Chinese Zodiac Online
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More About Chinese Zodiac
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Is It Rat or Mouse
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Is It Rat or Mouse – About The Translation
As the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac were introduced to the Western
world, a few were translated to different English words and caused some
confusions as to which were correct. For example, Rat vs. Mouse, Ox vs.
The Chinese words for all 12 animals 鼠牛虎兔龍蛇馬羊猴雞狗豬 are common, generic,
unisex nouns. Except for the mythical creature 龍 (Dragon), all other
words refer to a group of species exhibiting similar characteristics.
Studying the characteristics of a particular group, instead of specific
specie, is the primary objective of Chinese Zodiac. So as they are
translated, the goal is to choose “common, generic, and unisex” words in
it Rat or Mouse?
The Chinese word 鼠 can refer to either rat or mouse - there are no
distinctive words for them. The illustrations in the Chinese Zodiac
scripts depicted a common look of the two, or some look more like rat
and others more like mouse. So the English translation “Rat” or “Mouse”
is fine either way as both are common unisex nouns. We use “Rat” on this
site because it has been widely used for Chinese Zodiac.
it Ox or Cow?
Similar to “Rat or Mouse” above, the Chinese word 牛 can refer to water
buffalo, cattle, ox, etc. The illustrations in the Chinese Zodiac
scripts often showed water buffalo as it was a common livestock in
ancient central China, or sometimes it showed ox or cattle. We use “Ox”
on this site because it has been widely used for
Is it Sheep, Goat or Ram?
Chinese word 羊 does not mean “goat” or “sheep” specifically. Goat was
commonly illustrated in the Chinese Zodiac scripts, but modern zodiac
books depict Sheep more often. We use “Sheep” on this site because it has been widely used for
Chinese Zodiac. Goat is fine too, but Ram is not
recommended as it refers to male sheep.
Is it Rooster or Chicken?
Although the Chinese word 雞 (chicken) is a generic, unisex noun, the
illustrations in Chinese Zodiac scripts always showed a male chicken,
i.e., rooster. This is the only exception of all 12 Zodiac animals,
possibly because rooster’s crown depicts chicken more distinctively so
it is not mistaken for other birds. So We use “Rooster” on this site.
it Pig or Boar?
Pig is a commonly used unisex term, whereas Boar is a male pig. So, it
is a no-brainer, “Pig”.
Rabbit Year or Cat Year?