Research on the Investigation of Word Origins and Modern Keywords

So called “keywords” are important terms that have secured a fixed position within a system of knowledge. Those that are closely related to the modern characteristics of Chinese society may be referred to as “modern keywords.” This article asserts that as members of a system of vocabulary, keywords encapsulate such problems as the coining, dissemination and stabilization of new and translated words in research on the history of modern lexicon. As a vehicle for modern concepts, keywords reflect the process of East Asia’s reception of Western civilization and are the object of research in modern conceptual history. As a result, research on modern keywords must incorporate both textual research on the origin of words and a close treatment of conceptual history. Such research is a multidisciplinary endeavor in which lexicon research converges with research from other fields in the humanities. This article discusses the boundaries between different research fields focusing, in particular, on the role that linguistic research plays in research on conceptual history, while also attempting, from the perspective of its compilation, to investigate the principles and stylistic format behind the writing of the “Dictionary of Conceptual History.”

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