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AjointventuretocompileagrandCh

栏目:H好生活 | 来源:http://www.sb970.com | 时间:2020-08-12

<>President Ma Ying-jeou made a momentous recommendation for cultural exchange between Taiwan and China the other day. He said that he hopes a joint venture will be launched to compile a grand Chinese dictionary. The joint venture will be on the agenda of the next meeting of the Cross-Strait Economic Forum organized by the ruling Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist Party at Zhangsha on July 11-12. The best Chinese dictionary we have, to the regret of all of us, is the Kangxi Dictionary, which was published with the authorization of the Qing emperor of that name who ruled China from 1662 to 1723. The authority of the most comprehensive dictionary of all time in China is somewhat like that of the King James' version of the English Bible. Many Chinese dictionaries have been published in modern China with new words, terms and phrases included, but none of them match the Kangxi Dictionary, which is still in use today.

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<>Of course, the Kangxi Dictionary is of little help to those who study the Chinese language today, for it lacks entries for thousands upon thousands of new words coined over the past century and a half since China was exposed to Western civilization. Chinese lexicography has failed to catch up with time. So much so that you, more often than not, can't find words you want to know in Chinese dictionaries available at our book shops.

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<>The lack of good Chinese dictionaries, incidentally, has made it impossible for editors to come up with satisfactory Chinese-English dictionaries which English-speaking students of Chinese need most. Translators are also in sad need of good Chinese-English dictionaries, which cannot be compiled simply because there are no truly good comprehensive Chinese dictionaries on which the editors can anchor their compilation. Try to look for words commonly used in our daily life in any Chinese-English dictionary, and you will be disappointed there are no such entries.

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<>As a matter of fact, we should have long started compiling a grand Chinese dictionary, our version of the Oxford English Dictionary . The greatest lexicographic endeavor, the OED took 70 years to complete. The scheme of a complete new English dictionary was conceived in 1858. It took 20 years for the editors to collect materials and the actual preparation of the dictionary began to take active form in 1878. The first part was published in 1884. The work was finished in 1928. It contains a record of 414,825 words, whose history is illustrated by 1,827, 306 quotations. An important supplement appeared in 1933. The supplement is known as the NED .

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<>We are certain the Chinese authorities love the idea of a “New Chinese Dictionary.” They will most likely agree to launch the joint venture, which may take decades, if not seven of them in the case of the single-handed British effort, to complete. But the Kuomintang which President Ma will head as its chairman come September 12, certainly will face uncompromising opposition from Democratic Progressive Party leaders who are expected to make fictitious charges of selling out Taiwan against Ma. The Chinese won't object to including all the characters in the traditional script in the dictionary they would compile together with editors from Taiwan. On the other hand, the Chinese surely will insist that simplified script be used as well. Words commonly used in China and written in the simplified logograms, which often differ semantically from ours, have to be entered in the grand dictionary envisaged. Our editors have no alternative but to comply. Then, all those hate-China politicians will do whatever they can to abort the first and probably the most important cultural exchange project between Taiwan and China. We don't think Chairman Ma would and could brush aside the expected DPP opposition.

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<>But President Ma can get Taiwan to go it alone. All he has to do is to form a presidential committee of editors to start compiling a scaled down version of the New Chinese Dictionary, though it must be a truly new comprehensive dictionary of current Chinese. We know full well the government is facing terrible financial stringencies, but the cost, which would be spread over many years, wouldn't be an excessive burden on the government's annual budget. The total outlay for the compilation will be only a fraction of the budget for any of our many pork barrel construction projects.

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<>It's a profound pity that China, the world's oldest continuing civilization, has no Chinese dictionary as grand and historical as the OED. No attempts have been made on either side of the Taiwan Strait to compile one that can rival the Kangxi Dictionary of yore. The joint venture President Ma has suggested would give us the long-awaited dictionary, but Taiwan probably has to embark on the epoch-making endeavor all alone for political reasons.

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<>President Chiang Kai-shek, who moved his Kuomintang government from Nanjing to Taipei, vowed to preserve and protect Chinese culture in Taiwan against Communist erosion from China. In fact, Taiwan has preserved much more of traditional Chinese culture than anywhere else in China, thanks in part to its seclusion under Japanese colonial rule. The Japanization that the colonists tried to impose on the Hoklo and Hakka peoples on Taiwan only made them value their Chinese cultural legacy more highly. As the rightful preserver of Chinese culture, Taiwan is duty-bound to have a new comprehensive Chinese dictionary published, no matter how long and how much it may take to complete this historical task.

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