Why Do You Ask?

Why Do You Ask? : The Function of Questions in Institutional Discourse

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The act of questioning is the primary speech interaction between an institutional speaker and someone outside the institution. These roles dictate their language practices. "Why Do You Ask?" is the first collected volume to focus solely on the question/answer process, drawing on a range of methodological approaches like Conversational Analysis, Discourse Analysis, Discursive Psychology, and Sociolinguistics-and using as data not just medical, legal, and educational environments, but also less-studied institutions like telephone call centers, broadcast journalism (i.e. talk show interviews), academia, and telemarketing. An international roster of well-known contributors addresses such issues as: the relationship between the syntax of the question and its discourse function; the kind of institutional work that questions perform; the degree to which the questioner can control the direction of the conversation; and how questions are used to repackage responses, to construct meaning, and to serve the institutional goals of speakers. Why Do You Ask? will appeal to linguists and others interested in institutional discourse, as well as those interested in the grammatical/pragmatic nature of questions.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 376 pages
  • 154 x 236 x 24mm | 539.77g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0195306902
  • 9780195306903
  • 1,555,654

Table of contents

1. The Function of Questions in Institutional Discourse: An Introduction ; 2. The Design and Positioning of Questions in Inquiry Testimony ; 3. Questioning in Medicine ; 4. Interrogating Tears: Some Uses Of 'Tag Questions' In A Child Protection Helpline ; 5. Grammar and Social Relations: Alternative Forms of Yes/No Type Initiating Actions in Health Visitor Interaction ; 6. Asking Ostensibly Silly Questions in Police-Suspect Interrogations ; 7. Pursuing Views and Testing Commitments: Hypothetical Questions in the Psychiatric Assessment of Transsexual Patients ; 8. Questions that Convey Information in Teacher-Student Conferences ; 9. Is that right? Questions and Questioning as Control Devices in the Workplace ; 10. Questioning in Meetings: Participation and Positioning ; 11. The Spatial and Temporal Dimensions of Reflective Questions in Genetic Counselling ; 12. Questions in Broadcast Journalism ; 13. Questions and Institutionality in Public Participation Broadcasting ; 14. "I'm calling to let you know!": Company Initiated Telephone-Sales ; 15. "How may I help you?" Questions, Control and Customer Care in Telephone Call Centre Talk
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Review quote

This volume provides very valuable insights into the roles which questioning enables speakers and listeners to adopt within a broad range of institutional discourse. It contributes significantly to our understanding of how questioning occurs and how interactants can and do use questions for their own ends or to achieve institutional goals. * Helen de Silva, Discourse Studies *
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About Alice Freed

Alice Freed is Professor of Linguistics, Montclair State University.
Susan Ehrlich is Professor of Linguistics, York University, Canada
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