Province to probe 'fake' student dictionaries

Updated: 2013-05-07 07:16

(China Daily)

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Hubei provincial authorities have vowed to investigate the government procurement of 3 million dictionaries reported by media to be low quality.

It was the second time in weeks that dictionaries a local government bought for students have had problems.

"We have stopped handing out the dictionaries and will investigate the whole procurement process," the Hubei Department of Education said in a statement on its website on Monday. "Any wrongdoing will be dealt with seriously."

The Xinhua Dictionaries, the most authoritative and influential of Chinese dictionaries, given to rural primary and junior middle school students in the province are of very poor quality and have many mistakes, China Central Television reported on Sunday. The paper in some of the dictionaries is excessively thin, the report said.

The dictionaries are called Students' Xinhua Dictionary, instead of the authentic Xinhua Dictionaries published by the Commercial Press.

Many errors were found in the adapted version, which has an error rate of more than 0.2 percent, CCTV reported.

"For ordinary books, the error rate should be limited to within 0.01 percent. But for dictionaries, the error rate should be much lower, after it has been proofread at least eight times," said Tan Jing-chun, an expert on lexicography of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Tan described the incident as "very irresponsible".

The education department entrusted the Hubei branch of Xinhua Bookstore to handle the procurement, CCTV reported. Chongwen Publishing House, a local publisher, submitted the winning bid.

Neither the bookstore nor publishing house were available for comment on Monday.

Xinhua Bookstore and the Xinhua Dictionaries are not related.

"We are supposed to be providing correct and standardized products to children. However, using such an inferior dictionary, children may grow up with erroneous notions, and it is really harmful in the long term," said Tan, one of Xinhua Dictionaries' compilers and revisers.

Late last month, schools in Tengchong county, Yunnan province, handed out thousands of pirated Xinhua dictionaries to students.

Zhou Lihua in Wuhan contributed to this story.