2017: The Year of the…Cock?

Chinese New Year 2017

This year is jī nián 鸡年 (the year of the chicken) although it could actually be the year of the rooster. Chinese friends less proficient in English might even mistakenly say it’s the year of the “cock”. That mistake shouldn’t be too difficult to explain though because the same play on meaning exists in Mandarin. jī jī 鸡鸡 (chicken chicken) means penis, as does jī ba 鸡巴 (which includes the character for “chicken”). jī jī sounds a bit childish, whereas jī ba sounds a bit cruder.

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If the phrase “year of the cock” makes you laugh in a childish way, you’ll probably be amused to hear that is also a slang word for prostitute. This might be partly due to the fact that in China it’s common to get around internet censorship by using characters with a similar pronunciation to the less acceptable word you really want to write. The phrase zhāo jì 招妓 (hire a prostitute) therefore becomes zhǎo jī 找鸡 (find a chicken) in slang Chinese. Another variation is jiào jī 叫鸡 (call a chicken).

This could, hypothetically, lead to many puns. I’ll leave it to your imaginations. If you’re a bit more sensible and interested in how to distinguish the male, female and baby forms of animals click here.

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