I often write about new words in new editions of English dictionaries on this blog, but today I'm going to look at the latest (11th) edition of the Xinhua Chinese dictionary.
Trendy young Chinese have been using bai bai for years instead of the Chinese for 'goodbye' and bai bai has finally entered the dictionary. Another entry is Xueli men, which translates as 'diploma gate' and is based on the model of Watergate. It refers to the practice of using fake college degrees to get a job. Fang nu means 'house slave' and is a person whose only goal is to buy a house. Nu means 'slave' and also appears tagged on to the words 'car' and 'credit card'.
I wrote a post at the end of last year on Chinese buzzwords of 2010, and at Number One was the Chinese equivalent of the trendy slang 'awesome'. That word (geili in Chinese) did not make it into the latest edition of the dictionary. A senior editor said the word did not contribute to new knowledge or new science and did not reflect changes in society, hence it was not included.
A number of words that were in previous editions have been taken out of this one because they are considered obsolete. They include kerosene, horsepower, motor, phone and agricultural co-operative.
Not only have about 800 new entries been added to the dictionary, but about 1500 traditional Chinese characters have also been added (13,000 characters in total are included).
Dictionaries in China have a long and illustrious history. The oldest dictionary was compiled in the 3rd century BC (the first English dictionary, as a point of comparison, was in 1604). Another early dictionary, and the first to analyse the structure of Chinese characters was in the 2nd century AD. The influential dictionary that popularised the system of 214 radicals was written in 1710.
I wrote a post a couple of years ago about how Chinese dictionaries were ordered, including an order based on the 214 radicals. Someone more knowledgeable than me gave more information in a comment on the post.
Here's an article from China Daily about the new Xinhua Dictionary.