The youngest roosters were born between 9th February 2005 and 28th January 2006. In China people born under this sign are considered to be deep thinkers. Roosters are also said to be honest, bright, communicative, ambitious, capable and warm-hearted.
On the negative side roosters may have a hot temper. Whilst they are positive, roosters may be selfish, caustic and outspoken. They can also be narrow-minded and vain. Indeed, rather than listening to advice and suggestions, they are more likely to lecture others. However, should they overcome such arrogance they are likely to progress in their business and other pursuits.
There are several well known roosters. Amongst them are the singers Britney Spears and singer songwriter Elton John. Russian tennis player Anna Kournikova is a rooster as is Amelia Earhart, the American aviation pioneer and first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.
Famous rooster actors include Jennifer Aniston, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon and Peter Ustinov.
World leaders have included Yekaterina Alexeevna or Catherine II, also known as Catherine the Great, Li Longji (Emperor Xuanzong of China’s Tang Dynasty 618 - 907), and Zhuge Liang (Premier of Shu in China’s Three Kingdoms Period 220 - 280).
The simplified character for rooster is 鸡, pronounced Jī, and may apply to a chicken or other fowl. The more ornate traditional character is 雞 or 鷄.
The Rooster is not so highly prized in Western culture. But in China roosters are considered emblems of high rank and well wishes. Roosters are thought to ward off evil as their crow marks the daybreak, ending the night and chasing away its shadows and evil spirits.
The image of the rooster also features in much Chinese art, from ornate paper cuttings to paintings and ceramics.
The rooster also features in many popular sayings, idioms or phrases. One well known idiom in China is jī máo suàn pí (鸡毛蒜皮) which translates as “chicken feather, garlic skin” but is used to describe something as unimportant or trivial.
Should one wish to describe something as a dead loss one might say jī fēi dàn dǎ (鸡飞蛋打) which roughly translates as “the chicken has flown away and the eggs are all broken.” It can also infer that one has come out of a situation empty handed.
Another idiom referring to eggs is shā jī qǔ luǎn (杀鸡取卵) which translates as “kill the chicken to get all its eggs.” It is used to describe someone seeking only immediate gain, but with the risk of losing everything.
Sometimes it is translated as “kill the chicken to get all the golden eggs” though the word for gold is not part of the phrase. Indeed the breakdown is as follows.
Shā (杀) means to kill, jī (鸡) means chicken, qǔ (取) means to get and luǎn (卵) means ovum, but in this phrase is used to mean egg. The phrase also features in a popular Chinese children’s story in which a couple acquire a hen that lays a golden egg every day. They become rich but believing the hen must contain many golden eggs they kill the chicken in order to remove all the eggs. But alas, on killing and cutting open the chicken no eggs were to be found. The English term for the same phrase refers to the goose that lays golden eggs and again is used to describe an unprofitable action motivated by greed. It is believed to originate from one of Aesop's Fables which were written between 620 and 560 BC. The origins of the Chinese phrase are unclear.
The husband and wife in this story must have found themselves surprised to the point of being dumbstruck. Indeed one could apply the phrase dāi ruò mù jī (呆若木鸡) which literally translates as “dumb as a wooden chicken”.
Individuals who are narrow-minded or display extreme pettiness in their character could meanwhile be said to have a “little belly chicken intestine” or xiǎo dù jī cháng (小肚鸡肠).
Those of greater importance might on the other hand be referred to as a crane standing among chickens or hè lì jī qún (鹤立鸡群). More simply put, it describes someone who stands head and shoulders above others or stands out in a crowd.
Back on the subject of dispatching chickens is the phrase shā jī yān yòng niú dāo (杀鸡焉用牛刀). Literally it means “Why use an ox cleaver to kill a chicken?” and questions why one might make a big effort for a small job. An English equivalent might be the idiom “to use a musket to shoot butterflies,” or “using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.”
On a final note, be careful how you use the word Jī (鸡). Repeating the word twice doesn’t mean “chicken, chicken”, as it would in English. Saying it twice in Chinese, jī jī (鸡鸡), is in fact a casual term, often used by children, to mean penis or ‘willy’!
That’s it for today. Next time we discuss the dog…