Multilingual Data & Knowledge

The 25th Anniversary of ASIALEX:
Past, Present, Future

Hai Xu

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Association for Asian Lexicography (ASIALEX). Over the past two-and-a-half decades, ASIALEX has grown and exerted a profound impact on the lexicography community in Asia and beyond. In the following, I give a brief overview of the formation, development, and prospects of our association.

1. Birth
ASIALEX was established in 1997 in Hong Kong, at the conference Dictionaries in Asia: Research and Pedagogical Implications, which was held at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology on March 27-29. The founders included Gregory James, R.R.K. Hartmann, Tom McArthur, and Amy Chi. Jianhua Huang, from Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, was elected as the first president of the association.


The aim of ASIALEX is “to foster scholarly and professional activities in the field of lexicography by facilitating the exchange of information and ideas through meetings, publications and other means” (cf. Before its foundation, four sister lexicography associations were established, namely the Dictionary Society of North America (DSNA, 1975), the European Association for Lexicography (EURALEX, 1983), the Australasian Association for Lexicography (AUSTRALEX, 1990), and the African Association for Lexicography (AFRILEX, 1995). Compared with the diversity of languages and prosperity of dictionary-making in this region, metalexicographic studies in Asia were relatively moderate. An association was therefore called for. Asia boasts a diversity of languages: of the world’s 7,151 known living languages, 2,314 can be found in Asia (cf. There is also a time-honoured tradition of lexicography in Asia. The first wordlists in China were compiled around 2,500 years ago, and Sanskrit lexicography can be dated back to c. 1,500 BC (Considine 2019).


2. Development
ASIALEX held its international conferences biennially until 2015. Since 2016, the conferences have been held annually. Over the past 25 years ASIALEX conferences were hosted in 9 countries: China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Turkey, ranging from Eastern Asia and Southern Asia to Western Asia. Focusing on various themes, these conferences highlighted lexicography of Asian indigenous languages, bilingual lexicography, pedagogical lexicography, corpus lexicography, digital lexicography, dictionary use and education, language documentation, etc. In addition to participants from Asia, we are delighted to meet in each conference delegates from all over the world.


Besides international conferences and pre-conference workshops, ASIALEX has organized other events. Most recently, in December 2021, the First International Symposium on Cross-Cultural Lexicography was successfully held online by Sichuan International Studies University.


In 2014 another important event occurred: the inauguration of  Lexicography. Journal of ASIALEX, the first academic journal devoted to lexicography in Asia. The journal was first published by Springer, and since 2021 it is published by Equinox. “Given this diversified yet also unique nature of Asian languages, it is extremely urgent and important to conduct more research to keep a record of and to preserve languages in this part of the world. Promoting the collection of words through fieldwork, the compilation of dictionaries or even small glossaries for indigenous languages, among other things, would be much needed to achieve this goal.” (Tono 2014: 2) Together with International Journal of Lexicography, Lexikos, Dictionaries. Journal the Dictionary Society of North America, and Lexicographica, our journal promotes research all over the world through publishing the latest lexicographic studies, sharing experience in dictionary making, and disseminating state-of-the-art knowledge of lexicography. In April 2020, the journal reached a milestone by being indexed in Scopus, and was ranked Class A (the top rank) by the Italian Ministry for Education and Scientific Research (ANVUR).


3. 25 years ahead 
In the coming years it is expected that ASIALEX will hold conferences in a wider range of venues, attract more participants, and upgrade its journal. Currently, the venues of ASIALEX international conferences are mainly confined to Eastern Asian countries, which may partly be due to the prosperity of lexicography in this region. It is good to see that in recent years there has been a growing interest in lexicography in more countries, like Malaysia and Vietnam. In the post-pandemic days when the economy is gradually revitalizing, we believe that more Asian countries will bid to host of an ASIALEX international conference.


We are also trying our best to attract more participants, particularly the younger generation of lexicographers and researchers. In the digital era, there is more room for fascinating research in lexicography, such as the building and application of digital lexicographic databases, semi-automatic dictionary making, and digital literacy in lexicography. Through conferences, workshops, symposiums, etc., we will encourage more young people to pursue this line of research.


Last but not least, we hope that Lexicography. Journal of ASIALEX will be indexed in SSCI and A&HCI in the near future. Instead of being many, there are very few journals devoted to lexicography. One more SSCI/A&HCI journal will certainly extend the influence of lexicography in academia.



Dictionaries: Journal of the Dictionary Society of North America.
International Journal of Lexicography.
Lexicography. Journal of ASIALEX.



Considine, J. (ed.). 2019The Cambridge World History of Lexicography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

EthnologueLanguages of the World. Accessed on August 9, 2022. 

Tono, Y. 2014. Lexicography in Asia: Its future and challenges. Lexicography. Journal of ASIALEX 1.1, 1- 5.  

Hai Xu is a Professor of Applied Linguistics in the Centre for Linguistics and Applied Linguistics at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. His research interests include lexicography, vocabulary acquisition, and corpus linguistics. He is currently President of the Asian Association for Lexicography (2021-2023), Co-Editor-in-Chief of  Lexicography. Journal of ASIALEX, and on the editorial board of International Journal of Lexicography.

ASIALEX international conferences

1997 Hong Kong
Dictionaries in Asia: Research and Pedagogical Implications


ASIALEX 1999 Guangzhou, China
National Experience in Lexicography or Dictionary Compilation and lilingual Lexicography


ASIALEX 2001 Seoul, Korea
Asian Bilingualism and the Dictionary


ASIALEX 2003 Tokyo, Japan
Dictionaries and Language Learning: How can Dictionaries Help Human and Machine Learning?


ASIALEX 2005 Singapore
Words in Asian Cultural Context

ASIALEX 2007 Chennai, India
Asian Lexicography: Retrospect and Prospect

ASIALEX 2009 Bangkok, Thailand
Dictionary in Education


ASIALEX 2011 Kyoto, Japan
Lexicography: Theoretical and Practical Perspectives

ASIALEX 2013 Bali, Indonesia
Lexicography and Dictionaries in the Information Age

ASIALEX 2015 Hong Kong, China
Words, Corpora and Dictionaries: Innovations in  Reference Science

ASIALEX 2016 Manila, the Philippines
Advancing Language Teaching with Lexicography and Corpus-Building

ASIALEX 2017 Guangzhou, China
Lexicography in Asia: Challenges, Innovations, and Prospects

ASIALEX 2018 Krabi, Thailand
Lexicography in the Digital World

ASIALEX 2019 Istanbul, Turkey
Lexicography: Past, Present and Future

ASIALEX 2021 Online (host: Badanbahasa, Indonesia)
Lexicography and Language Documentation

ASIALEX 2022 Online (host: Guangxi Minzu University, China)
Asian Lexicography in the Digital Age: Challenges and Solutions

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