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This text is talking about 苗族人酷爱银饰。

When I look up 载体 I find things I don't really understand, like: vector, carrier. I find: 用来承载软体的媒介。

银饰早已不是单纯的装饰品,而是植根于苗族社会生活的文化载体。

I'd like to translate 文化载体 as 'cultural identity'.

Does anyone have a better suggestion, please?

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  • How about "vessel" a curved container that is used to hold liquid/ a person who has a particular quality or who is used for a particular purpose:
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Nov 29, 2019 at 1:06

5 Answers 5

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how about: 文化载体 'cultural carrier' or 'cultural media'.

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The answer you're not going to like:

Cultural Carrier does seem to be a bit of a neologism in English.


The concept does appear to be a bit of a big idea in Inuit-related cultures; see:


In Chinese there also looks to be a related phrase: 企业文化载体. This seems to be quite well represented in English; see:


Relating Chinese culture in this way is a bit curious, but the idea of items so deeply ingrained to culture that they can represent it is likewise quite fascinating.

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载体 (n) - medium; vehicle; physical form that carries knowledge or information.

Ex:

  • 语言作为文化的载体,是非常重要的。- Language, as the carrier of culture, is very important.

  • 语言是信息的载体。- Languages are the carriers of information.

From the explanation, we can conclude that "文化载体 = culture carrier", and the sentence "植根于苗族社会生活的文化载体." can be translated as "a cultural carrier rooted in the social life of the Miao people." (Note, I think "文化傳承 - culture heritage" or simply "文化" is a better choice than "文化载体" for this case.)

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This is just a pompous word to 'upgrade' the text. If you just want to convey its actually meaning, maybe simply say 'a part of their culture' is good enough. Or to keep its pompous style, use something like 'cultural carrier' as is already suggested by other OP. I'm not sure about native speakers' reaction to these 2 ways of translation, though.

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载体 is a technical term which means "carrier". You would use this word in radiotelephony, to describe the way an audio wave is modulated onto a carrier wave to transmit sound.

Edit: the actual term for carrier wave in radiotelephony is 载波, so 载体 is a bit more abstract, referring to anything that can carry information not limited to radio waves.

文化载体 would be a metaphor based on this, treating some object or custom as if it is a radio wave that is transmitting information. It is the kind of metaphor a physicist might come up with, if they applied concepts from physics to sociology.

So if you want to preserve that sense, you would want a scientific/technical sounding word used in a sociological context.

"Carrier" doesn't quite fit the bill because alone, it doesn't convey this technical sense. The image that will come to mind first for most people is a vessel like a container or basket, or maybe a vehicle which carries things, like a truck.

I would try to translate it by working in words like "transmit" or "frequency". Something like this:

"Silversmithing is more than merely a decorative art, it is the carrier by which Miao society transmits its culture through the ages."

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