Kangxi Dictionary, 3rd ed. (1827)
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The Kangxi Dictionary (Chinese :康熙字典; pinyin :Kāngxī Zìdiǎn) is the standard Chinese dictionary during the 18th and 19th centuries. The Kangxi Emperor of Qing Dynasty ordered its compilation in 1710. It used the earlier Zihui system of 214 radicals, today known as 214 Kangxi radicals, and was published in 1716. The dictionary is named after the Emperor's era name.
The dictionary contains more than 47,000 characters, though some 40% of them are graphic variants. In addition, there are rare or archaic characters, some of which are attested only once. Fewer than a quarter of the characters it contains are now in common use.
The original Kangxi Zidian editors included Zhang Yushu (張玉書, 1642-1711), Chen Tingjing (陳廷敬, 1639-1712), and a staff of thirty. They based it partly on two Ming Dynasty dictionaries: the 1615 Zihui (字彙 "Character Collection") by Mei Yingzuo (梅膺祚), and the 1627 Zhengzitong (正字通 "Correct Character Mastery") by Zhang Zilie (張自烈).
Since the imperial edict required that the Kangxi Dictionary be compiled within five years, a number of errors were inevitable. Although the emperor's preface to the dictionary said, "each and every definition is given in detail and every single pronunciation is provided", 字典考證 "Character Dictionary Textual Research") corrected 2,588 mistakes, mostly in quotations and citations.Victor H. Mair describes the first edition as “actually quite sloppy and full of mistakes”. The scholar-official Wang Xihou (1713-1777) criticized the Kangxi Zidian in the preface of his dictionary Ziguan (字貫, String of Characters). When the Qianlong Emperor (r. 1725-1796), Kangxi's grandson, was informed of this insult in 1777, Wang's entire family was sentenced to death by the nine familial exterminations, the most extreme form of capital punishment in imperial China. The Daoguang Emperor appointed Wang Yinzhi (1766-1834) and a review board to compile an officially sanctioned supplement to the Kangxi Zidian, and their 1831 Zidian kaozheng (
The supplemented dictionary contains 47,035 character entries, plus 1,995 graphic variants, giving a total of 49,030 different characters. They are grouped under the 214 radicals and arranged by the number of additional strokes in the character. Although these 214 radicals were first used in the Zihui , due to the popularity of the Kangxi Dictionary they are known as Kangxi radicals and remain in modern usage as a method to categorize traditional Chinese characters.
The character entries give variants (if any), pronunciations in traditional fanqie spelling and in modern reading of a homophone, different meanings, and quotations from Chinese books and lexicons. The dictionary also contains rime tables with characters ordered under syllable rime classes, tones, and initial syllable onsets.
Even the Kangxi Dictionary title is lexicographically significant. After examining his dictionary, the emperor described it as a "canon of characters" (zidian 字典), which became the standard Chinese word for "dictionary", and used in the title of practically every dictionary published since the Kangxi.
The Kangxi Dictionary is available in many forms, from old Qing Dynasty editions in block printing, to reprints in traditional Chinese bookbinding, to modern revised editions with essays in Western-style hardcover, to the digitized Internet version.
In a groundbreaking lexicographical project based on the Kangxi dictionary, Walter Henry Medhurst, an early translator of the Bible into Chinese, compiled a bilingual dictionary (1842) "containing all the words in the Chinese imperial dictionary".
The Kangxi Dictionary is one of the Chinese dictionaries used by the Ideographic Research Group for the Unicode standard.
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A Chinese radical or indexing component is a graphical component of a Chinese character under which the character is traditionally listed in a Chinese dictionary. This component is often a semantic indicator similar to a morpheme, though sometimes it may be a phonetic component or even an artificially extracted portion of the character. In some cases the original semantic or phonological connection has become obscure, owing to changes in character meaning or pronunciation over time.
Shuowen Jiezi is an ancient Chinese dictionary from the Han dynasty. Although not the first comprehensive Chinese character dictionary, it was the first to analyze the structure of the characters and to give the rationale behind them, as well as the first to use the principle of organization by sections with shared components called radicals.
The 214 Kangxi radicals, also known as the Zihui radicals, form a system of radicals (部首) of Chinese characters. The radicals are numbered in stroke count order. They are the most popular system of radicals for dictionaries that order Traditional Chinese characters by radical and stroke count. They are officially part of the Unicode encoding system for CJKV characters, in their standard order, under the coding block "Kangxi radicals", while their graphic variants are contained in the "CJK Radicals Supplement". Thus, a reference to "radical 61", for example, without additional context, refers to the 61st radical of the Kangxi Dictionary, 心; xīn "heart".
The Dai Kan-Wa Jiten is a Japanese dictionary of kanji compiled by Tetsuji Morohashi. Remarkable for its comprehensiveness and size, Morohashi's dictionary contains over 50,000 character entries and 530,000 compound words. Haruo Shirane (2003:15) says: "This is the definitive dictionary of the Chinese characters and one of the great dictionaries of the world."
Japanese dictionaries have a history that began over 1300 years ago when Japanese Buddhist priests, who wanted to understand Chinese sutras, adapted Chinese character dictionaries. Present-day Japanese lexicographers are exploring computerized editing and electronic dictionaries. According to Nakao Keisuke (中尾啓介):
It has often been said that dictionary publishing in Japan is active and prosperous, that Japanese people are well provided for with reference tools, and that lexicography here, in practice as well as in research, has produced a number of valuable reference books together with voluminous academic studies. (1998:35)
Variant Chinese characters are Chinese characters that are homophones and synonyms. Almost all variants are allographs in most circumstances, such as casual handwriting. Some contexts require the usage of certain variants, such as in textbook editing.
The Zhonghua Da Zidian is an unabridged Chinese dictionary of characters, originally published in 1915 by the Zhonghua Book Company in Shanghai. The chief editors were Xu Yuan'gao (徐元誥), Lufei Kui (陆费逵), and Ouyang Pucun (歐陽溥存/欧阳溥存). It was based upon the 1716 Kangxi Zidian, and is internally organized using the 214 Kangxi radicals. The 1915 publication contains more than 48,000 entries for individual characters, including many invented in the two centuries since the Kangxi Dictionary, making it the largest character dictionary of its time.
Chinese dictionaries date back over two millennia to the Han Dynasty, which is a significantly longer lexicographical history than any other language. There are hundreds of dictionaries for the Chinese language, and this article discusses some of the most important.
The 1615 Zìhuì is a Chinese dictionary edited by the Ming Dynasty scholar Mei Yingzuo (梅膺祚). It is renowned for introducing two lexicographical innovations that continue to be used in the present day: the 214-radical system for indexing Chinese characters, which replaced the classic Shuowen Jiezi dictionary's 540-radical system, and the radical-and-stroke sorting method.
The Zhongwen Da Cidian, also known in English as the Encyclopaedic Dictionary of the Chinese Language, is an unabridged Chinese dictionary, edited by Zhang Qiyun and others. The first edition had 40 volumes including its radical index in volume 39 and stroke index in volume 40. It was published from 1962 through 1968.
The Hanyu dazidian is a reference work on Chinese characters.
The Zhengzitong was a 17th-century Chinese dictionary. The Ming dynasty scholar Zhang Zilie originally published it in 1627 as a supplement to the 1615 Zihui dictionary of Chinese characters, and called it the Zihui bian. The Qing dynasty author Liao Wenying bought Zhang's manuscript, renamed it Zhengzitong, and published it under his own name in 1671.
The Shizhoupian is the first known Chinese dictionary, and was written in the ancient Great Seal script. The work was traditionally dated to the reign of King Xuan of Zhou, but many modern scholars assign it to the State of Qin in the Warring States period. The text is no longer extant, and it is now known only through fragments.
Zhonghua Zihai is the largest Chinese character dictionary available for print, compiled in 1994 and consisting of 85,568 different characters.
The Ciyuan or Tz'u-yüan was the first major Chinese dictionary linguistically structured around words instead of individual characters used to write them. The Commercial Press published the first edition Ciyuan in 1915, and reissued it in various formats, including a 1931 supplement, and a fully revised 1979–1984 edition. The latest (3rd) edition was issued in 2015 to commemorate the centenary anniversary of its first publication.
A Dictionary of the Chinese Language, in Three Parts or Morrison's Chinese dictionary (1815-1823), compiled by the Anglo-Scottish missionary Robert Morrison was the first Chinese-English, English-Chinese dictionary. Part I is Chinese-English arranged by the 214 Kangxi radicals, Part II is Chinese-English arranged alphabetically, and Part III is English-Chinese also arranged alphabetically. This groundbreaking reference work is enormous, comprising 4,595 pages in 6 quarto volumes and including 47,035 head characters taken from the 1716 Kangxi Dictionary. However, Morrison's encyclopedic dictionary had flaws, notably failing to distinguish aspirated consonants: the pronunciation taou is given for both aspirated táo and unaspirated dào.
The Chinese and English Dictionary: Containing All the Words in the Chinese Imperial Dictionary, Arranged According to the Radicals (1842), compiled by the English Congregationalist missionary Walter Henry Medhurst (1796-1857), is the second major Chinese-English dictionary after Robert Morrison's pioneering (1815-1823) A Dictionary of the Chinese Language. Medhurst's intention was to publish an abridged and cheaper dictionary that still contained all the 47,035 head characters from the (1716) Kangxi Dictionary, which Morrison's huge dictionary included. Medhurst reversed and revised into his Chinese-English dictionary in compiling the (1847-1848) English and Chinese Dictionary in Two Volumes.
A Chinese–English Dictionary (1892), compiled by the British consular officer and sinologist Herbert Allen Giles (1845–1935), is the first Chinese–English encyclopedic dictionary. Giles started compilation after being rebuked for criticizing mistranslations in Samuel Wells Williams' (1874) A Syllabic Dictionary of the Chinese Language. The 1,461-page first edition contains 13,848 Chinese character head entries alphabetically collated by Beijing Mandarin pronunciation romanized in the Wade–Giles system, which Giles created as a modification of Thomas Wade's (1867) system. Giles' dictionary furthermore gives pronunciations from nine regional varieties of Chinese, and three Sino-Xenic languages Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese. Giles revised his dictionary into the 1,813-page second edition (1912) with the addition of 67 entries and numerous usage examples.
Character dictionary, known as zìdiǎn in Mandarin Chinese, is a dictionary which lists individual Chinese characters and defines the characters' meanings, usages, and pronunciations. Character dictionaries are often arranged according to the shape of characters and usually include some rare characters.
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