I recently read a good introduction to rhetoric, and decided to write a summary, so I won’t forget it straight away.

The author starts by pointing out how people tend to think of rhetoric only as how we say things, when it is really about both the form and content of what we say – it concerns both lexis (how) and logos (what).

To convince our audience, we have to appeal to  something in them. That can be:

  • logos reason
  • pathos emotion
  • ethos character/values

And then there is circumstance:

  • kairos the occasion
  • audience
  • decorum appropriate wording

We are also told of five canons of rhetoric:

  • invention
  • arrangement
  • style
  • memory how information is recalled
  • delivery


Now, the useful part. I didn’t read that text just for fun. I wanted tools for writing, and here they are. My goal is to go through this list often, and try out all the concepts in my texts.

expletives extra words, for emphasis
similies, analogies, metaphors, metonymy, personification
hyperbole exaggeration
litotes understatement + denial of opposite
asyndetons and polysyndetons creative use of and
parallelism and chiasmus describe two things as equal, or different
apophasis pretending to not talk about something
enthymeme informal syllogism
metanoia correcting oneself
aporia expressing uncertainty
hyperbatons creative word ordering

So, whenever you want to sound convincing, just choose an item from this list, maybe find some examples in the original article, and put it into your own text.

Oh, and remember to let me know if it worked 😉

The article described: Paul Newall, 2005, Rhetoric, The Galilean (link)


Home again. Got no chance to write during the last days.

Before I left Taipei I met up with a friend from last summer. He’s been there all along, studying Mandarin. I’m more than a little jealous. But it was good see a familiar face again, and I enjoyed trying out a new night market.

Nightmarkeds are one of the best things about Taiwan, and although you can buy all kinds of things there, to me they are mostly about food. The meals are composed as you walk along the stalls, usually in small portions, so that you can try out lots of places before you are too full to continue.

This poster says something like “Cooperating with you to create wealth.” Posting it because it’s related to a conversation I had. Asked a girl why people in Taiwan are so helpful, and she said people there actually have a stronger incentive to help others. One reason being that dissatisfaction with the services provided by the state had made people take matters into their own hands.  Additionally there is a belief that both people and businesses must do good and contribute to society in order to be successful. Consequently both people and companies are investing in making society better for everyone. Could be I’m putting too much into this, but  it seems the people really care about doing some good. I wonder what kind of social engineering could be used to inspire this in other countries. Must it be a small country? I kept asking people why they cared so much about both society and the environment, and they would answer: “This is just a small island. If we don’t take care, we would feel it very soon.” Very inspiring.

Creative English, used intentionally and unintentionally, also make the days more interesting. This sign didn’t really make me want to go in there, but maybe that’s just me, because I have seen these shops in several places.

Outside a restaurant steam comes from a statue’s fingers every few seconds. If only I could do that!

After the week in Taipei I went back to HK. Wasn’t sure what to do with my time. Knew a few people I could call, but felt lazy. Ended up walking around the tourist areas, like the harbor, with the Star Ferries, which are old and stylish, and a good alternative to the mtr, when you want to go out to the island. You can even pay the fare with the card from the mtr. In fact you can pay lots of things with the Octopus Card. Since I have this fear of spreading my personal information about, I like this card a lot. It’s digital money, that are entirely anonymous. Why doesn’t every place have this?

There were more exotic boats about, but I guess they’re just tourist attractions.

Found Mr Lee again. He still looks worried. Maybe it’s because of the constant flow of tourists, flocking around, making threatening poses and sounds.

Blue movie poster. When a poster is left up until it fades to this shade of blue, you know it’s a good movie. I love this one. Some day I’ll have to accept that HK is not only about Jackie Chan, but not yet.

As the sun finally managed to find a way down between the skyscrapers, I though of the black kites from my previous visit. It turns out that during winter HK has the largest populations of these in the world. They are all over the place, and most active around sunset. So I noted the time, and decided to go to the peak the next day.

Gangway poster – Are kites are allowed? 😉

Improvised a route up to the peak the next day. Ended up on The Green Trail, or something like that. Saw some kites, but only from a distance. Got much more lucky a few days later, but that’s a different story.

Part of the view from the peak, before and after nightfall.

Another day I tried to sneak up on some skyscrapers instead. That was much easier.

In HK small skyscrapers have bigger skyscrapers that they can go shopping in…

The big city gets a bit too much for me after a while, and then I look for places to hide away. The Central Library was one of those places. Good selection of books there, and books make feel safe, and life meaningful. Think that might be a sign I’ve been at the university too long. Hope I will get away one day, but can I really make it on my own out there?

Later on I thought about trying out some of the gyms in HK, but eventually decided to leave that for another time. Note to self: Good gyms are supposed to be Pure, California, Physical, Fitness First.

Towards the end of my stay, I moved to Hong Kong University to visit a friend studying there. HKU is the oldest university, and a place I’ve wanted to see for some time. This was by far the best part of my trip. I didn’t go to HK to be a tourist, but to get a feel for the place, as I’m thinking of going there to work later on. After stuying Chinese I feel sort of stretched. Don’t really belong back home, and not in China either. Have to go over there when I have the chance, but not sure what to do with  my time there. It usually just makes me wonder why I started studying Chinese in the first place. But I forget about all that when I get to hang out with someone familiar, who knows the way around the place. Also, the rooms at the guest house there were awsome! A bit more expensive than a hostel, but more spacious and well equipped than a hotel.

“Sapientia et Virtus” – “Clever and Nice,” or something thereabouts.

Graduate students were climbing all over the place, getting their photographs.

We watched the light show from the harbour one evening. Pretty unique to HK, and it really points out how special this city is. Another day we took a ferry out  to Lamma Island. Amazing that half an hours boat ride away from the busy atmosphere of the city takes you to such a quiet and idyllic place. Lots of people live there and work in the city, getting the best of both worlds.

Just as I started running low on Asics it was time to go home.

The flight back was the smoothest yet. Like a phone I switched to flight mode, and shut of all contact with the world. Couldn’t really tell whether 10 hours had passed, or just 1. The longest stretch took about 12 hours, which is a long time to just sit in a chair, but somehow it didn’t really start to hurt until they said we were going to land soon. Anticipation is dangerous stuff. When I traveled the other way, I’d made sure to have a proper workout the day before, and I wished I’d had done the same now. Much more easy to sit still and relax when that is what the body wants to do anyway.

When I got home I realized I’d forgotten all about home, school, and my normal life. After a heavy semester that’s a real blessing, and the best way I could have prepared for the next one.

So that’s Taipei and HK through my eyes and camera. Much of it is just the standard tourist motives. Will try to something more meaningful next time. Maybe even find a job for a while.


Sitter på toget til Ruifang og trives.

Det tok en ukes tid å lande ordentlig etter den lange flyturen. Jet-laget satt i lenger enn jeg kunne ønske, det tok tid å bli kjent med noen nye venner, og jeg har vært en del syk, fram til jeg kom på å begynne med allergimedisinene igjen. Raskt oppsummert er jeg lei av reisinga mellom her og hjemme, og det midlertidige preget alt får mens jeg er her – midlertidige bosteder, midlertidige venner. Neste gang jeg reiser ned håper jeg det kan være for å gjøre noe nyttig, og for en lengere periode. Likevel er 2 uker perfekt for ferie – lenge nok til å glemme hverdagen hjemme, og kort nok til at man ikke sliter seg ut.

Turen til Taiwan og oppholdet her har gått helt knirkefritt. Nå bor jeg på the Flip Flop Hostel, som er nytt, stort, og fullt av hyggelige mennesker. Om du lurer på hvor du skal bo i Taipei, og det er fullt på the Chocolate Box, så er Flip Flop verdt et forsøk.

I dag går turen forhåpentligvis til Jiufen, et sted som har blitt populært blandt turister som ikke vil reise for langt unna Taipei. Det ligger i en fjellside, ute ved kysten helt nord i Taiwan, og er historisk viktig på flere måter

Historie har blitt spennende i det siste. Alt det jeg lurer på når jeg ser rundt meg er visst direkte forårsaket av historien. Hvem skulle trodd det? Og ofte ser man sammenhengen mellom hendelsene…

Et par timer seinere

Tilbake på toget. Har vært i Jiufen. Ikke så spennende – mer kaldt og vått i dag, men greit å ha vært der. Så gjelder det bare å få sett Spirited Away, og se om jeg kan kjenne igjen omgivelsene.

Historie, ja. Før har jeg sett på historie mest som en belastning, men nå har jeg så mange spørsmål. Hvorfor er folk så hjelpsomme på Taiwan, og så mye mer laidback enn i andre land? Hvordan og hvorfor ble de så vanvittig opptatt av miljø? Hvor har de gjort av alle søppelkassene? Hvordan passer innlandskina, Japan, og Maoriene inn i det hele? Her må det nok lesing til.

Det var alt for denne gangen. Skal prøve å skrive igjen når jeg er tilbake i Hong Kong.

Fortsatt god ferie til alle!


Lufthansa are pretty good. Or at least they were this time. Their employees were pleasant (and the passengers too). I made the connection in Munich, even though the plane was delayed by 40 minutes.

We even got a menu, describing our 3 course meals, like in a fine restaurant. The meal itself was the same as on any normal flight, but it felt good all the same.

I can never really believe that I’ll get all the way to the other side of the world. If you combine Murphy’s law and something as complicated as a commercial aircraft, it should not be possible. But they prove me wrong, time and time again.

Still, it’s a long flight. When we finally got to HK it was evening here. I took the mtr over to HK island, found my way to Yessinn Hostel, and by then it was pretty late.

A friend recommended Yessinn to me, and for a budget hostel it seems a perfect balance between price & comfort.

After leaving my stuff in the innermost corner there, I went out and walked around a bit, looking for something to eat. After studying for a few years, ordering food here is still pretty much waving my hands and making universal sounds of hunger and confusion, but as long as I get to eat I’m happy.

Afterwards I looked around a bit, for signs of Chrismas celebration so far from home, and the prospects are colorful.

Day 2

I won’t write this much later on, but wanted to let everyone know I got  where I planned to, and am having fun.

Today I woke up around 6:30, and an hour later I gave up trying to fall asleep again, got up, went out looking for breakfast, but found eagles instead. Or at least some kind of ginormous birds, playing around between the rooftops.

When I see that kind of thing back home, it’s usually just one, and maybe, and very far away, over some hilltop. So seeing them like this, outside peoples windows, was really something. At most I saw seven of them, all in one place. Really whish I’d had a better lens for my camera.

But I didn’t, and so, here follows a bunch of photos with small smudges on them, that could be birds, of uncertain dimensions.

After that, I headed back down the stairs, into the city, and finally got some breakfast at a Yoshinoya. All in all, a great way to begin the day, and my stay here.

Hope you are all doing well, both back home and everywhere else! See you soon!

I need stuff in my life to be neatly arranged, and therefore spend a lot of time just sorting through and arranging things. I have an instinctive need to see the outline of any dataset I’m working on. So when I started learning Chinese characters  life suddenly got very complicated. For it is an infinite set.

If you want to learn the language, you need some kind of overview of the characters. Otherwise,  how will you select which characters to practice? Because that is the key, I think, to mastering it. Not working too hard, but rather getting into a routine of frequent short practice sessions with the most useful selections of characters.

Hunting for characters

Everyone learn in their own way. Some people like to just make a word file, and add words there whenever they stumble upon something new, maybe sorting them into categories along the way. I study programming, so I like to make my programs sort my characters for me, keep track of which ones I don’t remember, and select some for practice every day. But we all have to get our characters from somewhere, preferably along with their respective pronunciations and definitions. That is where the internet comes into the picture. If a character is used frequently enough that is has been encoded, and is usable on a PC, then I want it in my collection. So I go hunting for such characters on the internet.

Medium sized lists

A good place to start is the List of Frequently Used Characters in Modern Chinese, or 现代汉语常用字表 (3500 characters). If you  get these characters under control, your Chinese is already very good.

If you still want more after that, try the List of Commonly Used Characters in Modern Chinese, or 现代汉语通用字表 (7000 characters). I read somewhere that this is around the number of characters that an average Chinese person knows, if he/she attended university.

More about 通用字表 on Wikipedia.

But I found one with even more characters (9933 characters).

The longest list: Unihan / Unicode

This must be the biggest collection there is, because it is simply a list of nearly all the characters possible on a PC, made available by the people who encoded them. It also includes lots of information about the characters – often definition, frequency, along with both Mandarin, Cantonese, and Japanese pronunciation. And if you are technical enough, you can download it in xml-format.

Understanding their site takes some time, but is well worth it.

In short, the characters in Unicode that make up Unihan have values in the ranges described below. I don’t know much about them yet, but guess all the more common characters lie in the main block.

3400-4db5 ext A
4e00-9fa5 main block
f900-fa2d compatibility graphs
20000-2a6d6 ext B
2f800-2fa1d compatibility graphs supplement

Compound words

When it comes to words consisting of more than one character, the most comprehensive lists I have found so far are those meant for preparation to the HSK-test. The test was redesigned in 2010. Wikipedia says the total number of words, for advanced level in the old version was 8840, but has been reduced to 5000 in the new version.

The new vocabulary can be downloaded in Excel-format or csv from lingomi.com (5000 words).

Found the old one at http://www.tanos.co.uk, also as csv, but separated into 4 files (maybe 8840 words).

Traditional versus simplified

The lists described above consist mostly of simplified characters. But there is no reason not to learn traditional characters as well. For most characters in simplified Chinese there will either be a one-to-one mapping to a traditional version, or the character will look exactly the same in both sets. For a few characters the simplified version could mean one out of several traditional characters. That made me think traditional characters would be hard to learn, but later I found out that only a handful of characters are like that. You can see them all here.


People in Hong Kong seem to use a combination of traditional characters and some additional characters. Sometimes people say it is only a spoken language, but unicode, at least, supports characters that seem meant for Cantonese  only.

http://www.cantonese.sheik.co.uk proivdes a short list of Cantonese-only characters, along with lots of other resources for Cantonese learning.

When I ask people from HK about this they often say those characters are only used for chatting online and such, that you would not be taken seriously if you used it in a formal context, and that you have to use Mandarin when you want to write things down. That sounds a bit strange. Older people from HK often have very poor Mandarin, but I doubt that they are unable to write.

The choice of a national language happened about a hundred years ago. That means there should be Cantonese books available from before that period, but the only example I have heard of is the wooden fish books. Also, some old poems are said to sound better if read out in Cantonese, rather than in Mandarin.

Subtitles for older movies sometimes use Cantonese-only characters. Today mandarin written with traditional characters is more common.

It is not easy to learn a language without the aid of written materials. I hope some books will turn up sooner or later. If you know Cantonese, please write one!

That’s it. Hope there was something useful in here. The links given are the best sources I have found so far. If you know of any better ones, then I would really like to know.