One funny thing about Chinese and the Chinese culture - or perhaps just the English language - is that the second animal in the Chinese zodiac is called Ox in English and Cow 牛 (au) in Chinese. In fact, in English we make sure we use the word for the male of the species on all the animals; ram, rooster, and ox, whereas in Chinese they are called sheep, chicken and cow.
Then again, kangaroo in Chinese is called Pocket Mouse, so this is obviously a language that likes to keep things simple. Why bother with Rooster, Cock, Hen, Broiler - and Prostitute - when you can call them all 'Chicken' 雞?
I feel sorry for the two of my students, Snow Dragon 雪龍 (in Sydney) and Jasmine Tea 香片 (in San Francisco), who started taking Cantonese lessons because they are language nerds and Cantonese was the most difficult thing they could think of. I can't tell you how much their faces fell when they realised it's the simplest language evvaaaah. They still love it though. Naturally. You will too!
The Ox: 牛
Ox years: 2021, 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961, 1949, and 1937
(Taken from China Highlights with spelling and other mistakes intact.)
As the strongest animal of the 12 Chinese zodiac signs, known as "the good helper" in Chinese farming, the Ox is a symbol of diligence, strength, honesty, down-to-earth persistence, and wealth.
Having an honest nature, the Ox is known for diligence, dependability, strength and determination. These reflect traditional conservative characteristics.
Female Oxes are traditional, faithful wives, who attach great importance to their children's education. They would achieve their career success easily with their strong personality.
Male Oxes are strongly patriotic. They have strong ideals and ambitions for life, and attach importance to family and work.
Having great patience and a desire to make progress, Oxes can achieve their goals by consistent effort. They are not much influenced by others or the environment, but persist in doing things according to their ideas and capabilities.
Before taking any action, Oxes will have a definite plan with detailed steps, to which they apply their strong faith and physical strength. As a result, people of the Ox zodiac sign often enjoy great success.
Oxes are usually not good at communicating with others, and even think it is not worthwhile to exchange ideas with others. They are sometimes stubborn and stick to their own ways.
Oxes are strong and robust; they can enjoy a fairly healthy and long life, which is fulfilled with little illness.
Because of their hard work with a stubborn personality, they often spend too much time in their work, rarely allowing themselves enough time to relax, and tend to forget meals, which make them have intestinal problems. So enough rest and a regular diet are needed for Oxes to work efficiently.
Are you born in the Year of the Ox? Then you can come to my Chinese New Year party on February 5th. Or take Cantonese lessons from me. Or both.
Today's Cantonese： 牛年 Au lin, Cow year (the year of the Ox)