The Ricci-Shangwu Chinese-French Dictionary

At the end of August 2014, Beijing Commercial Press (or Shangwu, one of the biggest Chinese publishing house, owner of the Xinhua Dictionary, the world's most popular reference work) launched a volume more than 2,000 pages: The Ricci-Shangwu Chinese-French Dictionary, a revised and shortened edition of the "Grand Ricci", the seven-volume dictionary published in 2001 by the Ricci Institutes of Taipei and Paris. (Since then, the two Institutes have entrusted the Ricci Association with moral and financial rights over the work.)

From the first contact between the Ricci Institutes and Beijing Commercial Press more fifteen years have passed... But it was worth the wait: Shangwu has come out with an exceptional production, enhancing the work conducted by Jesuits and Sinologists in the preceding decades, and ensuring that this volume will be a long-term reference work. Lexicographic choices and corrections have been scrupulously made, and expressions coming from contemporary Chinese have been introduced without weakening the strong anchoring of the Ricci into the history of Chinese thought, culture and classical language. The team involved during fifteen years in the work has been surprisingly stable and steady, and, among all partners involved, esteem and trust has grown continuously.

The origin of the Grand Ricci leads one back to the Bureau of Sinological Studies launched by the Zikawei Jesuits in the 1880s and to the work conducted by FF. Leon Wieger and Seraphin Couvreur in Hebei Province at around the same time. After 1949, it was referenced by FF Eugen Zsamar, Yves Raguin, Jean Lefeuvre and Claude Larre among others, as well as by Fr Yves Camus now based at the Macao Ricci Institute. The time had come for this emblematic work of Jesuit Sinology to return to Mainland China, and to do so under the auspices of the best Chinese lexicographic institution. The publication of the Shangwu-Ricci dictionary is more than an editorial event: anchored into a long history, it is a sign of continued friendship, faithfulness and hope.

(Written by Benoit Vermander for

Read the article in French on