Starfruit and running dogs: celebrating the Lantern Festival with Chinese word games

Even though much of the world has adopted the Gregorian calendar, which is based on movement of the sun, many traditional cultures still observe lunar calendars, which are based on movement of the
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Even though much of the world has adopted the Gregorian calendar, which is based on movement of the sun, many traditional cultures still observe lunar calendars, which are based on movement of the moon. The beginning of the Chinese lunar year this time fell on 19 February of the Gregorian calendar. Fifteen days later, at the first full moon of the lunar year (on 5 March this year), people celebrate the Lantern Festival, a literal translation of ‘dēnghùi’ 灯会 or ‘dēngjié’ 灯节 in Chinese. In Chinese culture, there is also the tradition of grouping years in cycles of twelve, associating each year in the cycle with an animal in following order: mouse, cow, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, chicken, dog, and pig. So a girl born this lunar year would ‘belong’ to the Year of the Sheep; in Chinese, she would ‘shŭ yáng’ 属羊 (literally translated: ‘belong sheep.’) Chinese is a tone language, so the diacritics in ‘ŭ’ and in ‘á’ in these two words indicate the tones that must be. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Linguistics

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