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Looking through twitter today I came across this tweet that says:

加拿大前六个部长上白皮书,要求释放王炳章 Six former Canadian ministers call for release of jailed Chinese dissident in open letter /via @globeandmail

The original article is in English, where they use the term "open letter." The Chinese translation is seeming just from Wang Bingwu where he rendered it as "白皮书."

This translation doesn't make much sense to me, as 公开信 is a perfectly common 1-to-1 translation for "open letter." And 白皮书 is just a translation of white paper. But, perhaps there is something to this that I am missing.

Is "白皮书" a good translation of "open letter"?

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No, as stated in your post : 公开信 is a perfectly common 1-to-1 translation for "open letter."; while "white paper" is a specific term for a type of government-issued document or business to business document, and it is always translated as 白皮书 in Chinese

The function of 白皮书 is different from 公开信. Translating 'open letter' as '白皮书' is a mistake.

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Tang Ho is 100% right. In a way, 白皮书 is part of 公开信, but with much narrow function and purpose. Because semantic translation is quite complicated: 公开的法案或协议的拟稿。Therefor, 白皮书 is used. Lazy? Absolutely. Welcome to modern languages.

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