Abstract:Culture and language are inseparable: as a part of the culture, language is not only the carrier and expression form of language, but also the important means to the cultural transmission and inheritance. Idiom is the essence of language as well as the prime of a nation’s civilization and culture. There are abundant idioms in both Chinese and English. Idiom is concise in structure, but meaningful and expressive, reflecting the uniqueness of a nation and its distinctive cultural connotation. The Chinese and English idioms have similarities, but more differences which mirror the different cultures.
Human beings and animals coexist in the world, and closely connected with each other. Therefore, people use the idioms with animals frequently. Idioms with animals are important components of idioms. The Chinese Zodiac is a typical representative of Chinese culture. However, these twelve animals each has different meaning in Chinese and western cultures. In this article, the twelve animals are divided into three groups, according to their similarities and differences of idioms in Chinese and western cultural connotations: 1. same animal idioms having similar connotations in Chinese and western cultures, including鼠—Rat，蛇—Snake，猴—Monkey，鸡—Cock，猪—Pig; 2. same animal idioms having different connotations in Chinese and western cultures: 兔—Hare & Rabbit，龙—Dragon，羊—Sheep，狗—Dog；3. different animal idioms having similar connotations:牛—Horse，虎—Lion. Besides the literal meanings, the idioms of each animal contain the rich cultural information. This article aims to clarify the religious, historical, and geographical differences hidden behind the idioms with animals by a comparative study of the connotations of both Chinese and English idioms with animals and the reasons which cause the differences.
Key words: idioms with animals, Chinese Zodiac, western culture, Chinese culture, difference
人类与动物相依共存，有着非常密切的联系。因此，动物习语的使用率极高，是习语语言重要的组成部分。其中，十二生肖的概念是中国文化的典型代表。但是，这十二个动物在中西方的含义不尽相同。本文将十二生肖动物根据其中英文习语在中西文化中内涵的异同，分为三类：1.相同的动物在中西文化中具有相同或相似的文化内涵，包括鼠—Rat，蛇—Snake，猴—Monkey，鸡—Cock，猪—Pig；2.相同的动物在中西文化中具有不同的文化内涵，例如：兔—Hare & Rabbit，龙—Dragon，羊—Sheep，狗—Dog；3.不同的动物具有相似的文化内涵：牛—Horse，虎—Lion。每个动物习语词除了具有字面意义外，还有丰富的文化信息。本文通过对中英文十二生肖习语内涵的比较,进一步探究产生内涵差异的原因，了解隐藏其背后的，在宗教、历史、地理等方面的差异。