Chinese Zodiac Culture and the Rhetorical Construction of A Shu B, C

Jinlin Gao1, Yoon-kyoung Joh2,*
Author Information & Copylight
1Guangxi Normal University
2Mokpo National University
*Corresponding Author : Associate professor, Department of English Language and Literature, Mokpo National University, 1666 Yeongsan-ro, Cheonggye-myeon, Jeollanam-do 58554, Korea, E-mail:

ⓒ Copyright 2019 Language Education Institute, Seoul National University. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Received: Feb 21, 2019 ; Revised: Apr 14, 2019 ; Accepted: Apr 16, 2019

Published Online: Apr 30, 2019


This study, based on the CCL (Center for Chinese Linguistics) corpus, the BCC (Beijing Language and Culture University Corpus Center) corpus, and the dictionaries of Xiehouyu (歇后语) (two-part allegorical sayings), finds that the rhetorical senses of the construction A Shu B, C depends on the categories of A, B, and C. When A is non-human, the statement is rhetorical; when A is human, the categories of B and C will decide its nature. When B is a non-traditional Zodiac sign, the statement is rhetorical, and when B is a traditional Zodiac sign, the categories of A and C will decide its nature. When C is age-related, the statement is traditional, and when C is attribute-related, it is rhetorical. The rhetorical construction carries evaluative connotations in the following distribution: negative: 80.8%; positive: 13.5%; and neutral: 5.7%. The possible motivations for the rhetorical senses are culturally contextualized interactions of metaphor and metonymy as well as homophonic and conceptual associations.

Keywords: zodiac culture; animals; rhetorical construction; shu; metaphor



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