This dictionary is an expansion of the ground-breaking ABC
the first strictly alphabetically ordered
and Pinyin computerized dictionary. It contains over 196,000 entries,
compared to the 71,486 entries of the earlier work, making it the most
comprehensive one-volume dictionary of Chinese.
The single-sort alphabetic order of the entries provides by far the
simplest and fastest way to look up a term whose pronunciation is known.
Radical charts help locate characters when the pronunciation of a term is
not known and facilitate access to traditional, simplified, and variant
forms of characters. Other distinctive features of this dictionary include:
information on whether a character is free form, sometimes bound, or always
bound; traditional character equivalents for preceding simplified characters
for each entry where appropriate; measure words for particular nouns; data
from both the PRC and Taiwan indicating the relative frequency of entries
that are complete or partial homographs; unique one-to-one correspondence
between transcription and characters that permits calling up on a computer
the characters of any entry by simply typing the corresponding
About the Author
John DeFrancis is emeritus professor of Chinese at the University of Hawai'i.
- Hardcover: 1439 pages
- Publisher: University of Hawaii Press; Bilingual edition
- Language: English
- ISBN: 082482766X
- Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 7.4 x 2.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.2 pounds.
- Average Customer Review:
based on 7 reviews.
|47 of 48 people found the following review
Best pinyin CED on the market. Peerless., June 8, 2003
A superbly complete and accurate work, worth every penny! Like the
earlier and more portable 71,000-entry ABC Chinese-English Dictionary
(another great book, reviewed separately), this is ordered strictly by
pinyin, so you needn't know the characters in a word you hear in order
to look it up. But it improves greatly on the original ABC in many
important ways besides its comprehensive content (over 196,000 entries).
Most vital is the addition of the traditional characters next to the
simplified for compounds as well (the original had them only for main
A second huge improvement is that the characters making up compounds are
now listed singly *even if* they only occur in compounds, e.g., hu2 and
die2 (butterfly) are now listed among the other hu2 and die2 main
entries, but it clearly marks that they are bound forms occurring only
in the compound hu2die2 (so you know not to use them alone). Actually,
the dictionary goes into even more detail, distinguishing characters
which are bound in one meaning like sheng1 as in xue2sheng1 student, but
not in another like 'to give birth'.
Third is the invaluable addition of measure words, in several ways. By
an entry such as umbrella (whether you look it up as the character san3
or the compound yu3san3), you'll find "M: 1ba3" (superscripted 1, then
3rd tone ba with diacritical). The measure word is thus ba3, and the 1
means it's the first character listed under the ba3 entries, so you can
easily find it if you don't know it. There's also an appendix of measure
words (4 pages worth, unlike many of the measly lists in some other
books), not only nominal (to count nouns) but also verbal (for actions,
like tang4 in pao3le yi2tang4, made one trip). Incredibly helpful!
Fourth, the top quality binding (library-style, cloth) will last a
lifetime, and is worth every penny. Fifth, yes, its comprehensive
content, over 196,000 entries, meaning it will definitely still be
useful to you when your Chinese reaches an advanced, even fluent level,
and they've been able to add much more slang and colloquial words, as
well as more Taiwan vs. PRC usage.
Finally, (and this is important) the compilers have been phenomenally
careful and professional, truly meticulous and accurate, unlike sloppy,
error-laden works like UMUM's Learner's CED or Harbaugh's Chinese
Characters: A Genealogy and Dictionary. They have also been very
responsive to reader input, as is evidenced by the many improvements to
this edition. Absolutely one of the best Chinese-English dictionaries in
existence, and a definite must-buy!
|3 of 3 people found the following review
Indespensible, easy to use and comprehensive., November 6, 2005
This dictionary is an indispensable dictionary for anyone who has any
need for a Chinese-English dictionary. It is organized alphabetically by
pinyin. Looking up a compound term is very easy. I know of no other
Chinese-English dictionary that has so many compound entries or is so
easy to use once the pinyin is known.
Another plus is it adheres to the National Standard of the People's
Republic of China for Hanyu Pinyin Orthography. This means if you want
to know the correct pinyin for a compound this dictionary is without
peer. The rules for separating and joining words; rules for spelling
fused phrase expressions are all given and adhered to. When I want to
double check I have transliterated a Chinese term, book title or address
correctly into pinyin this is the dictionary I use.
In the one year that I have been using this dictionary I have only come
across a few twentieth century compounds that not listed in this
dictionary. A very nice feature is the entries clearly state when a
character is a bound form and can not appear alone (modern usage only).
There is no wasted space in this dictionary, each page is laid out in
the traditional three column dictionary format. The characters and
compounds are labeled as to parts of speech, whether it is a measure
word or compound, what the area of usage is (Taiwan as well as PRC;
slang, colloquial, linguistic, medical, legal, scientific, etc.) and
whether it is chiefly in written material versus ordinary speech. Both
simple and complex forms of the character are given.
The appendices contain conversion tables for Pinyin, Wade-Giles, Guoyeu
Romatzyh, Yale and Zhuyin Fuhao; character look up tables by stroke
count (sub-indexed by stroke type) and by radical index. Also a table of
standard and variant character forms is given.
The typeface is modern, easy to read and is slightly larger than the
type in my Webster's Third New International Dictionary. (I.e., the big
dictionary found in all libraries that sits on top of a dictionary
I own at least a half dozen Chinese-English dictionaries (including some
very specialized ones) and two Chinese-Chinese dictionaries and this
dictionary is the one that I use the most. A huge improvement over older
(but modern) Chinese-English dictionaries.
|1 of 3 people found the following review
Good dictionary but..., October 6, 2005
I'm very happy about the sheer number of entries, I don't think there
are many others like this one. The problem is (and for me it is a main
issue) that you cannot roam the entries by characters. That's a big
drawback, so unless you know the pyinin it will take ages to find what
you're looking for. So I am now returning this dictionary and still
looking for another one, where once you found the radical, you can find
the word by character first.
|2 of 3 people found the following review
Great Dictionary, though not best solution for classroom,
September 8, 2005
I bought this dictionary based on the rave reviews here. I was not
disappointed. My biggest problem with other dictionaries has been that I
invariably come across a word that isn't in the dictionary. I haven't
looked something up in this one yet that I haven't found. The drawbacks
mentioned in other reviews apply (can't roam the entries by character,
and you have to know what you're looking for) but they aren't show
stoppers. I find that for organized study this is an excellent
dictionary to keep on the shelf.
As for classroom use, I've used Oxford and Langenscheidt because they're
smaller and easier to carry to class. But they routinely dissapoint
because they just don't have enough entries. A better solution is
PlecoDict [...] a Palm-based dictionary that includes the entire
contents of the ABC dictionary as well as one other C-E dictionary and
two E-C dictionaries! All this for $120 and it fits in your pocket!
Bottom line is that this is an outstanding dictionary (a must-have) but
the print format has drawbacks, thus the 4-star rating.
|4 of 4 people found the following review
An essential dictionary, August 31, 2005
One can see from the credits page towards the start that quite a team
went into putting this dictionary together. Other than the editor John
DeFrancis himself, there are five associate editors, four editorial
associates, two computer associates and twelve proofreading associates
(two of whom double as associate editors). This spread of "eyes" is
important with dictionary compilation as the fewer people working on the
text, the more nuanced the definitions and selection of words.
I like the inclusion of the Kangxi and Comprehensive Radical Charts at
the "back end paper verso" (back cover) of the dictionary. The front
covers are blank, which could have been used in a similar way, perhaps
for a summary of stroke-order rules.
Speaking of stroke-order rules, I have rarely, if ever, seen a
satisfactory treatment of this in any Chinese text, let alone
dictionary. Unfortunately this includes the volume at hand. The best
method that I have seen is employed for the use of Japanese
lexicography, in Hadamitzky and Spahn's Kanji & Kana (Tuttle -
On the whole, however, the appendices included at the back are
comprehensive, necessary and easy to follow.
The inclusion of words with Roman lettering (such as "a Q jingshen -
attitude that treats defeats as personal moral victories" p9) shows the
trend towards the use of English words and letters interspersed in
Mandarin in modern China.
The "er" retroflexive suffix is a handy inclusion - at each relevant
entry - for anyone wanting to travel to Beijing or the surrounding area.
The same word can have this suffix appended or not, depending on the
intended meaning. Thus, it is of great benefit to be able to check at a
glance whether it is included in each individual entry, without having
to memorise the rule/s concerned. A cheap handbook (shou ce) on the "er"
suffix, called "hanyu erhuaci xuexi shouce / Chinese-er suffixed words
without tears" is available, published by Beijing University.
It would have been good if measure words were included in the entries as
well. But this may have overly complicated the process, as a word can
have more than one measure word depending on the context in which it is
used. On page 1360 and onwards, however, there is a very useful appendix
listing many measure words and their respective usages.
Whenever a character has been simplified, the traditional character is
shown in square brackets. This is essential for anyone interested in the
etymology of a character. Also, if you have spent time in Hong Kong or
Shen Zhen, or have studied Chinese before using fantizi (traditional
characters) you will appreciate being able to move from the familiar to
the more challenging.
This dictionary has an electronic counterpart, namely Wenlin. Wenlin is
top-of-the-range Chinese dictionary software, with many added benefits
over using the book alone. This includes a flashcards function, a
drawing box for character look-up, and spoken pronunciation of a high
quality; not to mention the ability to upgrade from Wenlin's website.
If you are thinking of buying both the ABC dictionary and Wenlin, I
would err on the side of "lexical diversity" by choosing Wenlin and,
possibly, Oxford's 3rd edition English-Chinese/Chinese-English
dictionary, the one with the red cover (0-19-596457-8). The benefits of
this, are twofold. First, you would have an English-Chinese dictionary
(which ABC has not and Wenlin's is limited). Second, the Oxford
dictionary is smaller, and much more portable, than ABC (but the 1999
edition of ABC is available in a smaller size).
Although the text size is quite small, the print quality is of such a
standard that the components and shape of complicated characters (i.e.
jiantizi - simplified - but still complicated) can still be discerned.
Perhaps most importantly, with this dictionary most of all, please read
the Introduction and Reader's Guide at the front of this dictionary as
soon as possible. It contains information on the arrangement of words,
orthography, parts of speech and many other indispensable tools.
In short, highly recommended, 5 stars without a moment's hesitation.
|12 of 14 people found the following review
Awesome Dictionary, October 27, 2004
I have this dictionary both in the book format and as a software (Wenlin
electronic dictionary is based on this one).
I have found this dictionary particularly useful because the words are
arranged in alphabetically order using pinyin - when I was going
initially through Rosetta Stone's program for learning Chinese.
Dictionary contains over 196,000 entries - well, if you're serious about
learning Chinese, you may as well get a comprehensive dictionary to
begin with. It will be useful for a long time.
Beside the pinyin listing, you'll find both simplified Chinese
characters, and complex characters - complex / traditional characters
are in brackets. Parts of speech and abbreviations related to the area
where the word may be encountered (e.g. medicine, photography, etc) are
also marked beside characters.
I'm so much in love with the Wenlin program, that I have to add a few
words about the electronic version of this dictionary. One advantage of
Wenlin is that you can hear the words, phrases and entire sentences
pronounced. You can also enter text in pinyin, in Chinese characters, or
in English. It is very useful when you desire to translate the
information you found on the Internet because you can just copy and
paste the Chinese text, and while this program is not considered to be a
translator - it will help you a great deal in that respect, too.
Other than that it will give you an assortment of lists related to the
character or word - according to the frequency, stroke count, radicals
and much more. It's totally awesome!