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China to begin publishing encyclopaedic Tibetan dictionary this year

In 1985, Trinley and his colleagues published a Tibetan-Chinese dictionary after eight years of concerted efforts. It includes 53,000 entries.
In 1985, Trinley and his colleagues published a Tibetan-Chinese dictionary after eight years of concerted efforts. It includes 53,000 entries.

(TibetanReview.net, Jan12, 2015) – China is to begin publishing an encyclopaedic dictionary of the Tibetan language, the first of its kind, later this year, reported the country’s official Xinhua news agency Jan 8. Altogether, the dictionary will have 13 volumes on such topics as technology, medicine, phonology, Buddhism, Nyaya philosophy, rhetoric, phraseology, prosody, drama, astrology, Tibetan literature, Bon belief and Tibetan culture, Gyangkar, an editor at the China Ethnic Publishing House, the dictionary’s publisher, was cited as saying.

Gyangkar has said the first three volumes of the dictionary will be published by the end of this year, with the remaining volumes expected to be out by 2018.

The report said work on the compilation of the dictionary began in 2006 with the involvement of more than 10 Tibetan language experts from Beijing and “China’s vast Tibetan-speaking regions”. It added that the most comprehensive Tibetan-language reference book will have about 150,000 entries, three times that of the Tibetan-Chinese dictionary published in 1985. These will include 9,000 new words and 60,000 technical terms.

One big grouse against the new encyclopaedic dictionary by critics is likely to be that most, if not all the new words will be a direct translation from Chinese, reflecting the communist Chinese dominated culture and thinking, rather than being quintessentially Tibetan in the approach to understanding and expressing the meanings.

Indeed, Trinley Qoizha, 78, a compiler of the dictionary and who had also worked on the 1985 dictionary, was quoted as saying, “New words reflect the rapid development in Tibet in terms of politics, economy, culture and education.”

The report describes Tibetan as one of the most ancient languages in China, dating back to the seventh century, currently being “used by about 8 million people in China’s Tibetan region and the neighbouring countries of India, Nepal and Bhutan.”

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