kjthistory (kjthistory) wrote in linguaphiles,

Was my forebear's Mandarin dictionary any good?

One of my ggg-grandfathers had a brother named George Carter Stent, who was born in Canterbury (Kent, England) about 1831. As part of my family history research, I'm writing up a narrative of his life.

Amongst a number of other works, in 1871 George published "A Chinese and English Vocabulary in the Pekinese Dialect" followed in 1874 by "A Chinese and English Pocket Dictionary".

I have read that George was the first person to produce a Mandarin/English dictionary, and that it was a significant work of scholarship. I get the slight hint that people were surprised at the quality of his work because he had no higher education, being “only” from a family who had a market garden and greengrocer’s shop. (It’s clear from his autobiography, though, that he considered his family a cut above that of some of the other soldiers he encountered on joining up).

So I have some questions for speakers and students of Mandarin:

1) Have you heard of George Carter Stent? Did he do a good job? That is, was his work thought accurate and useful at the time?

2) Is his work still relevant today? Is it still used and useful? (If you think it's rubbish, do feel free to say so, but it would be good if you could do it nicely!)

3) Was he truly the first? Was his work a genuine departure from whatever had gone before? Or was it more of a development, an evolution building on others’ work?

4) Anything else you can tell me about him!

(I am a regular commenter here under my fandom id, but I'm using my family history account for this because there are links out there between the Stent surname and my real name, which I don't want leading back to my fandom LJ).
Tags: chinese, dictionaries, mandarin

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