediums and fortune tellers as 师傅 Shīfù too.
So, don’t be surprised if you hear the name called on somebody in a profession. Be it whether they are indeed a teacher or a professional master in their field of specialisation or not.
师傅 Chinese Shifu Profession
|Martial Arts Master||武术师傅||Wǔshù shī fù|
|Taiji Master||太极师傅||Tàijí shīfù|
|Fengshui Master||风水师傅||Fēngshuǐ shīfù|
|Fortune Teller||算命师傅||Suànmìng shīfù|
|Tim Sum Chef||点心师傅||Diǎnxīn shīfù|
Master in Mandarin – 师父 Shīfu
The other Chinese term is 师父 Shīfu which also denotes Master in Chinese. The modern Chinese dictionary defines the two terms as the same as nowadays, people rarely write 师父 Shīfu anymore as compared to 师傅 Shīfù due to modernised evolution that makes 师父 Shīfu seem antiquated.
师父 Shifu Meaning
What is 师父 Shīfu meaning here? We address the Buddhist monks, nuns and Taoist priests 师父 Shīfu as a form of respect for them.
In the olden days when someone has a disciple 徒弟 Túdì or a Buddhist disciple 弟子 Dìzǐ, he would call his teacher 师父 Shīfu. The Chinese word 父 Fù means father.
The teacher or the master would take care of the disciple like his own son. Therefore, there was a special bonding between the two of them which the teacher was regarded as a father to the disciple.
Such a close relationship between the teacher and disciple can go on until the end of their life. Hence, the word 师父 Shīfu which illustrates a connection more than that of a teacher and his student.
Nowadays, it is no surprise that such a close-knitted relationship is hardly in existence due to social evolution. Even the Chinese dictionary has to modernise and mould its meaning to accommodate the redundancy.
Conclusion: 师傅 VS 师父
In summary, Master in Chinese is 师父 = 师傅 and the modern word used today is 师傅 Shīfù. Hence, there should be no discrepancy between the two.
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