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Rhetoric in East Asia: China and Japan

Rudong Chen

Subject Linguistics
Communication Studies » Rhetorical Studies

Place Eastern Asia » China, Japan

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


Chinese rhetorical thought can be traced back to the Spring and Autumn period (770–476 bce ). The word for “rhetoric” in Chinese came from Confucius’ (551–479 bce ) speech in The book of changes : “The gentleman advances in virtue, and cultivates all the spheres of his duty. His honesty and good faith are the way in which he advances in virtue. His sincere rhetoric (Xīu Cí) is the way in which he fulfills his spheres of duty.” In ancient Chinese, “rhetoric” means to decorate oral and written words, to use language appropriately and effectively. In ancient China, people summed up the functions of rhetoric in four aspects: moral cultivation, life pursuit, interpersonal coordination, and social management. Rhetoric or speech was regarded as one of the abilities and qualities of participating in social management as well as one's pursuit of life, as expressed in Shusun Bao's speech in Xianggong's year 24 of The Tso Chuen : “The highest meaning of ‘not decaying’ is when there is established virtue; the second, when there is established merit; and the third, when there is established speech. They are not forgotten with length of time: this is called three ways of ‘not decaying’.” Rhetoric was also regarded as one important means of social management. The book of songs said, “If the wording of your decrees is gentle and kind, the people will be of one heart and support you; if the ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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