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