A Cognitive Pragmatic Study of Rhetorical Questions

Xin Wang


While the previous researches on rhetorical questions are quite extensive, the inherent mechanism of rhetorical questions is yet to be explored. This study established the scenario of rhetorical questions making statements (called the RQ scenario) which is composed of three components: the BEFORE—the speaker disagrees with the hearer, considering the hearer’s utterance or action as unreasonable, inappropriate and the like and wants the hearer to accept his or her opinion or perform the required action; the CORE—the speaker challenges the hearer to agree with him or her or do the required action and its immediate RESULT—the hearer is challenged to agree with the speaker or do something as is required; and the AFTER—the hearer will agree with the speaker or do the action as required. It is held that in the RQ scenario, each component bears a metonymic relationship to the other components and to the whole. So, by highlighting one of the three components of the scenario, the speaker is making statements when asking rhetorical questions.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5539/ells.v4n1p42

English Language and Literature Studies   ISSN 1925-4768 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4776 (Online)

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