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Rhetorical Strategies in Chinese and English: A Comparison of L1 Composition Textbooks



Abstract: The present study compared the rhetorical strategies for argumentative writing in Chinese and English composition textbooks. The textbooks were selected based on four criteria. The results of the study revealed that there are similarities and differences in Chinese and English argumentative writing. Both Chinese and English agree upon the function of the argumentative writing, encourage writers to voice their personal opinions, adopt a similar macrostructure for argumentative writing, recommend placing the thesis statement in the introduction, share similar strategies for writing the introduction and the conclusion, and share several strategies to support the argumentation. In addition, they both recommend deductive and inductive reasoning, emphasize emotional appeals, and stress the necessity of addressing the opposing views. However, English textbooks suggest using Toulmin's reasoning system and avoiding logical fallacies, addressing ethos and the needs of different types of audience, and assessing the audience's values, whereas Chinese textbooks highly value appealing to history and moral issues, and using proverbs, set phrases, and analogy. Possible reasons for the similarities and differences in the rhetorical elements are provided. Results provide insights that are of practical use for both the L2 English composition instructor and the Chinese L2 English writer.