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What is a question?



Here are two senses of question:

  1. A question is an illocutionary act that has a directive illocutionary point of attempting to get the addressee to supply information.
  2. A question is a sentence type that has a form (labeled interrogative) typically used to express an illocutionary act with the directive illocutionary point mentioned above. It may be actually so used (as a direct illocution), or used rhetorically.
Examples (English)

Here are some examples of sentences, ordered to illustrate the two senses of question above:

  1. An illocutionary act that attempts to obtain information from an addressee

    • Tell me your name.
    • Give me your address.
  2. Sentences with inverted word order or interrogative pro-forms

    • What’s your name?
    • Did you sleep well?
  Here are some kinds of questions:
  A question is a kind of

Crystal 1985 254


Hartmann and Stork 1972 190


Larson 1984 234


Mish 1991 966

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Go to SIL home page This page is an extract from the LinguaLinks Library, Version 5.0 published on CD-ROM by SIL International, 2003. [Ordering information.]

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