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We're getting 地灾 warnings over here...but what is a 地灾?

Apparently it's short for 地质灾害...

adsotrans dictionary defines it, word-for-word, as a geological disaster; which is pretty meaningless because who has ever even heard of a geological disaster?

规范 writes:

地震、泥石流、地面塌陷、火山爆发等

but I mean, that is super broad and doesn't really tell me much - either there's gonna be an earthquake or a volcano is about to erupt...

Is there a proper translation for 地灾? (natural disaster? perhaps?)

and is it really that un-specific?

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The proper translation is geologic hazards. It is used to refer to any disaster that result from either human land use or natural geological processes. Consequently, it is quite a large and, yes, unspecific, group of disasters.

In China, generally speaking it refers to one of the following:

Technically geologic hazards can actually refer to many other phenomenons, but these are the ones usually meant when warnings and reports on 地灾 are issued. As you can obviously see, these specific disasters revolve around a similar theme. They are especially likely to happen after heavy rain. And so they often get referred to collectively as 地质灾害 in the press.

If the risk is actually a volcanic eruption, the press would probably spell out 火山爆发 instead of being vague by warning of 地灾.

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  • I just assumed being vague was in order to prevent mass panic. – Mou某 Jul 8 '14 at 15:07
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It is very common seeing shortened and generalized terms in PRC.

地震、泥石流、地面塌陷、火山爆发 ... --(generalize)--> 地质灾害 --(shorten)--> 地灾

Making things unspecified is some kind of trend, even in daily context. For example, people write "建議" instead of 提醒/主張/敦促/呼籲/規勸/勸告/忠告/勸諭/勸阻/警告/告誡/.... and "選擇" instead of 惟有/不如/只好/寧願/寧可/情願/甘願/決意/被迫/故意/.... The more unspecified the harder it is to criticize or make judgements.

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  • Sounds very diplomatic – Mou某 Jul 9 '14 at 3:26
  • Yup, another classical example is "rule of law" and "rule by law" .... both translated as "法治". – Henry HO Jul 9 '14 at 10:25

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