Volume 23, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1566-5852
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9854
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



This paper deals with rhetorically intended questions in the , a foundational text of Daoism (fourth century ). Such questions are generally meant to evoke silent answers in the addressee’s mind, thereby involving a fictive type of interaction (Pascual 20062014). We analyse rhetorical questions as constructions of intersubjectivity (see Verhagen 20052008), involving not just a conceptual integration of question and assertion but also a viewpoint blend (Dancygier and Sweetser [eds] 2012). They involve fusing the perspectives of the writer, the assumed prospective readers, and possibly also that of the discourse characters (in the case of rhetorical questions ascribed to a discourse character but meant to represent the writer’s voice). In this highly influential text with abundant mixed viewpoint scenarios, the interpretation of rhetorical questions involves the resolution of different viewpoints, which are set up and shifted in a multi-layered manner for particular argumentative purposes.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Adams, Jim W.
    2006The Performative Nature and Function of Isaiah 40–55. New York: T & T Clark International.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Badarneh, Muhammad A.
    2003The Rhetorical Question as a Discursive and Stylistic Device in the Quran. (Unpublished PhD thesis.) Arizona State University.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Bisang, Walter
    2008 “Underspecification and the Noun/Verb Distinction: Late Archaic Chinese and Khmer”. InAnita Steube (ed.), The Discourse Potential of Underspecified Structures, 55–81. Berlin: De Gruyter.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. 2013 “Word-Class Systems Between Flexibility and Rigidity: An Integrative Approach”. InJan Rijkhoff and Eva van Lier (eds), Flexible Word Classes: Typological Studies of Underspecified Parts of Speech, 275–302. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199668441.003.0010
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199668441.003.0010 [Google Scholar]
  5. Bowery, Anne-Marie
    2007 “Know Thyself: Socrates as Storyteller”. InGary Alan Scott (ed.), Philosophy in Dialogue: Plato’s Many Devices, 82–110. Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press. 10.2307/j.ctv47wcmn.8
    https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctv47wcmn.8 [Google Scholar]
  6. Chen, Puqing
    1983Zhongguo Gudai Yuyanshi [‘A History of Fables in Ancient China’]. Changsha: Hunan Education Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Chen, Xiaohe, Feng Minxuan, Xu Runhua,
    2013Xianqin Wenxian Xinxi Chuli [‘Information Processing of Pre-Qin Texts’]. Beijing: World Books Publishing Company.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Chou, Fa-kao
    1961Zhongguo Gudai Yufa Zaoju Bian Shang [‘A Historical Grammar of Ancient Chinese Part 1: Syntax’]. Taipei: Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Claridge, C.
    2005 “Questions in Early Modern English Pamphlets”. Journal of Historical Pragmatics6 (1): 133–168. 10.1075/jhp.6.1.07cla
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jhp.6.1.07cla [Google Scholar]
  10. Classe, Olive
    2000Encyclopedia of Literary Translation into English: A-L. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. 10.4324/9780203825501
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203825501 [Google Scholar]
  11. Conrad, Rudi
    1982 “Rhetorische Fragen” [‘Rhetorical Questions’]. Zeitschrift für Slawistik27 (3): 420–428. 10.1524/slaw.1982.27.16.420
    https://doi.org/10.1524/slaw.1982.27.16.420 [Google Scholar]
  12. Cooren, François
    2010Action and Agency in Dialogue: Passion, Incarnation and Ventriloquism. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/ds.6
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ds.6 [Google Scholar]
  13. 2012 “Communication Theory at the Center: Ventriloquism and the Communicative Constitution of Reality”. Journal of Communication62 (1): 1–20. 10.1111/j.1460‑2466.2011.01622.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2011.01622.x [Google Scholar]
  14. Coulson, Seana
    2005 “Sarcasm and the Space Structuring Model”. InSeana Coulson and Barbara Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk (eds), The Literal and Nonliteral in Language and Thought, 129–144. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Coutinho, Steve
    2016Zhuangzi and Early Chinese Philosophy: Vagueness, Transformation and Paradox. New York: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Creel, Herrlee Glessner
    1970What is Taoism? and Other Studies in Chinese Cultural History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Dancygier, Barbara
    2008 “Personal Pronouns, Blending, and Narrative Viewpoint”. InAndrea Tyler, Yiyoung Kim and Mari Takada (eds), Language in the Context of Use: Discourse and Cognitive Approaches to Language, 167–183. Berlin: De Gruyter.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Dancygier, Barbara and Eve Sweetser
    (eds) 2012Viewpoint in Language: A Multimodal Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9781139084727
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139084727 [Google Scholar]
  19. Dancygier, Barbara, Wei-lun Lu and Arie Verhagen
    (eds) 2016Viewpoint and the Fabric of Meaning. Form and Use of Viewpoint Tools across Languages and Modalities. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. 10.1515/9783110365467
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110365467 [Google Scholar]
  20. Estes, Douglas
    2013The Questions of Jesus in John: Logic, Rhetoric and Persuasive Discourse. Leiden: Brill. 10.1163/9789004240292
    https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004240292 [Google Scholar]
  21. 2017Questions and Rhetoric in the Greek New Testament: An Essential Reference Resource for Exegesis. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Fairclough, Norman
    1994 “Conversationalization of Public Discourse and the Authority of the Consumer”. InNicholas Abercrombie, Russell Keat and Nigel Whiteley (eds), The Authority of the Consumer, 253–268. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Fauconnier, Gilles and Mark Turner
    1996 “Blending as a Central Process of Grammar”. InAdele Goldberg (ed.), Conceptual Structure, Discourse, and Language, 113–129. Stanford: CSLI.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. 2002The Way We Think: Conceptual Blending and the Mind’s Hidden Complexities. New York: Basic Books.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Frank, Jane
    1990 “You Call That a Rhetorical Question? Forms and Functions of Rhetorical Questions in Conversation”. Journal of Pragmatics14 (5): 723–738. 10.1016/0378‑2166(90)90003‑V
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(90)90003-V [Google Scholar]
  26. Fraser, Bruce
    1998 “Contrastive Discourse Markers in English”. InAndreas H. Jucker and Yael Ziv (eds), Discourse Markers: Descriptions and Theory, 301–326. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/pbns.57.15fra
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.57.15fra [Google Scholar]
  27. Fung, Yu-lan
    1997 (1948)A Short History of Chinese Philosophy. (Edited byDavid Bodde.) New York: The Free Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. 1983A History of Chinese Philosophy. (Volume 1: The Period of the Philosophers (from the Beginnings to circa 100 B.C.) (Translated byDavid Bodde.) Princeton: Princeton University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Galambos, Imre
    2014 “Punctuation Marks in Medieval Chinese Manuscripts”. InJörg Quenzer, Dmitry Bondarev and Jan-Ulrich Sobisch (eds), Manuscript Cultures: Mapping the Field, 341–357. Berlin: De Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110225631.341
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110225631.341 [Google Scholar]
  30. Grèssillon, Almuth
    1980 “Zum Linguistischen Status Rhetorischer Fragen” [‘On the Linguistic Status of Rhetorical Questions’]. Zeitschrift für Germanistische Linguistik8 (3): 273–289. 10.1515/zfgl.1980.8.3.273
    https://doi.org/10.1515/zfgl.1980.8.3.273 [Google Scholar]
  31. Guo, Qingfan
    2013 (1894)Zhuangzi Jishi [‘Collected Interpretations of the Zhuangzi’]. Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Günther, Franziska
    2016Constructions in Cognitive Contexts: Why Individuals Matter in Linguistic Relativity Research. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. 10.1515/9783110461343
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110461343 [Google Scholar]
  33. Han, Chung-hye
    2002 “Interpreting Interrogatives as Rhetorical Questions”. Lingua112 (3): 201–229. 10.1016/S0024‑3841(01)00044‑4
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0024-3841(01)00044-4 [Google Scholar]
  34. Harvard-Yenching Institute
    Harvard-Yenching Institute 1956Zhuangzi Yinde [‘A Concordance to Zhuangzi’]. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. Herman, Vimala
    1999 “Deictic Projection and Conceptual Blending in Epistolarity”. Poetics Today20 (3): 523–541.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. Hogan, Patrick C.
    2013How Authors’ Minds Make Stories. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9781139540629
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139540629 [Google Scholar]
  37. Huang, Jian
    2013Sixiang Men: Xianqin Zhuzi Jiedu Zendingben [‘The Gate of Ideas: Interpreting Pre-Qin Philosophers’]. (Updated edition.) Shanghai: Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. Huddleston, Rodney and Geoffrey. K. Pullum
    2002The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/9781316423530
    https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316423530 [Google Scholar]
  39. Ilie, Cornelia
    1994What Else Can I Tell You? A Pragmatic Study of English Rhetorical Questions as Discursive and Argumentative Acts. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. 1999 “Question-Response Argumentation in Talk Shows”. Journal of Pragmatics31 (8): 975–999. 10.1016/S0378‑2166(99)00056‑9
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0378-2166(99)00056-9 [Google Scholar]
  41. 2010 “Rhetorical Questions”. InLouise Cummings (ed.), The Routledge Pragmatics Encyclopedia, 405–408. London and New York: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  42. Jaffee, Martin S.
    2001Torah in the Mouth: Writing and Oral Tradition in Palestinian Judaism 200 BCE-400 CE. New York: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/0195140672.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/0195140672.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  43. Kiefer, Ferenc
    1980 “Yes-no Questions as Wh-questions”. InJohn Searle, Ferenc Kiefer and Manfred Bierwisch (eds), Speech Act Theory and Pragmatics, 97–119. Dordrecht: D. Reidel Publishing Company. 10.1007/978‑94‑009‑8964‑1_5
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-009-8964-1_5 [Google Scholar]
  44. Koshik, Irene
    2005Beyond Rhetorical Questions: Assertive Questions in Everyday Interaction. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/sidag.16
    https://doi.org/10.1075/sidag.16 [Google Scholar]
  45. van Krieken, Kobie and José Sanders
    2019 “Smoothly Moving through Mental Spaces: Linguistic Patterns of Viewpoint Transfer in News Narratives”. Cognitive Linguistics30 (3): 499–529. 10.1515/cog‑2018‑0063
    https://doi.org/10.1515/cog-2018-0063 [Google Scholar]
  46. Langacker, Ronald W.
    1999 “Virtual Reality”. Studies in Linguistic Sciences29 (2): 77–103.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. 2001 “Discourse in Cognitive Grammar”. Cognitive Linguistics12 (2): 143–188. 10.1515/cogl.12.2.143
    https://doi.org/10.1515/cogl.12.2.143 [Google Scholar]
  48. 2008Cognitive Grammar: A Basic Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195331967.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195331967.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  49. 2013 “Interactive Cognition: Toward a Unified Account of Structure, Processing, and Discourse”. International Journal of Cognitive Linguistics3 (2): 95–125.
    [Google Scholar]
  50. Legge, James
    (trans) 1891aThe Texts of Taoism, Part 1: The Tāo Teh King; The Writings of Kwang-dze (Books I–XVII). Oxford: The Clarendon Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  51. (trans) 1891bThe Texts of Taoism, Part 2: Writings of Kwang-dze (Books XVIII–XXXIII); The Thâi-Shang Tractate of Actions and Their Retributions. Oxford: The Clarendon Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  52. Liu, Xiaogan
    (ed) 2015Dao Companion to Daoist Philosophy. Dordrecht: Springer. 10.1007/978‑90‑481‑2927‑0
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-2927-0 [Google Scholar]
  53. Lin, Xuda
    1981 “Shanggu Hanyu de Yudiao Wenti” [‘Tones in Archaic Chinese’]. Journal of Southwest University (Social Sciences Edition) (2): 107–113.
    [Google Scholar]
  54. Mair, Victor
    2000 “The Zhuangzi and its Impact”. InLivia Kohn (ed.), Daoism Handbook, 30–52. Leiden: Brill.
    [Google Scholar]
  55. Major, John S.
    2014 “Tool Metaphors in the Huainanzi and Other Early Texts”. InSarah A. Queen and Michael Puett (eds), The Huainanzi and Textual Production in Early China, 151–198. Leiden: Brill.
    [Google Scholar]
  56. Meibauer, Jörg
    1986Rhetorische Fragen [‘Rhetorical Questions’]. Berlin: De Gruyter. 10.1515/9783111352572
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783111352572 [Google Scholar]
  57. Nienhauser, William H.
    1986The Indiana Companion to Traditional Chinese Literature. (Volume11.) Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  58. Oakley, Todd and Seana Coulson
    2008 “Connecting the Dots: Mental Spaces and Metaphoric Language in Discourse”. InTodd Oakley and Anders Hougaard (eds), Mental Spaces in Discourse and Interaction, 27–50. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/pbns.170.02cou
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.170.02cou [Google Scholar]
  59. Oakley, Todd and Vera Tobin
    2014 “The Whole is Sometimes Less Than the Sum of its Parts: Toward a Theory of Document Acts”. Language and Cognition6 (1): 79–110. 10.1017/langcog.2013.6
    https://doi.org/10.1017/langcog.2013.6 [Google Scholar]
  60. Pascual, Esther
    2006 “Questions in Legal Monologues: Fictive Interaction as Argumentative Strategy in a Murder Trial”. Text & Talk26 (3): 383–402. 10.1515/TEXT.2006.014a
    https://doi.org/10.1515/TEXT.2006.014a [Google Scholar]
  61. 2008 “Text for Context, Trial for Trialogue: An Enthnographic Study of a Fictive Interaction Blend”. Annual Review of Cognitive Linguistics6 (1): 50–82. 10.1075/arcl.6.04pas
    https://doi.org/10.1075/arcl.6.04pas [Google Scholar]
  62. 2014Fictive Interaction: The Conversation Frame in Thought, Language and Discourse. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/hcp.47
    https://doi.org/10.1075/hcp.47 [Google Scholar]
  63. Pascual, Esther and Sergeiy Sandler
    (eds) 2016The Conversation Frame: Forms and Functions of Fictive Interaction. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/hcp.55
    https://doi.org/10.1075/hcp.55 [Google Scholar]
  64. Pulleyblank, Edwin G.
    1995Outline of Classical Chinese Grammar. Vancouver: UBC Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  65. Quirk, Randolph, Sydney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech and Jan Svartvik
    1985A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language. London: Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  66. Rosch, Eleanor H.
    1973 “Natural Categories”. Cognitive Psychology4 (3): 328–350. 10.1016/0010‑0285(73)90017‑0
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0010-0285(73)90017-0 [Google Scholar]
  67. Roth, Harold
    2008 “Zhuangzi”. InEdward N. Zalta (ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Available online at: plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2008/entries/zhuangzi/
    [Google Scholar]
  68. Sadock, Jerrold M.
    1974Towards a Linguistic Theory of Speech Acts. New York: Academic Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  69. Schmidt-Radefeldt, Jürgen
    1977 “On So-Called ‘Rhetorical’ Questions”. Journal of Pragmatics1 (4): 375–392. 10.1016/0378‑2166(77)90029‑7
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(77)90029-7 [Google Scholar]
  70. Searle, John R.
    1975 “Indirect Speech Acts”. InPeter Cole and Jerry L. Morgan (eds), Syntax and Semantics, 59–82. (Volume 3: Speech Acts.) New York: Academic Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  71. Streeck, Jürgen
    2002 “Grammars, Words, and Embodied Meanings: On the Uses and Evolution of So and Like”. Journal of Communication52 (3): 581–596. 10.1111/j.1460‑2466.2002.tb02563.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2002.tb02563.x [Google Scholar]
  72. Verhagen, Arie
    2005Construction of Intersubjectivity: Discourse, Syntax, and Cognition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  73. 2008 “Intersubjectivity and the Architecture of the Language System”. InJordan Zlatev, Timothy P. Racine, Chris Sinha and Esa Itkonen (eds), The Shared Mind: Perspectives on Intersubjectivity, 307–331. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/celcr.12.17ver
    https://doi.org/10.1075/celcr.12.17ver [Google Scholar]
  74. Vis, Kirsten, José Sanders and Wilbert Spooren
    2012 “Diachronic Changes in Subjectivity and Stance: A Corpus Linguistic Study of Dutch News Texts”. Discourse, Context and Media1 (2–3): 95–102. 10.1016/j.dcm.2012.09.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dcm.2012.09.003 [Google Scholar]
  75. Von der Gabelentz, Georg
    1881Chinesische Grammatik, Mit Ausschluss des Niederen Stiles und der Heutigen Umgangssprache [‘Chinese Grammar, Exclusive of Lower Style and Contemporary Colloquial’]. Leipzig: T.O. WEIGEL.
    [Google Scholar]
  76. Wang, Bo
    2013Zhuangzi Zhexue Di’erban [‘The Philosophy of Chuang Tzu’]. (Second edition.) Beijing: Peking University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  77. Wang, Haifen
    2015Guhanyu Fanchou Cidian: Yiwen Juan [‘Dictionary of Classical Chinese Categories: Interrogatives’]. Beijing: Social Sciences Academic Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  78. Wang, Rongpei
    (trans.) 1999Zhuangzi. Changsha: Hunan People’s Publishing House & Beijing: Foreign Language Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  79. Wang, Shishun and Mujun Han
    1993Laozhuang Cidian [‘Dictionary of Laozi and Zhuangzi’]. Jinan: Shandong Education Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  80. Watson, Burton
    (trans.) 2013 [1968]The Complete Works of Zhuangzi. New York: Columbia University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  81. Xiang, Mingjian
    2016 “Real, Imaginary, or Fictive? Philosophical Dialogues in an Early Daoist Text and its Pictorial Version”. InEsther Pascual and Sergeiy Sandler (eds), The Conversation Frame: Forms and Functions of Fictive Interaction, 63–86. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/hcp.55.04xia
    https://doi.org/10.1075/hcp.55.04xia [Google Scholar]
  82. Xiang, Mingjian and Esther Pascual
    2016 “Debate with Zhuangzi: Expository Questions as Fictive Interaction Blends in an Old Chinese Text”. Pragmatics26 (1): 137–162.
    [Google Scholar]
  83. Yang, Guorong
    2017Zhuangzi de Sixiang Shijie Xiudingban [‘Zhuangzi’s World of Thought’] (Revised edition.) Beijing: Sanlian Book Store.
    [Google Scholar]
  84. Yang, Bojun and He Leshi
    2001Guhanyu Yufa Jiqi Fazhan Xiudingban [‘A Grammar of Ancient Chinese and its Development’] (Revised edition.) Beijing: YUWEN Publishing House.
    [Google Scholar]
  85. Ye, Chengyi
    2004 [1979]Zhuangzi Yuyan Yanjiu [‘A Study on Fables in the Zhuangzi’]. Taipei: Wenshizhe Publishing House.
    [Google Scholar]
  86. Zhang, Mosheng
    2007 [1948]Zhuangzi Xinshi [‘A New Interpretation of the Zhuangzi’]. Beijing: New World Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  87. Zlatev, Jordan, Timothy P. Racine, Chris Sinha and Esa Itkonen
    (eds) 2008The Shared Mind: Perspectives on Intersubjectivity. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/celcr.12
    https://doi.org/10.1075/celcr.12 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error