2015: Year of the Sheep or Goat?

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Image Credit: The Japan Times

Scholars are locking horns as to which zodiac creature we are celebrating this Lunar New Year, however Chinese folklorists dismiss the fixation on animals as missing the point.The symbol for the new year is the “yang,” which can refer to any member of the Caprinae subfamily (and beyond) depending on what additional Chinese character it is paired up with.”This ‘yang’ is fictional. It does not refer to any specific kind (of sheep or goat),” said Zhao Shu, a researcher with the Beijing Research Institute of Culture and History.

“‘Yang’ is a symbol of . . . blessing and fortune and represents good things,” said Yin Hubin, an ethnology researcher with the China Academy of Social Sciences, a government think tank.

A Google search suggests that in English, “year of the sheep” is the most common phrasing. In French, however, the reverse is true, with convention and an overwhelming Google ratio in favor of “chevre,”or goat.

Zhao thinks the translation is “open to interpretation.”

“Sheep, goat, Mongolian gazelle — whatever is fine. This is the fun of Chinese characters,” he said.

Read the full article from the Japan Times, titled: “Sheep or goat? Chinese New Year is more about substance than zodiac creature.”

What are your thoughts – Year of the Sheep or Year of the Goat? Tell us by leaving a comment!

To read more about this topic, check out this article written by our first guest blogger, Vivian Fung.


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