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An Anatomy of Chinese: Rhythm, Metaphor, Politics

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0674066021
ISBN-10: 0674066022
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Editorial Reviews


Perry Link's An Anatomy of Chinese is original, superbly informed by living experience, full of stimulating (and sometimes challenging) insights, nourished by a deep understanding of contemporary Chinese realities. It should become recommended reading for any person who is involved with China―scholars, students, visitors, residents―and, more broadly, for all civilized individuals who feel a need to complete their own humanity by getting better acquainted with the Chinese perspective. (Simon Leys, author of The Hall of Uselessness)

The most significant scholarly work in recent decades that uncovers the repressed nuances and rhythms of the Chinese language. Only Perry Link can give meaning and power so magnificently to Chinese clichés and linguistic routines. High-brow and low-brow Chinese words and syntaxes, the unacquainted speaking patterns and metaphorical structures of the East and West have finally found each other in a brilliant, first-rate comparative analysis by America's preeminent authority on contemporary Chinese language. (Maochun Yu, United States Naval Academy)

Perry Link's book is the first comprehensive study, in either English or Chinese, on language and politics in China. With an incredible ear for subtle twists and turns in verbal expressions, Link examines the impact of rhythm and metaphor on the rhetoric of slogans, enhancing our understanding of linguistic mechanisms that account for the power of slogans in communist politics and illustrating with a wealth of examples the intricate interactions between sound and structure in spoken Chinese. (Pang-Hsin Ting, University of California, Berkeley)

Perry Link's An Anatomy of Chinese is a rich, delightfully refreshing and satisfying look at features of Chinese language rarely probed in standard accounts -- a feast of insights from start to finish. (Chad Hansen, University of Hong Kong)

In An Anatomy of Chinese, Perry Link has made a fascinating discovery that those who are literate in Chinese are subliminally aware of, but which he is the first to make explicit in a lucid and illuminating fashion. Link brings aspects of the Chinese language―innate cadences, prosody―to the surface and analyzes them in such a fashion that we come to understand the structure and genius of Chinese better than ever before. It is a captivating and ingenious tale that the author spins. (Victor Mair, University of Pennsylvania)

Link's fascinating tour de force makes clear the many ways in which the rhythms and metaphors of written and spoken Chinese contribute to Chinese cultural formation, individual character formation and political manipulation. Insisting on using familiar terms in place of jargon, Link makes linguistics accessible and even fun for all of us. (Michael S. Duke, author of The Iron House: A Memoir of the Chinese Democracy Movement and the Tiananmen Massacre)

About the Author

Perry Link is retired from a career teaching at Princeton University and now is Chancellorial Chair for Teaching Across Disciplines at the University of California, Riverside. He publishes on Chinese language, literature, and cultural history, and also writes and speaks on human rights in China.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (February 18, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674066022
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674066021
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #732,485 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By chenji on September 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm a native Chinese speaker, I need to translate documents between Chinese and English in my work from time to time, but I never realized how rhythms, rhymes, and metaphors have played such important roles in Chinese language. I just feel some speech/writing good or not so good unconsciously, taking the Wuyan, Qiyan for granted, now I know why and will be appreciating contents in Chinese with more awareness on rhythms, rhymes, and metaphors, trying to know more of the writer's intention behind. I will also try to use these techniques to improve my writing. In this aspect, this book gives me practical benefit.

From another perspective, I often introspect on the Chinese culture and why I have certain behaviors as a Chinese as opposed to western people that I meet, I read books on psychology, philosophy, etc. This book gives me additional food for thought in putting my introspection into context. Now I have more puzzle pieces at hand, from psychology to language, I have a better feel on what the solved puzzle will look like. Now I come closer to know why am I thinking in a certain way, why other people around me are thinking in a certain way, why I'm expressing myself in a certain way, why other people are speaking in a certain way to me, etc.

I enjoy reading this book, enjoy great examples that are taken right from authentic life of Chinese people, I enjoy this book even more because of its thought provoking quality.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"An Anatomy of Chinese - Rhythm, Metaphor and Politics," is a beautifully structured work with sparkling insights and tingling wit which causes me everlasting regret that I could not have it 40 years ago when I first embarked on the study of the language (. . . or maybe 35 years ago when I would have appreciated it even more than a beginner).

Professor Link's book should be required reading for any student of Chinese beyond the beginner's level and will illuminate China's rich language and literature for any non-native Chinese speaker. It is also essential reading for any analyst of current Chinese politics and/or economics.

And, of course, it is delightful to read. It will be a cherished and much-appreciated gift to that Chinese language student on your holiday gift list.
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