Interrogative Utterances as Discursive Strategy in Legislative Interactional Discourse

Lekan Oyeleye, Ayo Ayodele


This paper examines the discourse function of interrogative utterances in legislative interactional discourse (LID). Texts of legislative sessions of the Lagos and Ogun State Houses of Assembly in Nigeria were purposively sampled and analysed using insights from speech acts, conversation analysis and systemic functional linguistics. The analysis reveals that interrogatives in legislative interactional discourse serve two broad discursive purposes of elicitation and directive which enhance propositional development and coherence. Categories of interrogative utterances with elicitation function include elicit-inform, elicit-clarify, elicit-confirm, elicit-agree and elicit-permit. Interrogative directive utterances deployed almost exclusively by the Speaker serve as a turn allocation cue prompting other legislators’ verbal or action response. It is further revealed that, structurally, these directives are expressed as one of the forms May + request, wh-clauses and subject-operator invertednominal phrases. When skilfully deployed by legislators, these interrogative utterances enhance interactional success and improve the process and product of law making and governance in Nigeria.

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International Journal of English Linguistics   ISSN 1923-869X (Print)   ISSN 1923-8703 (Online)

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