ABC English-Chinese, Chinese-English Dictionary out soon

front cover of the ABC English-Chinese, Chinese-English DictionaryThe ABC Chinese-English Dictionary was published ten years ago. It was revolutionary in that, for the first time, a Mandarin-English dictionary was ordered entirely by the headwords’ pronunciation as written in pinyin. (Stroke and radical indexes are also there to aid finding a character when its shape is known but not its pronunciation.) Other dictionaries in the DeFrancis ABC series have followed. But up to now there been no ABC dictionary with an English to Mandarin section as well as a Mandarin to English one.

At the end of this month the University of Hawai`i Press is releasing the ABC English-Chinese, Chinese-English Dictionary. The new dictionary, which is 1,252 pages long, has 29,670 entries in its English-Mandarin section and 37,963 entries for Mandarin-English (total 67,633 entries). (The much larger ABC Chinese-English Comprehensive Dictionary has some 196,000 entries — all Mandarin-English).

This is a big year for Mandarin-English dictionaries, with the forthcoming release of the ABC ECCE and the release three months ago of the massive Oxford Chinese Dictionary. From the standpoint of Pinyin, however, the Oxford dictionary is a disappointment. For example, the Oxford dictionary has no Pinyin in the English-Mandarin section, just Chinese characters; in some other places tone marks are missing from some of the Pinyin, where it appears at all. Perhaps this will be rectified in the online edition, which has yet to appear. At the moment, though, the Oxford looks like a fairly traditional dictionary — albeit a huge one — aimed mainly at English learners in China, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you happen to be among that very large group of people. For more on the Oxford, see the video at Danwei and the entries at Chinese Forums (with some images) and Language Log.

Unlike the Oxford dictionary, the ABC ECCE offers both Pinyin and Chinese characters for all entries and sample sentences. (See samples below. Click on those for more extensive examples in PDF files.)

From what I’ve seen so far of the ABC English-Chinese, Chinese-English Dictionary, I expect it to become the dictionary for English-speaking students of Mandarin. I’ll write more about this once I’m able to see a hard copy.

The ABC English-Chinese, Chinese-English Dictionary retails for only US$20, compared to US$75 for the Oxford.

From the Mandarin-English section. But don’t expect the text in the printed edition to be this large. I’ve enlarged the image to make it easier to read on the Web.
examples of entries in the Mandarin-English section of the ABC English-Chinese, Chinese-English Dictionary

From the English-Mandarin section:
examples of entries in the English-Mandarin section of the ABC English-Chinese, Chinese-English Dictionary

(ISBN-10: 0824834852; ISBN-13: 978-0824834852)

See also:

8 thoughts on “ABC English-Chinese, Chinese-English Dictionary out soon

  1. I have an Oxford Chinese minidictionary that must have been published about 10 years ago, and it has pinyin in both sections, always with the correct tone marks. If it didn’t, it would be useless for me! It’s small, so won’t have the breadth of vocabulary of this dictionary. Anyway, just thought I’d point out that other dictionaries do exist, just maybe not for advanced speakers.

  2. For example, the Oxford dictionary has no Pinyin in the English-Mandarin section, just Chinese characters; in some other places tone marks are missing from some of the Pinyin, where it appears at all.

    I remember back when I first got to Taiwan, it was difficult to find a dictionary that wasn’t like that. It’s getting better now that more foreigners are learning Chinese, but we’re still a tiny minority of English-Chinese dictionary users.

    Oddly, the one dictionary that I did find with pinyin in the E-C half was the old red oxford one.

  3. Pingback: Pinyin news » Wenlin releases major upgrade (4.0)

  4. Very nice to see full pinyin with added sandhi marks!

    Why didn’t they use proper IPA for English? Their [y] should be /j/ or [j], and their [r] should be /r/ or some variant of [?]. For “acerbic”, I guess most dictionaries would use something like [?]. I can see how users who learn IPA from this book could get confused the first time they see proper IPA. But other than that, ABC’s nonstandard use won’t pose a major problem as long as it’s still obvious what they mean.

  5. Pingback: Pinyin news » Oxford Chinese Dictionary goes online

  6. Pingback: Pinyin news » Gift ideas for Mandarin learners

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>