China and Inner Asia
Guangdong University of Finance and Economics
Jean-Pierre Abel-Rémusat (1788-1832) compiled the Chinese-French dictionary manuscript Dictionnaire Chinois, traditionally dated 1808. Having revisited the dictionary manuscript and examined its macro- and micro-structure, this article confirms that Abel-Rémusat finished his first draft in 1808. However, after tracing many of the later references to Dictionnaire chinois, français et latin published in 1813 by Chrétien-Louis-Joseph de Guignes (1759-1845), we are able to redate the manuscript. This discovery allows us to interpret how Abel-Rémusat at first compensated for the limited availability of Chinese dictionaries by inventing his own system for retrieving Chinese characters and, later, corrected his system as soon as he was able to consult more dictionaries in 1813. Furthermore, because Abel-Rémusat meticulously included references to his many and varied sources, this manuscript tells the story of how the availability of resources affected his experience of dictionary making.