Can Anyone Help with the Translation of a Taiwanese Rhyme?

We received an email asking for help with a translation to the rhyme from Taiwan below. After the original rhyme you can see what I’ve come up with so far for a translation.

一鼠贼子名,
二牛驶犁兄。
三虎山崎岖,
四兔游东京。
五龙皇帝命,
六蛇受人惊。
七马跑兵营,
八羊吃草岭。
九猴爬树头,
十鸡啼三声。
十一狗吠客兄,
十二猪菜刀命。

English Translation:

A rat named thief
Two ox drive a plow.
Three tigers on rugged hill,
Four rabbits visit Tokyo.
Five Dragon Emperor,
Who was surprised by six snakes.
Seven horses ran to the barracks,
Eight sheep graze on the range.
9 monkeys climb on the tree stump,
10 cocks crow three times.
11 yelps brother,
12 pigs knife life.

I’m not sure what that last line means!

This rhyme seems to be recited for the Year of the Rat.

If anyone can help improve the translation, please let us know in the comments below.

Thanks!

Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Sunday, September 4th, 2011 at 8:31 am and is filed under Cantonese, China, Chinese, Chinese New Year, Countries & Cultures, Holidays Around the World, Languages, Mama Lisa, Nursery Rhymes, Questions, Taiwan. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Can Anyone Help with the Translation of a Taiwanese Rhyme?”

  1. tjpete Says:

    Hi Mama Lisa,

    This rhyme tells children what their “bad” fate will be if they were born under a certain zodiac sign, so the rat will be known as a thief, the ox will spend a lifetime under a yoke … And the general meaning of the last line is, the fate of a pig is a carving knife … I was born in the Year of the Pig, so …

  2. Lisa Says:

    Thanks for sharing that info! It’s really much more interesting knowing that. Cheers! Mama Lisa

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