A New Format and a New Concept in Bilingual Lexicography: Reflections on the Making of A Comprehensive Chinese-English Dictionary

Chan Sin-wai

This paper is a reflection on the compilation of my newly published dictionary entitled A Comprehensive Chinese-English Dictionary, which focuses on the holism and interconnectedness of dictionary entries. 

 Most Chinese-English dictionaries on the market follow a certain method for arranging their entries, such as those based on romanization, number of strokes, or radicals. Currently, the most popular, as well as the most widely used, method is the Hanyu Pinyin romanization. What is most undesirable about this method, however, is that entries are listed alphabetically according to the romanization of the first character, which results in the separation of terms related to the entries (such as negatives and adjectives) due to the variations in the positions of the key characters, making it impossible to see their holism and interconnectedness.

In my dictionary, the holism of entries can be clearly observed in the normal and reverse order arrangements for both single-character and multiple-character entries. In addition, all entries are arranged according to the four tones of Hanyu Pinyin for easy consultation. At the same time, the method of semantic analysis in linguistics has been applied in the reverse part, arranging multiple-character entries with key characters in different positions according to Hanyu Pinyin, which systematically shows the interconnectedness of the listed entries.

 It is hoped that the application of the concepts of holism and interconnectedness, and the arrangement of entries according to Hanyu Pinyin, will represent a breakthrough in dictionary format and a whole new concept in bilingual lexicography.