Beyond Rhetorical Questions
Assertive questions in everyday interaction
This book uses Conversation Analysis methodology to analyze rhetorical and other questions that are designed to convey assertions, rather than seek new information. It shows how these question sequences unfold interactionally in naturally-occurring talk in a variety of settings, e.g., friends arguing over the phone, parents disciplining children, news interviews, and second language writing conferences. The questions are used across these widely different contexts to perform a number of related social actions such as accusations, challenges to prior turns, and complaints. Those used in institution settings, such as teacher-student conferences, orient to institutional norms and roles and can help accomplish institutional goals, e.g., eliciting student error correction. Both the interactional context in which these questions are embedded and the known epistemic authority of the questioner play a role in our understanding of these questions, i.e., what social actions the question is accomplishing in a particular interaction.