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A Chinese Dictionary in the Cantonese Dialect
London.: Trubner.. 1877.. 3 volumes. Volume I: xxxv + 404pp. Volume II: 405 - 1018pp. Supplement: xcviipp. Volume II: Lacks preliminary leaves prior to title page, but otherwise complete. Some worming particularly title page and first leaves but fortunately largely only affecting the margins of the leaves, indeed where letters have been lost, the sense of the sentence is still quite clear. All volumes recased, the first 2 volumes bound in early 20th maroon cloth and the supplement in black which is likely the original cloth. Each volume has modern endpapers, volumes I and II lettered in gilt on spine, new endpapers. Upper joint volume I torn with a little loss of cloth but still sound, some wear head and tail of spine, corners worn and bumped. Light even browning both volumes, note in black ink upper cover volumes I and II, some occasional spotting or marking. Cloth of Supplement volume damp marked, some occasional light soiling but overall text very good. Volumes I and II 23.8 x 15.5cm (25.4 x 17 binding) measure whereas the Supplement is a little larger at 24.5 x 15.7cm, (25 x 16.5cm binding). Ernst Johann Eitel (Ernest John Eitel, 1837-1908) was a German protestant missionary to China in the Canton area who later joined the Hong Kong civil government, where his knowledge of the languages and people of the province were of great assistance to the British authorities. He was also a prolific writer, whose works on Buddhism and on fengshui are being reprinted to this day on account of their abiding value. The Cantonese-English Dictionary is not least among his achievements. Several Cantonese-English dictionaries predate Eitel?'s, the most significant being the 1856 one volume work by the eminent American missionary scholar, S. Wells Williams (1812-1884) best known for his major historical work, The Middle Kingdom, published in 1848 and in a revised edition of 1883. Wilhelm Lobscheid (1822-1890), another German missionary-scholar turned Hong Kong civil servant, published an English and Chinese Dictionary in Hong Kong in four parts between 1866-69 (Daily Press Office) which gave the Punti (Cantonese) and Mandarin pronounciations , and was afterwards (1883) enlarged and re- published as a single volume in Japan by a Japanese scholar, However, Eitel?'s was the first properly Cantonese-English dictionary to appear in two regular volumes. It was later revised and enlarged further by Immanuel Gottlieb Genahr (1856-1937) yet another German missionary-scholar working in the Canton province [Guangdong] and published in 1910. This is the edition more commonly available today. The first edition is seldom if ever seen, which makes the present copy of greater interest to the specialist bibliophile. The supplement is even scarer still than the rare first edition. Strictly speaking, Cantonese is a language, not a dialect. The Eitel dictionary adopted the speech of the provincial capital, Canton, as the standard version of the spoken language, but there were, and to some extent still must be, many variations to be found within the regions of the province, including major dialects which were the subject of published articles by James Dyer Ball and other resident sinologues of the day, to be found in late 19th century issues of the China Review. In this situation, it is scarcely surprising that it is open to criticism by modern linguistic scholars like the late Wong Shik-ling (S.L. Wong) 1908-1959, of Lingnan and Hong Kong Universities, whose authoritative study of the language was published in Chinese in 1948. His observations would apply to all earlier works, but this is to be expected and in no way detracts from Eitel?'s and others?' achievements in bringing forward their important contributions to those westerners studying the language and to the promotion and understanding essential to meaningful cultural exchange. This copy of the first edition of Eitel?'s Dictionary was bought in Hong Kong about 1970 or earlier, and is likely to have spent its whole life there, perhaps having been brought out for sale by the London publisher?'s co-publisher, the famous local firm of Lane, Crawford & Co, founded in 1850 which continues to this day as the territory?'s most prestigious local department store, with branches in China. The dictionary itself was re-bound in the early 20th century, and the worn title blocks were replaced very recently. It appears likely that the cloth the supplementary volume is bound in is the original. .
      [Bookseller: Asia Bookroom]
Last Found On: 2015-08-20           Check availability:      Biblio    

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