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Cantonese vocabulary: Animals

This list will never be complete or that well organized but here it is and I’ll keep adding to it as new words come into our purview.

We were at the Aquarium today – birthday treat! – and besides things I should be able to translate for him, the marvelous marine diversity of that institution, there were the ones I had fun with literal translations, like porcupine fish, surgeon fish, angelfish, doctor fish, etc. At least I can literally translate those!

Cantoneses name for animals

EnglishChinese charactersPronunciationNotes
Domestic and farm animals (農場動物)
dog gau2in baby-speak: 貓貓
cowngau4in baby-speak: 狗仔
chickengai1in baby-speak: 雞仔
* hen母雞mou5 gai1
* rooster公雞gung1 gai1
horsemaa5in baby-speak: 馬仔
Woodland mammals (森林動物)
* grizzly bear大灰熊daai6 fui1 hung4big grey bear
* polar bear北極熊bak1 gik6 hung4North Pole bear
* koala樹熊syu6 hung4tree bear
* panda熊貓hung4 maau1bear cat
beaver海貍hoi2 lei4"sea fox"
fox狐狸wu4 lei4*2"woo lay"
* moose大鹿daai6 luk6*2
* reindeer馴鹿seon4 luk6/6*2tamed deer - useful at Christmas time!
goat山羊saan1 joeng4mountain goat
porcupine箭豬zin3 zyu1arrow pig
squirrel鬆鼠sung1 syu2loose mouse
frog青蛙cing1 waa1green frog
kangaroo袋鼠doi6 syu2pocket mouse
chipmunk花鼠faa1 syu2flower mouse
squirrel栗鼠leot6 syu2chesnut mouse
raccoon浣熊wun5 hung4
skunk臭鼬cau3 jau6stinky-yao
Jungle animals (叢林動物)
giraffe長頸鹿coeng4 geng2 luk6*2long-necked deer
tiger老虎lou5 fu2old tiger
lion獅子si1 zi2
leopard花豹faa1 paau3"flower panther"
cheetah獵豹lip6 paau3"hunting panther"
jaguar捷豹zit6 paau3"swift panther"
lizard鹽蛇jim4 se4"salt snake"
* chameleon變色龍bin3 sik1 lung4"color changing dragon"
elephant大笨象daai6 ban6 zoeng6big clumsy elephant
monkey馬騮maa5 lau4*1
* gorilla大猩猩daai6 sing1 sing1sounds like "big star star"
* chimpanzee黑猩猩haak1 sing1 sing1sounds like "black star star"
* orangutan紅毛猩猩hung4 mou4 sing1 sing1"red fur 'star star'"
zebra斑馬baan1 maa5
crocodile / alligator鱷魚ngok6 jyu4
hippopotamus河馬ho4 maa5river horse - omgosh I was calling it a 水牛 ("water cow"), which is actually water buffalo
rhinoceros犀牛sai1 ngau4"sei gnao", sounds like "west cow"
Birds and flying animals
bird zoek3
pigeon白鴿baak6 gap3I thought it was yuu-鴿 and mum knew that was WRONG
crow / raven烏鴉wu1 aa1
seagull海鷗hoi2 au1"sea gull"
owl貓頭鷹maau1 tau4 jing1"cat-face eagle"
bat蝙蝠pin1 fuk1
飛鼠 fei1 syu2"flying mouse" although bats are not rodents
parrot鸚鵡jing1 mou5
penguin企鵝kei5 ngo4*2"standing goose"
Fish and marine animals
dolphin海豚hoi2 tyun4"ocean suckling pig"
whale鯨魚filter? fish
orca / killer whale殺人鯨saat3 jan4 king4"kill person whale"
narwhal獨角鯨duk6 gok3 king4solo horned whale
seal海豹hoi2 paau3"ocean panther"
sea lion海獅hoi2 si1"ocean lion"
walrus海象hoi2 zoeng6"ocean elephant"
sea otter海獺hoi2 caat3
sea urchin海膽hoi2 daam2"ocean gallbladder"
puffer fish河豚ho4 tyun4"river suckling pig"
sting ray鯆魚pou1 jyu4*2
beaver海狸hoi2 lei4"sea fox"
turtle烏龜wu1 gwai1
salamander娃娃魚waa1 waa1 jyu4*2not hard to learn, but probably not so technical
Insects and bugs
bee蜜蜂honey bee
wasp黃蜂wong4 fung1"yellow"
野蜂je5 fung1"wild"
cockroach曱甴hope this one isn't useful ever but what cool characters!
fly烏蠅dark/dirty fly
caterpillar毛蟲mou4 cung4"hairy worm"
ladybug甲蟲(finger)nail bug - same word for beetle
dragonfly蜻蜓cing1 ting4
worm蠕蟲crawling bug
snail蝸牛snail cow
Extinct animals
* stegosaurus劍龍gim3 lung4"sword dragon"
* tyrannosaurus rex暴龍bou6 lung4"cruel dragon"
* triceratops三角(恐)龍saam1 gok3 (hung2) lung4three-horned dragon/dinosaur
* brontosaurus雷龍leoi4 lung4"thunder dragon"
Fantasy animals
monster怪物gwaai3 mat6"strange animal"
unicorn麒麟"kay leun" - like the Vancouver restaurant!