Taiwanese, Spanish scholars locate world’s largest and oldest extant Spanish-Chinese dictionary in UST Archives; MoA signed for publication of facsimile

Dr. Fabio Yu-Chung Lee of the National Tsing-Hua University (Taiwan) Institute of History and Dr. José Luis Caño Ortigosa of the Universidad de Sevilla discovered what turned out to be the largest and earliest Spanish-Chinese dictionario, in their research at the Archivo de la Universidad de Santo Tomas in early 2017.

A book labeled initially as vale poco (of little value, due to inapplicability for contemporary use) turned out to be a 17th-century Spanish-Chinese dictionary that links to the Spanish occupation of Taiwan from 1626 to 1642. With 21,000 characters and words, the Dictionario is so far the largest and earliest of its kind, now antedating the Kangxi Dictionary started in Barcelona in 1711. The Dictionario in UST contains Spanish, Mandarin, and Hoklo (Taiwan’s local language) entries.

Last December 14, 2017, the Memorandum of Agreement was signed between UST and NTHU to publish a facsimile to reach a wider public. Following the signing, UST Archivist Regalado T. Jose, MCH delivered a lecture entitled “Chinese materials in the Archives and Library of the University of Santo Tomas in Manila.” Jose’s activities in Taiwan likewise involved a visit and lecture to Academia Sinica, Taiwan’s highest research university.

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