Volume 7, Issue 3
  • ISSN 1878-9714
  • E-ISSN: 1878-9722
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This paper analyzes the role of question reformulations in the 2004 US presidential debates. While formulations used for questioning have received quite some attention in the literature, no studies, to my knowledge, with the exception of Clayman (1993), have been concerned with question reformulations, that is, formulations given in response to questions. In contrast to Clayman (1993) who examined the ‘directness/evasiveness’ of a reformulation as a collaborative achievement involving a question-answer-pursuit sequence, this paper analyzes it as a collaborative achievement involving a question-answer-answer sequence (like a panel news interview). The analysis shows that the reformulations in the 2004 US presidential debates involve a device for adjusting the question and the subsequent answer to the candidate’s (actual and presumed) audience. Thus, the relative ‘directness/evasiveness’ of a candidate’s answer depends on which of the ‘three’ perspectives (/positions) presented by the question-answer-answer sequence that the overhearing audience is most willing to adopt.


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