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A Study on Rhetorical Moves of Chinese Public Speeches and Pedagogical Applications
Chinese Public Speech
teaching Chinese public speaking
Public speaking is a kind of communicative event in which a speaker communicates information to a group of listeners in order to achieve specific purposes. Previous researchers investigating English speech have regarded public speaking as a unique genre of spoken discourse and described several distinct features of its rhetorical structure. The results of these previous studies indicate that English speakers organize the structure of information to fulfill their communicative purposes and these and other findings have contributed to the teaching of English public speaking. However, up until this point Chinese public speaking has received little attention by researchers. Thus, the present study, a close inspection of Chinese public speech through move analysis, has aimed to: 1) examine the types of moves used in Chinese impromptu speeches; 2) uncover linguistic realizations of moves and strategies; and 3) generalize their typical structural features. Thirty (30) prize-winning speeches given at the 2011 to 2015 National Language Contest held by the Taiwan Ministry of Education were collected for analysis. The typical structure of Chinese public speeches was uncovered comprising of five obligatory moves including Introduction (Move 1), Body 1 (Move 2), Body 2 (Move 3), Body 3 (Move 4) and Conclusion (Move 5). Although it was revealed that speakers had six strategies at their disposal for both the Introduction and Conclusion, speakers generally only applied two of the six. The most frequently used strategy combination for the Introduction was found to be the telling of stories about famous people prior to forming a connecting link between the preceding and the following discourse. This strategy sequence can function to arouse audience interest and transition to the Body of the speech. In the Conclusion, speakers preferred quoting a well-known saying and then reaffirming the thesis of the speech. This combination of strategies help speakers reinforce their stance and strengthen its influence on the audience. In Body 1 to Body 3, nine strategies were identified of which only three were generally applied. The most frequent combination of strategies used was first the rephrasing of the thesis followed by providing supporting details through the retelling of a well-known story or a personal anecdote and finally stating the conclusion. The above findings suggest that the structural features of Chinese speech are regular and recognizable, which lends credibility to the claim that texts with similar communicative purposes share similarities in terms of their rhetorical characteristics. However, public speaking occurs in real time and at times can result in sequencing of moves allowing for a great amount of flexibility. The present study presents different accounts. This dissertation research results can be applied to the teaching of Chinese public speaking by providing instruction on how to organize a speech according to the conventional rhetorical structure(s) written using commonly occurring sentence patterns. The study hopes to provide insights into the analysis of Chinese public speeches and the teaching of Chinese public speaking.
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