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Chinese Words with That’s Mandarin: Meats

I’m happy to be able to bring you another short beginner’s lesson courtesy of That’s Mandarin.

Today we’ll be learning some common carnivorous meat eating words (or just animal words if you are a vegetarian! Sorry!)

That’s Mandarin have kindly provided these beautiful pictures to introduce some really important Chinese characters. You’ll see these characters a lot on menus in China so they are very important.

Each graphic has a short mnemonic (memory aid) to help you remember how to pronounce the word, which is super useful!

If you like these images make sure you share them with other people you think might find them useful and check out That’s Mandarin for more useful Chinese learning content.

Chinese Words with Thats Mandarin: Meats

Chinese Words with Thats Mandarin: MeatsOur first character today is “jī”. In Mandarin, “jī” sounds similar to the English word ‘gee’ and means "chicken".



Chinese people often consider chickens to be quite stupid. For this reason, many expressions use ‘jī’ 鸡 to describe ignorance or disappointment such as “jīfēi dàn dǎ” (鸡飞蛋打) meaning the chicken has flown the coop and the eggs have broken (all is lost).

China has many delicious chicken dishes such as ‘kung pao chicken’, a spicy stir-fried dish of chicken, peanuts, chili peppers and vegetables. The Chinese name for kung pao chicken is gōng bǎo jīdīng (宫保鸡丁).
The next character is “niú”. In Mandarin, “niú” sounds like new. “Niu” can be associated with the ox, cow, bull or cattle.



Chinese people have mixed feelings towards this animal. On the one hand, Chinese people sometimes believe cows are stubborn and stupid. This is because there is a famous Chinese expression called “duì niú tán qín(对牛弹琴). It literally means that it is useless to play the guitar in front of an ox.
In other words, no matter how good your skills are, the ox can’t understand the sound at all.
Chinese Words with Thats Mandarin: Meats
Chinese Words with Thats Mandarin: Meats"yā” which means duck". A duckling is called “xiǎo yá” 小鸭。 Female or mother ducks are called 母鸭 while drakes are called “gōng yá” 公鸭.



Have you heard of Peking Duck? Bēijīng kǎoyā(北京烤鸭). Prized for its thin, crispy skin, this dish is one of China’s as well as Beijing’s most well known dishes. When you visit Beijing, you must try this dish!

To try to make somebody do something beyond his/her means is known as “driving a duck onto a perch” gǎn yāzi shàng jià(赶鸭子上架).
Next up is “yáng”. Confusingly “Yáng” and can mean goat, ram and sheep, hence the confusion over whether it is the Year of the Sheep, Year of the Ram or Year of the Goat when translated into English.



Did you know that #Guangzhou 广州, a city in the south of China, is also known as the City of (Five Goats) yáng chéng羊城 or wǔ yáng 五羊。The name comes from the legend of the five gods who rode on five goats, bringing grain to the city for the first time.

This year is yáng nián 羊年 or Year of the Ram/Goat/Sheep/whatever...

To carry out falsely advertise or cheat is known as yáng tóu gǒu ròu 羊头狗肉. The expression literally translates as "hanging a sheep’s head while selling dog meat”.
Chinese Words with Thats Mandarin: Meats
Chinese Words with Thats Mandarin: MeatsDo you remember the song “Row row row your boat, gently down the stream”?

Then this picture will erase that beautiful memory when you hum this song. Don't blame me, because in Mandarin, “ròu” means meat and sounds similar to “row” in English.



To make the names of various meat (beef, mutton, pork etc.) we simply add the name of the animal to the front of 肉. Much simpler than English!

So using the characters above we have:
鸡肉 = chicken meat
牛肉 = beef
鸭肉 = duck meat
羊肉 = mutton

We’ll have more graphics like this coming up so be sure to follow us on Twitter / Facebook to keep up to date.