Popular Words-猪流感 zhū liú gǎn (Swine flu), 牛 niú (Great)

猪流感 (Zhūliúgǎn)

In the past few months, the H1N1 virus has made news headlines around the world. The virus was originally referred as 猪流感(zhūliúgǎn) “swine flu.” To help you learn these three Chinese characters, we’ll introduce 猪流感(zhūliúgǎn) word by word.

With the basic meaning of “pig,” “boar” or “swine,” 猪(zhū) conveys a deep cultural connotation in Chinese. 猪(zhū) is on the list of animals in the Chinese Zodiac, a system that uses twelve animals to designate years according to the Chinese lunar calendar. Therefore, the Chinese have attributed the word 猪(zhū) with many auspicious meanings. People have always believed that the 猪(zhū) can bring forth plentiful harvest and happiness.

流感(liú gǎn) is the abbreviation of 流行性感冒(liúxíngxìng gǎnmào) “flu, influenza.” In this context, 流感(liú gǎn), 流(liú) can be understood as “being infectious” or “to spread.” 感(gǎn) is the shortened form of 感冒(gǎn mào), which means “catch a cold.”


What does this word mean?

The original meaning of 牛(niú) is “cow,” but has another popular meaning. Now 牛(niú) also means “cool” or “excellent.” It is said that this additional meaning originated from the north-eastern Chinese dialect.

How do you use the word?

You can say “你好牛啊”(nĭ hǎo niú ā) or “真牛”(zhēn niú) to express your praise to others. So there are many circumstances for you to use this word. For example, if your friend has won the championship title in a competition, you can give him/her thumbs up and say “你好牛啊!” (nĭ hǎo niú ā) or “真牛!” (zhēn niú) to express “You are really excellent!”

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