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By Perry Link

During the Cultural Revolution, Mao exhorted the chinese language humans to “smash the 4 olds”: outdated customs, previous tradition, previous behavior, and outdated principles. but while the crimson Guards in Tiananmen sq. chanted “We are looking to see Chairman Mao,” they unknowingly used a classical rhythm that dates again to the Han interval and is the very embodiment of the 4 olds. An Anatomy of Chinese finds how rhythms, conceptual metaphors, and political language exhibit normal meanings of which chinese language audio system themselves will not be consciously acutely aware, and contributes to the continuing debate over even if language shapes notion, or vice versa.

Perry Link’s inquiry into the workings of chinese language finds convergences and divergences with English, so much strikingly within the zone of conceptual metaphor. assorted spatial metaphors for recognition, for example, suggest that English audio system get up whereas audio system of chinese language wake throughout. different underlying metaphors within the languages are comparable, lending aid to theories that find the origins of language within the mind. the excellence among daily-life language and legit language has been strangely major in modern China, and hyperlink explores how usual electorate discover ways to play language video games, artfully wielding officialese to increase their pursuits or shield themselves from others.

Particularly provocative is Link’s attention of the way Indo-European languages, with their choice for summary nouns, generate philosophical puzzles that chinese language, with its choice for verbs, avoids. The mind-body challenge that has plagued Western tradition will be essentially much less tricky for audio system of Chinese.

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Extra info for An Anatomy of Chinese: Rhythm, Metaphor, Politics

Example text

Mao’s formula for miraculous crops] And so on. To test my hypothesis rigorously one would need to count the occurrences of different kinds of rhythms from a variety of randomly selected texts (and where possible, recordings) from different time periods. , those called Suppression of Counterrevolutionaries, The Great Leap Forward, and The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution). In using the People’s Daily as my source I was aware of the bias toward official and political language as opposed to daily-life usage, but still, the easy comparability of three months of the People’s Daily made systematicity possible, so the effort seemed worthwhile.

But the phrase renmin gongshe hao was repeated so often that it not only came to seem natural but also established the pattern A–B–C . . 52 It seems that Mao added a permutation to the pattern with another inadvertent comment in the summer of 1966, when he said that the rebellious spirit of the Red Guards was hao de hen དᕫᕜ ‘really good’. The August 23, 1966, issue of the People’s Daily published a front-page editorial under the headline hao de hen, and in the ensuing days this headline appeared three times: hongweibing de wuchanjieji geming zaofan jingshen hao de hen!

The Prevalence of Rhythmic Patterns in Daily-Life Chinese Rhythms in oratory and literature can be lengthy, complex, and variegated; they can be creative and therefore not at all “standard” in a sense in which one might say they are 80 percent or any other percent representative of anything else. In the next-to-last chapter of Lao She’s novel Camel Xiangzi, for example, an elderly street vendor of fried cakes philosophizes at length, intermittently using creative rhythm that contributes a languid mood as well as a sense of depth to his soliloquy.

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