The Year of Rooster

As a hard-working animal in Chinese culture rooster-鸡(jī) gets up early in the morning and its calling became pretty much the symbol of a new day beginning. While in most cases, Rooster is, like in western culture, not a very fancy image.

There is an old saying goes like this, “宁为鸡头,不做凤尾(nìng wéi jītóu, búzuò fèngwěi)” which in English is “Better be a head of a rooster than the tail of a phoenix.” Rooster is kind of downgraded for its features. In people’s mind they are just normal, mediocre animals that have little to be praised.

There was a buzzword popular about 鸡(jī): 鸡肋(jīlèi) which means chicken ribs. 肋(lèi) is ribs. Chicken ribs works as nothing for food materials. Therefore, this word refers to things of little value or interest.

There’s something else that says bad words about Roosters. Due to the similar pronunciation with 妓(jì) ---- prostitute, 鸡(jī) nowadays became the name for prostitutes. 做鸡(zuòjī) is to work as a prostitute. And 召鸡(zhàojī) is to call for a prostitute.

Anyway, Chinese culture considers鸡(jī) a coward, useless and weak image, not so positive. However, among different kinds of meat Chinese people prefer Chicken meat. See how popular fried Chicken is in China!

Chinese Mandarin got a plenty of four-character idioms about zodiac animal of this year. Let’s find out some interesting ones.

杀鸡儆猴 (shājījǐnghóu) - Killing the chicken to scare the monkey.

This is an idiom refers to punishing someone as a warning to others. This “someone” sacrificing is usually innocent, weak and not as clever as others.

鸡飞狗跳 (jīfēigǒutiào) - Chicken flying, dog jumping.

This refers to a turmoil. By the way, dog is not a positive image in Chinese culture, either.

呆若木鸡 (dāiruòmùjī) - Dumb as a wooden chicken.

It is used to describe someone paralyzed with fear.


他吓得呆若木鸡。(tā xià de dāiruòmùjī)

Terror rooted him to the ground.

Ordering food has always been a typical skill living in a different country. Eating out in China, it’s necessary that you master the language for ordering food. Check out the video lesson which may help you with that.

Core Vocabulary:

  • 欢迎光临(huānyínɡ ɡuānɡlín) - welcome
  • 位(wèi) - measure word for people
  • 几位(jǐ wèi) - how many people
  • 这边(zhèbiān) - this way
  • 点(diǎn) - to order(v.)/point(n.)/some
  • 点菜(diǎncài) - order food
  • 菜单(càidān) - menu
  • 单(dān) - list/sheet/bill
  • 来一个(lái yí gè) - bring one…(for ordering food)
  • 特色(tèsè) - characteristic
  • 特色菜(tèsècài) - special dish
  • 打包(dǎbāo) - pack

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