Abstract

Abstract:

Faster access to information was an overwhelming concern for Chinese reformists during the Republican era (1912–1949). They claimed that the nonalphabetical nature of Chinese characters presented obstacles to indexing, a fundamental technology for efficient information access and retrieval. In a matter of three decades, nearly one hundred new indices were invented for Chinese characters. Competition over which indices would prevail was fierce, especially among dictionary publishers, which stood to benefit greatly in the nascent Chinese dictionary market. This article follows the two main publishing houses in China, Commercial Press and Zhonghua Press, that invented indices in order to dominate the market from the founding of the republic in 1912 to the start of the war against Japan in 1937. As dozens of inventors of indices made clear, however, indexing technologies were situated within a larger social context, and the invention and destruction of indices were sites of political and financial contestation.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2166-3033
Print ISSN
2164-8034
Pages
pp. 337-366
Launched on MUSE
2018-11-07
Open Access
No
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