And so, apparently, do sheep


Starting from Feb. 19 is the Year of the Goat. At least it is in Vietnam. But as I search trustworthy Google for information on what 2015 will have in store, I discover that apparently it’s also the Year of the Sheep. Or possibly even the Year of the Ram. Although in Vietnam, it’s goats 24/24.


I don’t get it. Sheep and goats are different animals, right? Well, their Latin names are certainly different — sheep are ovis aries while domesticated goats are very definitely capra aegagrus hircus. And while sheep have the pleasure of an entry into the western astrological system as the star sign Aries, goats just don’t quite figure. But they do in Vietnam.


So what year exactly are we heading into?


I decide to search for some Wikipedia truths — yes, we trust in our friend Wikipedia. According to them we are entering the Year of the Goat. Sorry guys, rams and sheep are not on the agenda.


I read on.


In both Vietnamese and Chinese astrology, there are five elements — fire, earth, metal, water and wood. This year goats are wooden. Which means that any child born in 2015 will love peace and be helpful and trusting. Yet, says our online guru, they will also be ‘clinging’, and by nature resistant to change.


But this is not the answer I’m looking for. What I really want to know is what Vietnam’s Year of the Goat has in store. Will these depressing times finally become a little less depressing? And why the sheep and the rams?


Beyond Wikipedia


According to the website, another arbiter of truth with a high ranking on Google, this year is going to be one of the most important years in years. Says the digital sage:


Many astrologists conclude from the conditions of 2015 that the processes that have been unfolding and spreading chaos for the past few years are finally wrapping up; both political and economic situations in the world are starting to stabilise.


Okay, this is good. So, Ukraine, IS, Palestine, Israel, ebola, recessions and the general madness gripping the world right now are all going to start finding some conclusions. I can live with that. Continues the SEO favourite: “There have never been this many signs and favourable planetary aspects confirming the positive nature of the upcoming changes — we simply can’t ignore these signs.”


The Local Angle


I decide to get a Vietnamese take on all this and my first port of call is People born under the goat sign, it tells us, are artistic and “blessed with an immense talent for creative endeavours”. Goats are also known for their “levelheadedness” and their ability to be “even-tempered”. They are also not easily stressed, too. Not even a mention of sheep.


After entering more search phrases I finally get some success when I stumble on According to this website, the reason for the confusion is the Chinese word yáng. Meaning “a ruminant mammal, generally with horns on its head”, there are many types of yáng including shãnyáng (goat), miányáng (sheep) and língyáng (gazelle).


In other words, goats, sheep and antelopes are all different types of yáng. This is unequivocally the Year of the Yáng. It’s a linguistic issue.
Says the website: “The Japanese, Koreans and Vietnamese have all borrowed the Chinese zodiac and use it to name the years. What is more, both Japanese and Vietnamese have separate words for sheep and goats, which means that they must make a choice: Is the zodiac animal a sheep or a goat?”


Probably because Vietnam doesn’t have sheep, a clear choice has been made. This year is unequivocally the Year of the Goat.


Let’s just hope it’s a good one. — Nick Ross

Nick Ross

Chief editor and co-founder of Word Vietnam, Nick Ross was born in the humble city of London before moving to the less humble climes of Vietnam. His wanderings have taken him to definitely not enough corners of the globe, but being a constant optimist, he still has hopes.


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