Literary Quotations in Bilingual Dictionaries: A Case Study of a Nineteenth-century Dutch–Chinese Dictionary

  • Audrey Heijns School of Foreign Languages, Shenzhen University, Guangdong, China
Keywords: literary quotations, bilingual dictionaries, Dutch, Chinese, nineteenth century, lexicographical practice, role of the compiler


The phenomenon of literary quotations in dictionaries finds its origin in the days when the search for equivalents was intertextual rather than interlingual based. For both monolin­gual and bilingual dictionaries the purpose of literary quotations is to supply evidence of usage and illuminate the meaning of the relevant headword, with the difference that for bilingual dic­tionaries this is done via translation. This article examines this phenomenon in a nineteenth century Dutch–Chinese dictionary by analysing sample sentences that the compiler has extracted from original Chinese texts. Discussion of examples from different types of text will probe the function­ing of the quotations and the intention of the compiler. The inclusion of the quotations in the dic­tionary appear to be the result of both linguistic and cultural intention, in the sense that they are revealing of the syntax of Chinese but also aspects of Chinese culture. These findings will contrib­ute to the understanding of the practice of the inclusion of literary quotations in bilingual dictionaries and the role of the compiler in introducing foreign cultural aspects.