China and Western countries may have different cultural beliefs about certain animals, but when it comes to pigs, we have somehow reached an agreement – that pigs are ugly, lazy, stupid and shameless.
中国和西方国家对于某些动物或许会有不同的文化观点，但双方在对猪的看法上却达成了一致 —— 猪都是丑陋、懒惰、愚笨而无耻的。
Just look at the idioms and phrases in our languages. In Chinese, we have the likes of “Boiling a dead pig”, and “A pig looking in the mirror is still a pig”. And in English, there are expressions such as “eating like a pig” and “sweating like a pig”. None of them are exactly complimentary.
看看我们语言中的一些习语和短语就明白了。中文里，我们有“死猪不怕开水烫”、“猪八戒照镜子”等说法。而英文里则有“eating like a pig”（狼吞虎咽）、“sweating like a pig”（汗如雨下）等表达。这些都和赞美搭不上边儿。
But the truth is that pigs do have some finer qualities. And there’s probably no better time to clear their names than now, with the arrival of the Year of the Pig on Chinese Spring Festival, which falls on Feb 5 this year.
For starters, science long ago proved that pigs aren’t stupid at all. According to a paper published in 2017 in the International Journal of Comparative Psychology, pigs are “mentally and socially similar to dogs and chimpanzees”. They like to play. They have good long-term memories. And they know the difference between those who treat them well and those who don’t.
There are lovable pig characters in cartoons too. Peppa Pig, for example, a UK animated television series that began in 2004, has now become one of the most popular cartoons in 180 countries and regions. The four members in the cartoon’s pig family teach children from all around the world about love, friendship, and the value of family. And in China, the adventures of McDull, a piglet who works hard toward his dreams even though he keeps failing, have been recounted in films since 2001.
“People are putting too much emphasis on efficiency and immediate results, but McDull is slow and patient, and not afraid of repeated failures,” said McDull’s creator Brian Tse when she was promoting the 2009 film McDull, Kung Fu Ding Ding Dong in Beijing. “He has a heart of gold.”
Perhaps these are the qualities of pigs to keep in mind when we celebrate this Chinese New Year – their intelligence, cuteness, patience and innocence.
我们今年在庆祝农历新年时，或许应该将猪的这些品质铭记在心 —— 它们的聪明、可爱、耐心以及纯真。
(Translator & Editor: Wang Xingwei AND Ji Yuan)