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Wise Words

Mark Elvin

3 July 1980
The Pinyin Chinese-English Dictionary 
edited by Wu Jingrong.
Commercial Press (Peking and Hong Kong)/Pitman, 976 pp., £12, November 1979, 0 273 08454 2
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... This is a dictionary of a language that does not yet quite exist. If this seems a paradoxical way to talk of standard modern Chinese, the paradox is easily enough resolved by a brief account of its origins. Let us, for the sake of simplicity, take the spoken and the written languages separately. The subdialects spoken in the northern part of China have long been a mosaic of vernaculars that are more ...

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