Tuesday, 16 January 2018

酉 | yǒu

In Mandarin Chinese, (Pinyin: yǒu 🔊) is a useful word meaning “an alcoholic drink vessel” (such as bottle, jar etc.) or “have not”. is also the tenth of twelve earthly branches. It corresponds to the Year of the Rooster () of the Chinese zodiac; the eighth month; the hour of the Rooster (5 pm to 7 pm, “the time when Roosters begin to get back to their coops”); and the direction 270° (i.e. west). Its associated “fixed element” is Metal, . Note that the character refers to actual fowl while refers to the zodiac bird.

Does the shape of remind you anything? That’s right, it looks very much like the character . Only in case of we see the Greek letter π trying to get more visible, perhaps with a little help of a bench or something. In fact, has evolved from a pictogram of a jug (of wine).

More photos related to chickens and sea glass @ Shutterstock.

Monday, 15 January 2018

鸡 | jī

In Mandarin Chinese, (Pinyin: 🔊) is a noun for “chicken” and domestic fowl in general. To be more specific, Chinese uses compounds, for example:

The Rooster is one of the twelve-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac and is associated with the earthly branch . The other meanings of include “prostitute” and “penis” (why I am not surprised?).

is a simplified form of a traditional which is a phono-semantic compound of phonetic () and semantic “short-tailed bird”. Historical forms of this character show great diversity, depicting birds with assorted tails and in a variety of positions.

More photos related to chickens and sea glass @ Shutterstock.

Friday, 12 January 2018

未 | wèi

In Mandarin Chinese, (Pinyin: wèi 🔊) is an extremely common word meaning “not” or “have not”. is also the eighth of twelve earthly branches. It corresponds to the Year of the Goat () of the Chinese zodiac; the sixth month; the hour of the Goat (1 pm to 3 pm, “the time when Goats eat grass and urinate frequently”); and the direction 210° (where 0° is north). Its associated “fixed element” is Fire, .

Note that the character refers to any actual caprid animal while refers to the zodiac animal.

More photos related to goats, sheep and sea glass @ Shutterstock.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

羊 | yáng

In Mandarin Chinese, (Pinyin: yáng 🔊) is a noun that is usually translated as “sheep” but is a general name for a caprid animal such as sheep, goat or antelope. To be more specific, Chinese uses compounds, for example:

The Goat is one of the twelve-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac and is associated with the earthly branch .

Just as it is the case with , the character evolved from the pictogram of the animal’s head with horns.

More photos related to goats, sheep and sea glass @ Shutterstock.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

丑 | chǒu

In Mandarin Chinese, (Pinyin: chǒu 🔊) is the second of twelve earthly branches. It corresponds to the Year of the Ox () of the Chinese zodiac; the twelfth month; the hour of the Ox (1 am to 3 am, “the time when Oxen begin to chew the cud slowly and comfortably”); and the direction 30° (where 0° is north). Its associated “fixed element” is Water, .

Note that the character refers to any actual bovid animal while refers to the “zodiac ox”.

More photos related to cattle, buffalo, bulls, cows and sea glass @ Shutterstock.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

牛 | niú

In Mandarin Chinese, (Pinyin: niú 🔊) is a noun that is often translated as “ox” but is a general name for bovine animals (genus Bos, family Bovidae). To be more specific, Chinese uses compounds, for example:

The Ox is one of the twelve-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac and is associated with the earthly branch . is also the name of a Chinese constellation located near the European constellation of Capricorn.

Many historical forms of this character look like cow’s head complete with horns and ears. I think gnu (another bovid although not Bos) is a good mnemonic to remember pronunciation of . For more physics-inclined, is short for 牛顿 / 牛頓 (Niúdùn), “newton” (SI unit of force).

More photos related to cattle, buffalo, bulls, cows and sea glass @ Shutterstock.

Monday, 8 January 2018

戌 | xū

In Mandarin Chinese, (Pinyin: ) is the eleventh of twelve earthly branches. It corresponds to the Year of the Dog () of the Chinese zodiac; the ninth month; the hour of the Dog (7 pm to 9 pm, “the time when Dogs carry out their duty of guarding the houses”); and the direction 300° (where 0° is north). Its associated “fixed element” is Metal, .

The character refers to any actual dog while refers to the “zodiac dog”. is thought to be derived from a pictogram for axe, as can be seen in many historical forms of the character.

More photos related to dogs and sea glass @ Shutterstock.