Ninchanese Blog

Tips and tricks to help you learn Chinese


Year of the goat or year of the sheep?

羊年 is coming! The Chinese New Year celebrations are starting soon, and you might be asking yourself a crucial question: Are we entering the year of the goat or the year of the sheep? Or is it the year of the ram?
You’ve probably seen all three in posts and illustrations, so we understand you could be puzzled. Here’s what you need to know.

Happy Horned ruminating mammal year!

羊 in Chinese has a fairly broad meaning, and is a generic term for “various horned ruminating mammals”. Helpful, huh? As 羊 covers the whole “goat, sheep, ram” category and both male and female species, there’s no perfect translation in English for the new Lunar year we’re entering, 羊年.

In fact, different nationalities use different terms: the Chinese are rumored to use mostly sheep, and sometimes ram, the Koreans say “Year of the ram” and the Vietnamese mostly use “The Year of the Goat”. That being said, even within a nationality, there’s no real consensus on what to use.

It’s a matter of personal choice

So here’s what we suggest:
Year of the ram, year of the goat, year of the sheep, year of the “羊”… Just pick the one you like best and have a wonderful lunar year celebration!

P.S: If you’re wondering what a ram is, like I was, it’s a un-castrated male sheep.
So, it’s usually more associated with males. But then, again, it’s all a matter of personal choice!

Ninchanese makes learning Chinese a blast by combining addictive game mechanics, cute cats and efficient Chinese learning techniques! There’s even a dragon. The app is now in beta so sign up now for early access to the betaCheck out our trailer and stay in touch with us on FacebookTwitterGoogle + and Weibo.

NinchaneseYear of the goat or year of the sheep?