Projects of the CSTCC

TLS (Thesaurus Linguae Sericae)

The Thesaurus Linguae Sericae: An Historical and Comparative Encyclopaedia of Chinese Conceptual Schemes, TLS for short, is currently being managed and maintained by Princeton University in cooperation with the CSTCC. This database incorporates the results of the Center's current research projects. The digital platform allows for the timely consideration of new research results even before they are published in print media.

A comprehensive corpus of classical Chinese full texts is made digitally available in the TLS and immediately accessible for research. The texts are not only provided with an interlinear translation by an international team of renowned scientists, but are also directly linked to an integrated analytical dictionary of the Chinese written language. By simply highlighting a character, the user is thus provided with an overview of its entire spectrum of meanings as well as its concrete use in the currently selected text passage itself. The TLS thus not only makes the text accessible in its traditional version and translation, but also offers a direct insight into its syntactic structure. It is important to note that Classical Chinese texts are often highly ambiguous. The aim of the TLS is not to develop a prescriptive interpretation and translation. Rather, it is to show the multitude of possible interpretations. Alternative readings are identified and presented to the user.

The dictionary on which the TLS is based and which is linked to the full-text database is a central component of the constantly growing number of digital resources. The processing of classical Chinese texts results directly in an expansion and specification of this dictionary: previously unrecognized uses or connotations of a term can be incorporated into the dictionary by the user. Simultaneously with the indexing of the text corpus and its vocabulary, the TLS develops its own system of syntactic categories and rhetorical means of the Chinese language. By assigning Chinese words to a taxonomic hierarchy of synonym groups, a synonym dictionary of Classical Chinese is also being compiled. The TLS pays special attention to historical keywords and central pre-modern concepts.

The full-text database, the dictionary of synonyms and the directory of pre-modern Chinese concepts are all interconnected. This means that more than a one-way access from the database to the dictionary is possible. The dictionary also lists all instances of any word in each respective use within the text database. In the same way, the concept database is linked to the dictionary and the text database. Thus, all parts of the TLS are dynamically connected and integrated into each other.

The full potential of the TLS only unfolds when it is seen not only in its individual components but in its overall conception: It is a constantly growing database that can be edited online at any time worldwide. It thus offers not only a collaborative forum for the discussion of Classical Chinese texts, but also a platform for intercultural research into pre-modern Chinese conceptual history. Scholars of various disciplines and fields can actively engage in a direct exchange. Chinese concepts that were adopted in other cultural areas and evolved there in isolation can thus be directly explored and documented in their transcultural development. For this purpose, relevant japanological and Korean text corpora will increasingly be added to the sinological text corpus via the medium of Classical Chinese. This serves to create a transdisciplinary research debate of East Asian studies on a common methodological basis, opening completely new possibilities for philologists, historians, and philosophers.

The history of the TLS began in Heidelberg where it was founded and directed by Christoph Harbsmeier. Since 2019, Prof. Dr. Christian Schwermann has been co-editing and developing the TLS through the CSTCC together with Prof. Dr. Christian Wittern (University Kyōtō). The technical infrastructure is provided by Kyōtō university, the hosting by the University of Princeton.

The TLS can be reached at: (the old version at: