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Books on Chinese Rhetoric and Style


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If such a tradition exists in modern Chinese, does anyone have any recommendations for books on composition? I have many in English, but as I get farther along, I'm starting to discover that there are different rules governing Chinese in how the flow of ideas should be laid out. For example, is there a Chinese equivalent of Strunk and White, the Chicago Manuel of Style, and such?

Please mention both mainland and Taiwanese/Hong Kong books, as there might be a difference.

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The simple answer is just to go to your local Chinese bookstore and find the section that has all the primary and high school students' 作文 books. Read through them and you'll get a good idea about how Chinese compositions are typically written.

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作文範本 are composition sample books. Usually the books have essays on writing by composition teachers about good writing, followed by award-winning student works.

In Taiwan, 國語日報 is known for its composition classes, so if they publish 作文範本, I would suggest them. I took composition classes at 國語日報 as a kid and loved them.

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My reading list for 修辞学:

























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I've bought a number of book on Chinese writing style over the years. See a list below. There is nothing approaching "The Elements of Style", Joseph Williams' "Style", or a number of other books on writing in plain English in their thoroughness, but given the dearth of material in this space, these will have to do. I would guess that you are not looking for Gaokao model essays to emulate.











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These may be of some interest to you:

《中文解毒》 by HK writer 陳雲 (here is a piece of 讀書筆記 on this book)

中文裡一些常見的蹩腳句式》(my own blog post)

PS: You can also view 余光中's 《中文的常態與變態》 and 《從西而不化到西而化之》 by clicking "essay one" and "essay two" in my signature. These two essays are on how to avoid Anglicised Chinese which is widespread in modern-day Chinese.

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Thanks gato.


To me, however, 修辭 seems to be the use of 比喻, 排比, 誇張, 諷刺 and so on while most style guides focuses on how to write plain, concise sentences.


Also, 寫作方法 is probably more about how to approach a composition or a piece of writing.

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'Style guide' has quite a specific meaning: if you are writing for a newspaper, that newspaper will have its own style guide which tells you not just how to avoid common mistakes and express yourself clearly, but also how the newspaper likes things to be written (e.g. do you write USD 50m or $50mm and so on), to enforce consistency on all the pages.


But like I say, a style guide is quite a specific document, it's not interested in big stylistic questions. In a way, the word "style" in "style guide" looks a bit out of place and misleading.


Consider: you are a cook and you start work at a new restaurant: you are told the house style for their burgers (extra pepper, lots of lettuce, say).

But learning the house style is different to learning how to cook.

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It's from a real course I took, that's why posted it. 


Not sure if this is what OP needs, but it's better to study rhetoric than to use all that material on how to write a good essay when you take the gaokao. 


I recommend《汉语修辞学》by 王希杰. The way Chinese people express themselves is different. This book has lot on the way things are being said in Chinese, language and the thinking process, 交际、等等。

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The book mentioned by Angelina. Looks like a great book.



王希杰 (作者)




第一章 修辞活动和修辞学

一 古老而年轻的修辞学

二 “修辞”这个词

三 修辞和修辞学的定义

四 修辞学研究的对象

五 修辞格和修辞方式

六 修辞学的任务、范围和功用

七 修辞学的研究方法

八 汉语修辞学中的古与今

九 怎样学习汉语修辞学

第二章 交际的矛盾和修辞的原则

一 交际的矛盾

二 语言与言语、思维、思想

三 语言世界和物理世界

四 对象

五 自我

六 语境

七 前提

八 视点

九 得体性

第三章 语言变体和同义手段

一 同义手段的多样性

二 语言的同义手段和言语的同义手段

三 修辞活动就是同义手段的选择活动

四 语言变体和同义手段的选择

五 地域变体

六 言文变体

七 社会变体

八 风格变体

九 显性同义手段和潜性同义手段

第四章 意义

一 语言的意义和言语的意义

二 同形异义

三 同义异形

四 社会文化意义

五 个人联想意义

六 语流义和语流义变

七 情景义和情景义变

八 模糊义和模糊话语

九 表达意义和接受意义

第五章 声音

一 声音和表达效果

二 摹声和联绵

三 音节

四 节拍

五 衬词和重叠

六 韵脚

七 平仄

八 谐音

九 语音和歧义

第六章 结构

一 句际关系和结构模式

二 纵横

三 整散

四 长短

五 词序

六 语序

七 话语衔接

八 辞格和衔接

九 插入语和反衔接

第七章 均衡

一 语言的均衡美

二 对偶

三 对照

四 排比

五 顶针

六 回环

七 互文

八 列举分承

九 均衡的局限和超越

第八章 变化

一 语言的变化美

二 双关

三 反语和夸张

四 婉曲

五 相反相成和顾名思义

六 拆字和拆词与释词和析词

七 顿跌和曲说与拟误和存误

八 转类和返源与藏词和歇后

九 镶嵌和偏取

第九章 侧重

一 语言的侧重美

二 反复

三 递进

四 映衬

五 设问

六 反问

七 类聚

八 同语

九 撇除

第十章 联系

一 语言的联系美

二 比喻

三 比拟

四 借代及图示

五 象征和暗示

六 拈连

七 移就

八 仿拟

九 引用

第十一章 语体风格

一 风格和风格学与修辞学

二 语言风格的特征

三 语言风格的形成

四 语体风格和修辞

五 公文语体

六 科技语体

七 政论语体

八 文艺语体的特征

九 文艺语体的分类

第十二章 表现风格

一 表现风格和修辞学

二 藻丽

三 平实

四 明快

五 含蓄

六 繁丰

七 简洁

八 典雅和通俗

九 风格的鉴赏和培养

结语 修辞学和辩证法


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Not sure if this is what the OP is looking for

It is exactly what I'm looking for as I'm not interested in writing a gaokao essay (nor a eight-legged essay too). I'm just traveling around Taiwan at the moment, and haven't made the time to reply until now. I'm especially interested in the differences in how logic is expressed, while retaining the same meaning as how I would say in English.
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  • 1 month later...

The best place to find these books is under the language section in books in Hong Kong and Taiwan, with the university bookstores having the best selection (with the exception of the University of Hong Kong, which mainly has English books); mainland bookstores on the other hand just have books on how to pass tests, even the university bookstores.

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