Principles of Chinese rhetoric: Implications for the teaching of academic writing to Chinese students


Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Many scholars have argued that the transfer of Chinese writing styles and discourse norms influence their writing and they way they arrange argument in English. In this paper I shall describe a selection of Chinese text styles and discourse norms, providing examples from historical and contemporary contexts. In particular, advice from Chen Kui’s, The Rules of Writing, will be presented. The Rules of Writing, published in 1170, is commonly considered to be China’s first systematic account of rhetoric. Here I will focus on three topics discussed by Chen Kui that will be of particular relevance to teachers of academic writing. The first concerns his advice on the sequence of argument when writing discursive texts. The second concerns his advice on the methods and uses of citation and the third on the importance of using ‘contemporary’ language. The transfer (or not) of these rhetorical styles into the English of Chinese speakers will then be considered. In conclusion, I shall discuss the implications of these Chinese rhetorical styles for the teaching of English, in particular academic writing, to Chinese students. It will be argued, in the light of the above discussion, that writing styles are a product of the age in which they develop, and that these styles change significantly over time, no matter in which culture they may be set.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2005


Academic Writing
Chinese Students
Writing Style
Teaching English
Chinese Writing


Kirkpatrick, A. (2005, July). Principles of Chinese rhetoric: Implications for the teaching of academic writing to Chinese students. Paper presented at the 2nd Annual ICIC Conference on Intercultural Rhetoric and Written Discourse Analysis, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, IN.


  • Development of Disciplinary Knowledge (e.g. Sociology, Psychology)