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Free dictionaries found to be pirated


16:16, May 06, 2013

Students receive free dictionaries in Hubei Province on May 6, 2013 (Xinhua Photo)

Free dictionaries handed out to rural students at primary schools and junior middle schools in Central China's Hubei province were found to be pirated, according to a China Central Television report on Sunday.

The Xinhua Dictionary, which is well known as a basic and helpful tool for teenagers to learn Chinese characters in China, used to be difficult to obtain by rural students. Last October, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Education jointly earmarked 1.7 billion yuan ($276 million) for purchasing Xinhua dictionaries for 120 million rural students from Grade One to Grade Nine across the country.

According to the policy, each rural student under compulsory education was due to receive a brand-new Xinhua Dictionary that cost 14 yuan ($2.27) each this January.

However, in Hubei province, the 3.2 million dictionaries handed out were titled Students' Xinhua Dictionary and had no compiler's name on the front cover. They resembled the standardized Xinhua Dictionary in title but the overall error rate was 0.2 percent, 20 times higher than the ordinary level (0.01 percent), according to the report.

Another 600,000 copies of the dictionaries are still being printed and waiting to be handed out to more students, the report said.

"Generally speaking… mistakes are rare. But this dictionary has so many mistakes in it we can tell it is compiled by careless people who know little about dictionaries," Li Mingjian, vice-president of the Lexicographical Society of China, was quoted as saying.

There were also complaints about the poor quality of printing and the paper used compared with the authentic Xinhua Dictionary, which is much better in quality.

What happened in Hubei is not a single case. In late April, schools in Tengchong county and Lincang city in Southwest China's Yunnan province also handed out thousands of pirated Xinhua dictionaries to students, Xinhua News Agency reported.

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