Lu Gusun, lexicographer and Shakespeare scholar (1940-2016)

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Among many other accounts in English and in Chinese of Lu Gusun's 陆谷孙 passing on July 28, there are two articles in Shanghai Daily that are worthy of mention.  Yesterday, there was an initial, brief announcement,

"Noted English literature professor Lu Gusun passes away at 76" (7/28/16) by Chen Huizhi.

Today, there is a much longer article by Chen Huizhi and Wang Yanlin, "Lu Gusun, celebrated professor and lexicographer, dies aged 76" (7/29/16).

Lù Gǔsūn 陆谷孙 was well known as the chief editor of China's first major English-Chinese dictionary (Yīng-Hàn dà cídiǎn 英汉大词典), an award-winning 4,212-page work in two volumes, with more than 200,000 entries and over 16 million characters.  Lu started working on the dictionary in 1976, and the second volume of the dictionary appeared in 1991.  Compilation and revision for a second edition of the dictionary began in 2001 and was completed in 2007.

On the rigors of lexicography, Lu once said (as quoted in the second Shanghai Daily article):

“The process of dictionary compilation is always plagued by the four Ds — namely, delays, deficits, delinquencies and deficiencies. But there is spiritual ecstasy that you can hardly experience elsewhere.”

It is evident from this quotation that Lu was thinking in English when he formulated that dictum.

In this Chinese article about him, Lu is reported to have said that compiling dictionaries is like being a cook; if you don't like the heat of preparing food, stay out of the kitchen.

Lu Gusun spent his whole academic career at Fudan University in Shanghai, first as a student and later as a professor in the Department of English in the School of Foreign Languages and Literature

For more details of Lu's academic career, see this website of Fudan Development Institute.

[h.t. Ben Zimmer]


  1. Michael Rank said,

    July 29, 2016 @ 3:57 pm

    I don’t want to detract in the least from Professor Lu who was surely a great scholar, but I would take issue with the claim that he edited “China’s first major English-Chinese dictionary.” Let us not forget about the very substantial (1689 pp) A New English-Chinese Dictionary 新英汉词典,上海人民出版社,1975. An essential work in its day and still useful, and unlike most dictionaries it created a sensation among the few journalists and students who were around when it came out because it includes the word “fuck.” It describes “fuck” as [美俚] which is a bit of an understatement and of course it’s not exclusively American. The dictionary defines the meanings of this lexeme rather innocently as 1 欺骗 2 利用…, includes such sayings as “∼ a duck” and “Fuck you Charley!”. It has a separate entry for “fucked”. I have scanned the entry here I stress that in making these somewhat flippant remarks I don’t want to downplay the scholarship of the late Professor Lu, but I couldn’t resist mentioning this other notable dictionary.

  2. Michael Rank said,

    July 29, 2016 @ 4:35 pm

    I now see from Wikipedia that Prof Lu was in fact highly involved in A New English Chinese Dictionary 新英汉词典: 1970年,参加《新英汉词典》编写,是词典的主要设计者和定稿人, as well as in 英汉大词典. I note that 新英汉词典 is now in its fourth edition (2009), see also (which notes that the new edition has an entries for “plastic soup” and “hypermiling”, whatever they are exactly).

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