7. 'Memorisation', learning and cultural cognition: The notion of <i>b&#232;i </i>('auditory memorisation') in the written Chinese tradition

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This study examines a cultural practice of ‘remembering’ – <i> bèi </i>(‘auditory memorisation’), which plays a prominent role in the learning experience of Chinese people. It first conducts a detailed semantic analysis of <i> bèi </i>, using natural semantic metalanguage to reveal a culture-internal view of and belief about memory formation and learning, and contrasts it with Chinese <i>jì </i>(‘try to remember/ write down’) and with <i>memorise </i>and <i>learn by heart </i>in English. It then explores linguistic, cognitive and cultural reasons that could explain such a practice. Finally, it addresses the question of why <i> bèi </i>, which exhibits some key features of knowledge transmission in oral cultures, is so prized by the Chinese people, possessors of a long written history.


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