Shifu in Mandarin, or sifu in Cantonese, is a title for, and the role of, a skillful person or a master. The character ?/? means "skilled person" or "teacher," while ? means "tutor" and ? means "father." ? and ? are pronounced with the same tones in both Cantonese and Mandarin . Though pronounced identically and bearing similar meanings, the two terms are distinct, and their usage is different. The former term, ??/??, bears only the meaning of "master," and is used to express the speaker's general respect for the addressee's skills and experience; it is, for instance, the term frequently used for cab drivers or other skilled laborers—thus, a customer may use this term to address an automotive mechanic. The latter term, ??/??, bears the dual meaning of "master" and "father," and thus connotes lineage in a teacher–student relationship. A tradesperson, for example, would address only their own teacher or master in this way; in the previous example, the mechanic's apprentice would address their master using this term, but a customer would not address that person in that way. By contrast, a senior religious person—and, by extension, experts in Chinese martial arts—can be addressed either as "master-father" or simply as "master" in all contexts. In Chinese culture, the term "shifu" is used as a respectful form of address for people of working class engaged in skilled trades, such as drivers, cooks, house decorators, sometimes for performing artists, and less commonly, also for visual artists such as painters and calligraphers. Likewise, since religious instruction involves a teacher-student relationship akin to apprenticeship, bhikkhu and Taoist priests are also addressed as s?fu or shifu. Practitioners of the learned professions, such as physicians and lawyers, are rarely referred to as "shifu", and some members of such professions may indeed find such a term of address disrespectful. The same term can also be used for those engaged in other occupations which can be seen as analogous to academia and the professions, such as accomplished writers. =
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