For there is not a corresponding festival of Duan Wu Jie (端午节) in western world, a discussion about how to translate the name which colored with strong Chinese culture is bound to emerge as China strives to explore the outside world.
As the festival is approaching, it is just like a drop of water into the placidness of our lives, which causes ripples. Now let me introduce you into the fascinating world of languages and learn more about something related to Duan Wu Jie.
As far as I concern, the most common translation is “Dragon Boat Festival”. Besides, we would come across “Duan Wu Festival”,”Double Fifth Festival” and “Patriotic Day”.
“Dragon Boat Festival”
Traditions At the center of this festival are the dragon boat races. Competing teams drive their colorful dragon boats forward to the rhythm of beating drums. As we can see, this translation just reflects one aspect, which is how people try to celebrate the day. Tzung Tzu (粽子) , Ay Tsao (艾草) and Scent Bag (香囊) are all symbols of the Festival. Yet, Dragon Boat Festival seems to be widely accepted.
“Duan Wu Festival”
It is simply transliterated. In my mind, though hard for foreigners to understand, it conveys a message that the Festival is unique to China and would kindle their interests over it and then over Chinese culture.
“Double Fifth Festival”
It is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar. The version shows the exact time of the festival, yet is deprived of all the cultural indication.
With its purpose of commemorating the patriot, Chu Yuan (屈原), some maintain the Festival should express the core meaning. Therefore they pick up this name.
A careful interpretation of the above translation versions only tells us a fact that to translate without losing anything original is impossible. But there must be some tasks we could handle if we follow Skopos Theory (目的论), which holds that translation has a purpose. The purpose determines translation methods and strategies that are employed in order to produce a functionally adequate result. Hence, what’s your purpose? And then it would be easy to select a suitable translation.