A Cultural Dictionary of The Chinese Language: 500 Proverbs, Idioms and Maxims, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

A Cultural Dictionary of The Chinese Language

500 Proverbs, Idioms and Maxims, 1st Edition

By Liwei Jiao


184 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

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A Cultural Dictionary of the Chinese Language introduces the 500 most important cultural traits of the Chinese as reflected in language use, especially in Chinese idioms, chengyu, proverbs and colloquial expressions, suyu.

Communicative competence, the ultimate goal of language learning, consists of not only linguistic, but intercultural competence, which enables the language learner to speak with fluency and understanding. The Chinese language is richly imbued with cultural wisdoms and values underlying the appropriateness of idioms in the Chinese language.

The Dictionary provides Intermediate and B1-C1 level learners as well as scholars of the Chinese language with an essential reference book as well as a useful cultural reader.


"A Cultural Dictionary of the Chinese Language is less a dictionary than a well-indexed compendium of cultural insights and lore embedded in Chinese linguistic usages, aphorisms, and epigrams. Professor Jiao modestly asserts that it is aimed at intermediate students of China, its language, and culture, but even the most advanced (and some native speakers) will find it informative and insightful. This is a must-have reference for anyone seeking to understand the sources of Chinese behavior." Chas W. Freeman, Jr., Ambassdador (Ret.), principal American interpreter during President Nixon's path-breaking 1972 visit to Beijing.

Table of Contents

Introduction | List of Entries | A Cultural Dictionary of the Chinese Language Part 1: Overall (总论) Part II: National Character (民族性格) Part III: Religion, Philosophy, Politics, History (宗教, 哲学, 政治, 历史) Part IV: Life, Society, Arts, Literature (生活, 社会, 艺术, 文学) Part V: Social Relations, Family, Women, Education (社会关系, 家庭, 女人, 教育) Part VI: Nature, Animals, Language (自然, 动物, 语言) | Appendix One: English index of entries | Appendix Two: Alphabetical index of Chinese entries | Appendix Three: Alphabetical index of Chinese expressions in footnote | Appendix Four: Index of entries by their cultural value | Appendix Five: A brief chronology of Chinese history (to 1912)

About the Author

Liwei Jiao is Lecturer of Chinese at Brown University, USA. Besides his rich experience of teaching Chinese at various levels at Renmin University of China, the University of Durham and University of Pennsylvania for 20 years, he publishes extensively in Chinese phraseology, language and culture, and Chinese phonetics. Among his many publications are 500 Common Chinese Idioms (co-authored, Routledge 2010), 500 Common Chinese Proverbs and Colloquial Expressions (co-authored, Routledge 2013), Crossing Cultural Boundaries (co-authored, Routledge 2009, 2015) and A Thematic Dictionary of Contemporary Chinese (co-authored, Routledge 2019). He is a contributor to the Routledge Encyclopedia of the Chinese Language (ed. by Sin-Wai Chan, 2016) and Encyclopedia of China (3rd Edition, forthcoming).

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