Ernst Johann Eitel

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Ernst Johann Eitel or alternatively Ernest John Eitel (13 February 1838 – 1908) was a German Protestant missionary to China born in Württemberg, Germany.

Missionary career[edit]

He served in Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Württemberg as pastor. Adopting a Chinese name (Chinese: 歐德理; pinyin: Ōudélǐ), he later came to Lilang, Xin'an district in Canton, China under the Basel Mission. In April 1865 he transferred to the London Missionary Society at Guangzhou to take in charge of the Boluo Mission and the Hakka villages outside Guangzhou. In January 1870 he moved to Hong Kong while still having charge of the Boluo Mission. In 1875 he became Director of Chinese Studies. In April 1879 he resigned from the London Missionary Society.

He then became Inspector of Schools in Hong Kong and later Chinese Secretary to Sir John Pope Hennessy. In 1866 he married Mary Anne Winifred Eaton of the Female Education Society. He died in Adelaide, Australia, in 1908.

A Cantonese Dictionary[edit]

Eitel published his Cantonese dictionary, Chinese Dictionary in the Cantonese Dialect in 1877, based on a Cantonese glossary dictionary Tonic Dictionary of the Chinese Language in the Canton Dialect written in 1856 by Samuel Wells Williams. This expanded the work of James Legge on the Kangxi Dictionary. His publication was intended to standardize the pronunciation of Cantonese.

His work was criticised by Wong Shik Ling in the book A Chinese Syllabary Pronounced according to the Dialect of Canton on the basis that it inherited inaccuracies from former works.


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