This is the year of Ji (雞). In English, it's been translated into rooster, chicken, cock, chick, etc. We are referring to the same animal after all: “Gallus gallus domesticus”, to be precise.

Being one of the zodiac signs, it shows the important positions of chicken in our lives since ancient times. In Chinese, we can find an impressive collection of idioms that contain the word 雞. Being a colourful and rich dialect, Cantonese has quite a few of such idioms and nouns. Most of them may not have much to do with chicken at all. Have you heard of these?

田雞

chicken in the field: frog (as served in French cuisine)

走雞

run away chicken: to miss an opportunity

落湯雞

chicken fallen into the soup: wet through, soaked (such as when caught in a thunder shower without an umbrella)

偷雞

to steal a chicken: to take advantage, to avoid responsibility

二撇雞

2 stroke chicken: moustache

雞腸

chicken intestine: English scrawls

吹雞

to blow the chicken: to blow the whistle

銀雞

silver chicken: silver whistle

雞眼

chick eye: calluses that grow on the outer side of our pinky toes

珍珠雞

pearl chicken: a dim-sum dish, sticky rice filled with diced chicken and wrapped in a lotus leaf. Traditionally, it was called 糯米雞 (sticky rice and chicken). Some 20 years ago, when it was modernised and reduced to about ⅓ of its traditional size, this new name was created.

捉黃腳雞

to catch a yellow feet chicken: a sex trap to “catch” a man, often used in politics. Usually, female chickens are used in cooking. Twice a month (on new moon’s day and full moon’s day), Chinese make offerings during worship. Cocks, whose feet are yellow, are required for such offerings. The clever farmers would use a female chicken to tempt the cockerel in order to catch it. From this, the idiom was developed.

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Posted in English, 語文閒話.

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