Guifan 3rd Edition

lutenedm

Member
I saw on another thread that you guys plan to update to the new third edition of the Xiandai Hanyu Guifan Cidian. I've heard through the grapevine that the 3rd edition has become politicized and the quality has gone down. For a dictionary like Guifan, which both adds and removes terms with each new edition, have you ever considered offering multiple editions in Pleco, so that users aren't forced to upgrade?
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
To be honest, they didn't change that much; there are only about 2000 actual changes across the entire 73,000-entry dictionary, at least in the data files they gave us, and the vast majority of those are minor corrections and clarifications; I'm not seeing any signs of politicization or a decline in quality, they haven't really modified enough of the dictionary to effect such a change.

Did the grapevine give you any specific examples of changes they considered problematic? And are you sure they were referring to this dictionary and not to the 现代汉语词典?
 

lutenedm

Member
To be honest, they didn't change that much; there are only about 2000 actual changes across the entire 73,000-entry dictionary, at least in the data files they gave us, and the vast majority of those are minor corrections and clarifications; I'm not seeing any signs of politicization or a decline in quality, they haven't really modified enough of the dictionary to effect such a change.

Did the grapevine give you any specific examples of changes they considered problematic? And are you sure they were referring to this dictionary and not to the 现代汉语词典?
Well, I guess my source isn't that reliable: I heard it from a friend who heard it from a guy he met who works for the publisher. If you have the actual data files, then I believe you. I think that my original question above is still valid, though: it isn't necessarily the case that new editions are always better than old editions. If you did run into a new edition of a dictionary that didn't seem to be an improvement, what would you do?
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
Well it would depend both on the licensing situation and on the complexity of the dictionary - GF is tricky because we have to add / change a lot (almost no 繁体字, e.g.), so maintaining two editions would mean that every time we find a bug we have to update it in both of them. But the ABCs and the Oxford Chinese Dictionary we pretty much use verbatim, so maintaining two editions of those would be comparatively easy.

We're actually approaching a situation like this now with the new edition of PLC - they changed rather a lot in that, mostly for the good (adding parts of speech and taking away a lot of the Communist-era example sentences) but removed enough old content that we think people might still want the old version around in what we're tempted to call a 同志版. With that, however, we think we can probably get away with not fixing bugs in the old edition once we launch the new one, since the interest in it would be mainly for nostalgia / curiosity / amusement rather than as a serious reference.
 

朱真明

进士
Whilst we are on the Gui Fan topic, I really appreciate being able to read the Gui Fan in Fan Ti Zi but was wondering why is it that the bottom aspect of the definition commonly called 注意 is always in Jian Ti Zi? The same goes for the 漢語大詞典, it too also has a mixture of Fan Ti Zi and Jian Ti Zi and sometimes the Fan Ti and Jian Ti are mixed together which looks like that could be an error. I guess I should also mention the Zhong Shan medical dictionary, is there some reason why this dictionary cannot have Fan Ti Zi?

Many Thanks

朱真明
 
@lutenedm Would be great if you could point out some examples of these politicized entries. Spotted a couple of them before on my own in the current version and now you made me check a few others I thought would be good candidates but so far everything I saw has been fairly mild, nothing too spectacular.
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
@朱真明 - that 注意 section is kept in jianti because it frequently discusses issues of character appearance or components, so it becomes nonsensical in fanti. However, since this generates a lot of complaints, for the 3rd edition we're planning to only keep the bits in quotation marks (the characters being explained / broken down) in jianti and convert the explanations themselves to fanti.

With the Zhongshan dictionary the issue is that a huge % of the vocabulary in that dictionary is actually different in Taiwan; transliterations of English words that were invented after 1949. So a fanti conversion would be inaccurate to the point of near-uselessness. If a Taiwanese publisher was willing to offer us a Taiwanese-English medical dictionary at a good price we'd be happy to work with them, but it would need to be Taiwan-specific to have any value.

With 漢語大詞典 there's actually a mix - quotations are in their original character set, definitions are generally in simplified and headwords in traditional - and while we did make sure the headwords were viewable / searchable in both sets, for the bodies of definitions we felt that with a work of such scholarly importance we should leave things as is rather than potentially introduce errors by converting it to traditional. Even the CD edition of HDC published by Commercial Press in Hong Kong uses simplified characters where the original one does.

To be honest, I'm just not sure if it's worth the investment to make every monolingual we license support both character sets - I tend to think that most of the people who are interested in something like HDC are probably conversant with both sets anyway. I know that a few people have deep-seated moral objections to jianti, and I certainly respect that, but I don't think that we can necessarily justify investing resources in fanti conversions for the sake of that group alone, particularly not when they're likely to introduce errors. (and this isn't just a jianti issue, LMA and GZH are both fanti-only)
 

朱真明

进士
I was never aware of the process to convert Fan Ti and Jian Ti, I thought it was built into the software and could be done automatically, although I was aware of the issue when the wrong character gets chosen.
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
Yeah, that's the number of errors we end up with even after manually proofreading a lot of them :)
 

alex_hk90

状元
I was never aware of the process to convert Fan Ti and Jian Ti, I thought it was built into the software and could be done automatically, although I was aware of the issue when the wrong character gets chosen.
Converting Traditional to Simplified can be done automatically almost perfectly, but the other way is much harder because you are starting with less information (fewer different characters) and ending with more information (more different characters).
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
It's true, there are only a few specific traditional-to-simplifed cases where you need to check things by hand - honestly a big part of why we don't bother doing more in that direction with our traditional-only dictionaries is that nobody seems to care; we get far more complaints about the simplified characters in HDC from traditional users than we do about the traditional characters in it from simplified users, e.g.
 

bokane

举人
So strongly agreed on the 簡體/繁体 debate. Anyone who's serious about Chinese will be able to read both; anyone who complains about one character set versus another is by definition not a serious student of the language. Hard to imagine someone with a genuine need for HDC being shocked by the presence of simplified characters.
 

朱真明

进士
It's not about being shocked, it's about being consistent. If you are going to use fan ti for parts of the dictionary, why not use it for the whole dictionary? Turns out there is a good reason for that, why do you feel the need to appeal to emotions and try to demean others that are studying Chinese "by definition"?
 

bokane

举人
You're quite right -- sorry. I've gotten into a couple of pointless arguments with anti-简体 people in the last week or so, and I ended up bringing my grumpiness in here. My apologies.
 

朱真明

进士
No problem, I agree with the point that people should be able to read both 簡體 and 繁體. Although I'm not a big fan of 簡體 myself, given the copious amounts of literature produced using 簡體, dismissing it would be quite foolish.
 

bokane

举人
Oh, sure - nothing at all wrong with having personal preferences. (And obviously 繁體 are slightly prettier.) I just get annoyed by claims that simplified characters somehow "destroy the purity of the ancient etc.etc.etc." when they're really not that different at all.
 

richwarm

Member
OP (lutenedm) wrote:
1) "I've heard through the grapevine that the 3rd edition has become politicized and the quality has gone down."
2) "Guifan ... adds and removes terms with each new edition."
3) "I heard it from a friend who heard it from a guy he met who works for the publisher."

That third comment makes it sound like Chinese Whispers. Maybe the notion that Guifan has become politicized is a garbled version of the fact that in adding some dozens of new words in the 3rd edition, they rejected unwholesome words like 屌丝 and 剩女, but accepted a word like 正能量, which had been embraced by the Chinese government itself, as in "A senior Chinese Internet official on Wednesday called on major websites to become a force to "spread positive energy" [正能量] and play a leading role in guiding public opinion."

While it does seem ludicrous to exclude a word like 剩女, it's probably an exaggeration to suggest that the overall quality of the dictionary has gone down. I doubt that assertion #2 is true. It's probably just that in selecting a small number of new words for each new edition, they have made a few controversial choices.

Ref:
https://sinosphere.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/08/31/whats-in-a-word-a-chinese-dictionary-updates/?_php=true&_type=blogs&module=BlogPost-Title&version=Blog+Main&contentCollection=Featured&action=Click&pgtype=Blogs&region=Body&_r=2
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
Definitely a joke - not impossible but the work involved would vastly exceed the customer benefit :)
 
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