Volume 19, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0929-998X
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9765
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This study investigates an area of interpersonal pragmatic meaning in which the specific framing conditions of public Internet message boards seem to be particularly relevant: patterns of responses to rhetorical questions as one aspect of the negotiation of the rhetorical force of such questions among the participants in a discussion. Rhetorical questions are complex linguistic structures which are described in terms of a set of characteristic pragmatic features, including their answerhood (Ilie 1994, 1999). An analysis of approximately 900 postings to 22 English and 22 German Internet discussion threads on a range of comparable topics showed that rhetorical questions are often subject to negotiation by the participants in an interaction. The responses to such rhetorical questions play a crucial role in this process. This work examines all textual responses to questions that were interpreted as rhetorical and describes their structural patterns and frequency of use as well as different types and functions in the English- and the German-speaking groups. It also discusses the different patterns of use against the background of more general observations on communicative styles and practices across the two language communities.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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