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China to publish encyclopedic dictionary of Tibetan language

Updated: Jan 8,2015 5:18 PM     Xinhua

LHASA — China plans to publish its first encyclopedic dictionary of the Tibetan language beginning in late 2015, according to the China Ethnic Publishing House on Jan 8.

The dictionary includes 13 volumes, covering technology, medicine, phonology, Buddhism, Nyaya philosophy, rhetoric, phraseology, prosody, drama, astrology, Tibetan literature, Bon belief and Tibetan culture, said Gyangkar, an editor at the China Ethnic Publishing House, the dictionary’s publisher.

The first three volumes of the dictionary will be published by the end of this year and the remaining 15 volumes are expected to be published by 2018, said Gyangkar.

With an investment of about 10 million yuan ($1.6 million) from the Chinese government, compilation of the dictionary started in 2006 and involved efforts from more than 10 Tibetan language experts from Beijing and China’s vast Tibetan-speaking regions.

The dictionary will have about 150,000 entries, three times that of the Tibetan-Chinese dictionary published in 1985, the most comprehensive Tibetan-language reference book until now.

It will include 9,000 new words and 60,000 technical terms. WeChat, the most popular instant messaging tool in China, will be called “trinqiong” in Tibetan in the dictionary. “Broadband” will be called “tayang” and “robot” will be called “trimen,” said Gyangkar.

“Language is a mirror of the times,” said Qoizha, deputy head of the Tibet regional compilation and translation bureau.

“New words reflect the rapid development in Tibet in terms of politics, economy, culture and education,” said Qoizha, adding that new words also add vitality to the Tibetan language.

Trinley Qoizha, 78, a compiler of the dictionary, was happy that his dream of witnessing the birth of a new Tibetan dictionary in his lifetime would come true.

“The new dictionary must be very heavy,” he said. “I’m afraid it is too heavy for me.”

Tibetan is one of the most ancient languages in China, dating back to the seventh century. It is currently used by about 8 million people in China’s Tibetan region and the neighboring countries of India, Nepal and Bhutan.

H.A. Jaschke, a German, was the first to compile a Tibetan-English dictionary in 1881.

Another Tibetan-English dictionary compiled by the Indian scholar Sarat Chandra Das has been the most popular, but it includes some biased terms.

In 1985, Trinley Qoizha, former president of the Tibet People’s Publishing House, and his colleagues published a Tibetan-Chinese dictionary after eight years of concerted efforts. It includes 53,000 entries.

“The dictionary is getting thicker, more professional and encyclopedic, which is strong proof of Tibet’s cultural development,” said Wangchug, 69, a Tibetan language translator.

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