TRON News Items for July 2001

K'ang Hsi Dictionary for BTRON Available in September

Personal Media Corporation announced on July 6 that it will begin marketing at the end of September two CD-ROM versions of the K'ang Hsi Dictionary for the BTRON3-specification B-right/V R3 operating system, which is marketed in Japan as Cho Kanji 3. The standard version of the product, "Cho Kanji Kooki Jiten [Cho Kanji K'ang Hsi Dictionary]," will be sold via direct sales in a two-disk set for 25,000 yen (click here for a screen shot [1]), and the high definition version will be sold in a set of several disks for 98,000 yen. Both prices do not include the Japanese consumption tax.

For those unfamiliar with the study of Chinese characters, the K'ang Hsi--also written as Kang Xi--Dictionary is an unabridged Chinese character dictionary that occupies a place in East Asian language circles similar to that that the Oxford English Dictionary enjoys in the English speaking world. It has also been used in the printing industry as the source for creating Chinese character printing type. This dictionary was completed in 1716 during the Ch'ing dynasty (the Manchu dynasty that ran from 1644 to 1912) in the reign of the second emperor, K'ang Hsi (1662 - 1722), hence the name of the dictionary [2].

The original K'ang Hsi Dictionary was compiled by a team of 30 scholars over a period of five years. It spans 42 volumes, and it lists 47,035 main entries. What is noteworthy about the K'ang Hsi Dictionary is not just the large number of characters, but the system by which they are indexed. The Chinese scholars classified the characters according to 214 radicals, or significant elements, and then listed characters under each element according to the number of strokes required to write it. This system is still in use in the Chinese character dictionaries on the market today in China, Japan, and Korea.

The Cho Kanji Kooki Jiten CD-ROMs are filled with graphic images from two versions of the K'ang Hsi Dictionary: (1) a copy of the Chinese original, called the Naifubon in Japanese, which is stored in the Institute of Oriental Culture at the University of Tokyo; and (2) a Japanized version of the original called the An'eibon, which dates from the Edo period (1780). The characters in both of these versions have been digitally indexed using the Chinese character resources of the Cho Kanji 3 operating system, and thus they can easily and rapidly be searched using the system's Character Search utility.

Up to now, it has been very difficult for East Asian linguists and printing industry type specialists to view the originals of both of these dictionaries. Now, thanks to the marvels of computer science, anyone will be able to purchase a facsimile of the original and scan through it extremely quickly. Those interested in placing an order should contact Personal Media Sales Department at:


[1] The screen shot shows the Naifubon of the K'ang Hsi Dictionary in a small active window, the An'eibon in a larger inactive window, and the Character Search panel, which has just been used to search for a character that appears in both of the windows.

[2] Exactly who the first emperor of the Ch'ing dynasty was depends on when one concludes the Ch'ing dynasty began. If one concludes it began in 1644, then K'ang Hsi is the second emperor. The problem is that the previous dynasty, Ming, did not disappear suddenly. In fact, the Manchus fought against the remnants of it into the 1680s.