World’s oldest and largest Spanish-Chinese dictionary found in UST

Spanish and Taiwanese students have found the world’s oldest extant and largest Spanish-Chinese dictionary on the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Archives.

The 400-year-old “Dictionario Hispanico Sinicum” (DHS) gives not solely the Chinese characters and Mandarin phrases to Spanish phrases, but additionally their equal in Hokkien, the language spoken in Taiwan and Fujian province in southeastern China the place a lot of immediately’s abroad Chinese got here from.

In the Philippines, many Chinese communicate “Fookien” or “Philippine Hokkien.”

Ironically, the dictionary, cataloged in the UST Archives as “Vocabulario Espanol-Chino con caracteres chinos (Tomo 215),” was found with the label, “vale muy poco,” that’s, “of little value” for up to date use.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” mentioned Henning Klotter of Humboldt University in Berlin. He defined the dictionary is “the most comprehensive collection of Hokkien lexical items” of its time. “[H]istorians will [also] find a wealth of information on the early history of the Spanish-Chinese encounter in the Philippines.”

Cultural genocide

The discovery is seen by students and cultural activists as serving to counteract the Mandarin-only coverage being enforced by the Chinese Communist Party, which critics name a type of cultural genocide directed towards regional languages and communities such because the Cantonese in Hong Kong and Guangzhou.

Compiled and edited in the primary half of the 1600s by Spanish Dominican missionaries in Manila, DHS is believed to be not less than 70 years older than the Kangxi Dictionary, the usual Chinese dictionary ordered made by the emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynastly and first revealed in 1716.

UST archivist and ecclesiastical historian Regalado Trota Jose linked the dictionary to the Spanish occupation of Taiwan between 1626 and 1642.

Fabio Yu-Chung Lee from National Tsing-Hua University (NTHU) in Taiwan and José Luis Caño Ortigosa from the Universidad de Sevilla, who found DCS whereas researching on the UST Archives, agreed with Jose. They mentioned an entry in DHS had a Spanish sentence for instance for the usage of a time period: “Tierra de Isla Hermosa ado estan los españoles”—“on the island of Hermosa, a land owned by the Spanish.” “Hermosa” is the Spanish equal of Formosa, Taiwan’s previous title, which suggests “beautiful.”

DHS likewise used a sure time period that indicated the Ming dynasty was nonetheless current when it was being edited. The Chinese dynasty lasted from the 14th century until 1644.

Deeply spectacular

Facsimile version of the dictionary revealed by the National Tsing-Hua University of Taiwan

“We were deeply impressed,” mentioned Lee and Caño. DHS “consisted of a total 1,103 pages and 27,000 vocabulary.”

Kangxi might have 40,000 entries, however the UST dictionary is extra linguistically various, since its entries are in Spanish, Chinese characters, Mandarin, Hokkien and even Tagalog.

Each web page has 4 blocks left to proper, containing Spanish phonetics, Chinese characters, and “Zhangzhou” (or Hokkien) and Mandarin phonetics.

Jose mentioned DHS likewise comprises Tagalog phrases, akin to “arigue” (home put up), “bahaque” (G-string), “camanguian” (incense), “mabolo” (a fruit), “paypay” (fan), “tangingue” (a fish), and “vilango” (prisoner). “Thus we get imperfect glimpses of what the Spaniards, Fujianese, Taiwanese and Tagalogs encountered with each other and among themselves,” the UST archivist defined.

Lee and Caño mentioned the dictionary would support in understanding Taiwan’s historical past.

“For example, there was this term ‘chaoyin’ that appeared in Qing Taiwan documents,” they mentioned. “[DHS] actually showed that chaoyin was actually a translation of… ‘bahaque’ (‘cloth that covered genitals’).” They added that in his 18th-century work, “Taihai Shichalu (Records from the Mission to Taiwan and its Strait),” Qing dynasty official Shu-Jing Huang described the clothes of the Taiwan aborigines: “the rich wore dark cloth for garment and beige cloth for chaoyin.”

Hokkien coauthors

Founded in 1611 by the Dominicans, UST is the oldest college in Asia. Its archives and heritage library include incunabula and uncommon books and historic paperwork, together with one in historic “baybayin” syllabary, declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines.

UST’s holdings additionally embrace historic dictionaries and grammars made by the Dominicans and different friar-missionaries in their work of evangelization in the nation and round Asia, together with “Vocabulario de la Lengua Espanola y China,” a lot celebrated by students.

Scholars are actually toasting the invention of DHS.

Klotter mentioned DHS ought to be “appreciated by linguists interested in the history of bilingual Chinese-Western lexicography, Hokkien language history, Hokkien writing traditions and related fields.”

Jose linked the dictionary to the ministry of the Dominicans among the many Chinese in Binondo and the parian since their arrival in the Philippines in 1587.

“It shows how involved UST was with the Chinese community [in Manila]… This is a very important material for the study of Philippine-Chinese relations,” Jose mentioned.

But the Dominicans couldn’t have compiled the entries with out the cooperation of Hokkienese in Manila. In a means they had been coeditors of DHS, Lee and Caño mentioned.

“In addition to the broadness of content, the most valuable part of these Hokkien-Spanish documents is the authorship,” mentioned Yi Long-hua of NTHU. “Most works that resulted from Sino-Western interactions were usually written by Europeans from their perspectives… Hokkien-Spanish dictionaries coedited by both communities provide an exciting new avenue of inquiry.”

Detail from the dictionary reveals the entry “Dios” (God) with its Chinese character and equal “Tai-chi” being crossed out by the Dominican editor, who labelled it “erehia” or “heretical,” a hint of the Chinese rites battle in the seventeenth century between the Dominicans and the Jesuits.

Chinese rites controversy

DHS ought to present the Dominicans had been in search of to evangelize China, utilizing Taiwan as a base to ship missionaries to Fukien, then from there increasing to different elements of China. But this pitted them towards the Jesuits, ensuing in the Chinese rites controversy, in which the friars efficiently pressured the Holy See to cease the Jesuits from condoning Chinese ancestral worship.

The controversy has traces in DHS, mentioned Lee and Caño. “Amusingly the manuscript, which [is] 400 years old, was also a witness to the epic event and left behind its own historical traces: In the manuscript the word ‘Dios’ was originally translated into Chinese characters as ‘Tianzhu’ and ‘Taichi.’ But due to the effects of the Chinese rites controversy, a … Dominican, who was obviously against Chinese traditional culture, crossed out ‘Taichi’ and added next to it the term ‘[h]erehia’ (‘heresy’).”

Lee and Caño mentioned that DHS ought to be included in the Memory of the World mission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco).

“[DHS] is a rare material that could verify the close ties between Hokkien migrants, Spaniards and Filipinos in the 17th century,” the students mentioned. “It possesses extraordinary research value, and its significance matches the standards of the Unesco Memory of the World project. [It is an] asset that integrated the linguistic wisdom of the Hokkien, Spanish and Filipino peoples.”

A facsimile version of DHS, edited by Jose, Lee, Caño and Tsung-jen Chen, has been revealed by NTHU Press with help from Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange, Tsao Yung-Ho Foundation of Culture and Education, and Hispanic-Taiwanese Association of Cultural Exchange. —CONTRIBUTED

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