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A questionnaire for each encyclopedia

Each encyclopedic work has its own unique way of transmitting words, “facts” and ideas from the writer and compiler to the recipient. A work does not need to have the term “encyclopedia” in its title, but we count as “encyclopedic work” those that follow the:

The Encyclopedic Principle and
Definition of an Encyclopedia.

(Websites of Project D11 "Hidden Grammars of Transculturality - Migrations of Encyclopaedic Knowledge and Power") 

Our database strives to give an overview on the nature of these particular encyclopedic works. European encyclopedias of the 17th to 20th century follow different structures; some provide a comprehensive alphabetical list of all knowledge considered relevant, other works focus on a certain number of topics. The English Chamber’s Information for the People for example, has the strict structure of 100 topics, each consisting of exactly 15 pages of text and illustrations. Other works like Noel Chomel’s Dictionnaire Oeconomique contain entries with the extent of one line to several pages. For some works it is even hard to define a clear line between encyclopedia, dictionary, anthology, travel notes, or other genres. The two examples above were both translated into Japanese and partly also into other Asian languages. It is possible that the 100 topics of Chambers resulted in the Japanese and Chinese word today for encyclopedia – “full book of 100 topics” (hyakka zensho / baike quanshu 百科全書).

Especially at the turn of the 20th century in China, when the new concept of an organized, systematic provision of knowledge in the form of an encyclopedia hit the increasing book market, can we observe a great variety of approaches to handle the huge influx of new ideas and terms. The way of how they were pooled and displayed in a book was – among others - influenced by the tradition of the Chinese leishu, by the practices of the publisher and the editing circumstances - whether it was a mere translation of a foreign work, or a rather independent scholarly undertaking -, by the background of the author and compiler - as many of them went to foreign countries before or were able to speak foreign languages, which enabled them to read Western encyclopedias by themselves and to make a more solid judgment about the way of how these works could be adapted or not be adapted for the contemporary Chinese situation -, by its degree of market orientation and by the exact time, when a publication came out. So, even the decision of what can be counted as an encyclopedia is sometimes hard to make, as they are completely different in style and content. Apart from the way of how these books came into being it is important to investigate the influence and success of every project and finding out possible explanations for their market performance and intellectual impact.

To ease the research on this important topic for everybody who is interested and make the different works more comparable, we regard it as fruitful to provide a handy overview about the most important features of the encyclopedias. So every encyclopedia in the database is accompanied by the following information, as far as they are known to us:   


The questionnaire can also be downloaded as Word document here.

The tables are just a help to gather the data. In the next step, the data has to go into the TEI Header of the xml file. How to do this, please see page:

Questionnaire into TEI.

  • <sourceDesc> : bibliographical data




Other editions

Authors, editors


Physical description


  • Lemma-organization
  • Availability of Table of contents
  • Availability of an Index
  • Covered topics

History of manuscript

  • <profileDesc> : info beyond bibliographical data

Background info on authors/editors

Publication circumstances
and short info on the publisher


Genre and style

  • Channel
  • Constitution
  • Derivation
  • Domain
  • Factuality
  • Interaction
  • Preparedness
  • Purpose
  • [filename]-annotations.xml:  Info from other sources, or own analysis

Translations of Prefaces

Analyses of Prefaces


Advertisements for this book from other sources: digitized fulltext here.

Analyses of Advertisements

Analysis of advertisements in the book (for other books)
Analysis of advertisements for this book (from other sources)


(Analysis of who was intended and actual readership; do we have any info from anywhere? E.g. cost of the book, circulation numbers, numbers of reprints, intended readership mentioned in preface, info from other primary or secondary sources, hints from the advertisements, references in diaries of readers, mentioning of the book in other books. Write as text.)

“Hidden grammars”

(= underlying assumptions, world views, arguments, motives) in the work; e.g. socialist view, argument that all Western sciences originate in China, is the work written from a native perspective, other interesting points…)

Secondary literature

 (Research papers dealing with this work)


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