Happy Chinese New Year! Year of the goat? sheep?

CNY2015-UKA lot of people are confused by what animal represents 2015 in the Chinese zodiac. Is it a goat? Is it a ram? Is it a sheep?

The answer is yes…to all three!

The Mandarin Chinese word yáng (羊 ) refers to both goat and sheep, which is where the confusion lies, so you could be forgiven for not knowing which animal you should be celebrating! In Vietnamese, it is unmistakably mui, which can only mean goat and in Japan the sign is hitsuji, which is sheep.  So it really depends where you are!  It also seems like it’s easier to sell cute toys and gifts of sheep rather than a goat!

There are a couple of other words that have a double meaning in Mandarin, including:

裙子 qúnzi, which can mean skirt or dress
电梯 diàntī, which can mean elevator or escalator, which could be very confusing!

Are there any other words you can think of in Mandarin or another language which have a double meaning that people could get confused with?

Gong Xi Fa Cai! 恭喜發財!

Celebrate Chinese New Year with trying our free Mandarin demo!



Kim is the Social Media Specialist for Europe at Rosetta Stone. She is from the UK but spent time growing up in Burma, Morocco, Thailand and Hong Kong. She loves travel and has just started learning Spanish with Rosetta Stone. If you want to learn a language too, try a free Rosetta Stone demo.

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