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24 solar terms for quick interpreting

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立春 start of Spring
雨水 2nd solar term
驚蟄 3rd solar term
春分 Spring equinox
清明 5th solar term
谷雨 6th solar term
立夏 start of Summer
小滿 8th solar term
芒種 9th solar term
夏至 Summer solstice
小暑 11th solar term
大暑 12th solar term
立秋 start of Autumn
處暑 14th solar term
白露 15th solar term
秋分 Autumn equinox
寒露 17th solar term
霜降 18th solar term
立冬 start of Winter
小雪 20th solar term
大雪 21st solar term
冬至 Winter solstice
小寒 23rd solar term
大寒 24th solar term



in my endeavor to watch 新聞聯播 every day, the announcement of today being 小寒, I realised although I knew what the anchor meant, I couldn't give a concise interpretation on the spot. Just wrote out this list, thought it might be useful reference for others. Please feel free to share if you think more literal translations are appropriate (eg. 清明 "tomb sweeping')

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1 minute ago, Tomsima said:

17th solar term

I'm not a fan of numbering the solar terms.

Someone who isn't familiar with Chinese culture will have no clue what this means.

Someone who is familiar with the 24 solar terms will need to do mental gymnastics in order to reverse translate to a period of the year.

How about "the fortnight following the Autumn equinox" ?


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Very much agree on the awkwardness of numbering, I just couldn't think of anything which would make the listener feel they weren't getting a 'proper' interpretation as it were.


Interesting idea using fortnight, I still feel like this might make an English listener at a loss as to what the news anchor is talking about. Eg. todays opening:


Todays date is the 5th of January 2019, the 30th of November in the lunar calendar. Today marks the beginning of the 23rd solar term in the lunar calendar.





...Today is the fortnight following the Winter solstice (true, but why are you giving me this information? Is there a news item relating to this coming up?)

...Today it is "slight cold". (obviously no comment needed as to why this might be confusing)



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Well, if the context explicitly mentions the 24 solar terms, it's different from just "小寒" by itself.


How about: Today marks the beginning of the fortnight known as "slight cold" in the lunar calendar.


Edit: called => known as

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45 minutes ago, Tomsima said:


Today is Saturday, January 5th 2019, the 30th day of the 11th month in the lunar calendar. Today is the second last of the 24 solar terms in a year.


It’s not “November 30th” in the lunar calendar. That doesn’t make any sense. Also if you’re worried about people who don’t know what 節期 are, you need to explain there are 24 in a year, just as they did in the source text.

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Thanks for the input. I know you're in this industry so good to know, was waiting here to get called out on "november 30th'. Just to be clear, the above is just a transcript of my simultaneous interpretation, so it was bound to be lacking. Missing out Saturday was an error, good catch. Using November for 11月 is technically incorrect, but I was trying to tailor to an audience that might feel it sounded a bit strange to say the 11th month. Maybe I'm underestimating my audience...

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I see some of those terms, especially the springtime ones, used in discussions of tea, when to harvest this or that variety. 

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There are (now) "standard" English translations, as the 24 solar terms were inscribed into UNESCO's list of "Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity".


Beginning of Spring,
Rain Water,
Insects Awakening,
Spring Equinox,
Fresh Green,
Grain Rain,
Beginning of Summer,
Lesser Fullness,
Grain in Ear,
Summer Solstice,
Lesser Heat,
Greater Heat,
Beginning of Autumn,
End of Heat,
White Dew,
Autumnal Equinox,
Cold Dew,
First Frost,
Beginning of Winter,
Light Snow,
Heavy Snow,
Winter Solstice,
Lesser Cold,
Greater Cold.

I can't exactly agree with all these translations into English though.


I disagree 清明 is "tomb sweeping" - that's a derivation (possibly a euphemism?) for the Cold Food Festival. Literally it would be, well, the "Clear and Bright".

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