Fair highlight from Bernard Quaritch Ltd


Chinese–English dictionary and commercial vocabulary

TANG, Tingshu (T‘ONG, Ting-kü).  (Ying ü Tsap Ts‘ün) or the Chinese and English Instructor.  Canton. 1862.

6 vols, 8vo., with a title-page and Preface in English in volume I, followed by a Chinese titlepage; the dictionary-phrasebook portions of the text printed in six columns per page with English transliterations and translations printed vertically alongside the Chinese; a fine copy, stitched as issued in the original wrappers, printed cover labels to vols I and VI, cover labels preserved loose in vols IV and V; contemporary wooden case, one board sometime repaired, cloth ties.

An excellent copy of a very scarce Chinese–English commercial vocabulary, dictionary and phrasebook, ‘written by … a native of Canton province, in the Canton dialect, chiefly to suit the people who have transactions, or are connected, with foreigners.  The words are first given in Chinese; then, the pronunciation of such words, written in English; then, the meaning of such words in the English language; and lastly the pronunciation of the English words written in Chinese, so that the book is not only useful for Chinese to learn English, but at the same time it will enable foreigners to learn Chinese’ (Preface).

The author was an important comprador for the Jardine trading business in the 1860s and the phrasebook has a decidedly commercial slant.  The words are organized under useful topical headings, from ‘Atronomy’ and ‘Ranks and titles’ to ‘The student’s apparatus – stationery’, and ‘Mechanical implements’, followed by sections on numbers, weights and measures etc.  Volume V is a dictionary organised alphabetically by the English word, volume VI is a Chinese to English phrasebook in the form of conversations on, for example, the work of a comprador – paying bills, spotting false coin etc.

OCLC shows copies at New South Wales, California State, Michigan and Auckland only; COPAC adds National Library of Scotland and SOAS.

Bernard Quaritch Ltd, 40 South Audley Street, London, W1K 2PR, UK