This paper aims to explore whether some rhetorical questions contain certain linguistic elements or forms which would differentiate them from answer-eliciting and action-eliciting questions, and thereby hint at their rhetorical nature even outside the context. Namely, despite the fact that the same questions can be rhetorical in one context, and answer-eliciting in another, some of them are more likely to be associated with rhetorical or non-rhetorical use. The analysis is based on extensive data (over 1200 examples of rhetorical questions taken from 30 plays by two British and two American writers), and the results are expected to give an insight into whether we can talk about rhetorical questions or just a rhetorical use of questions.
Athanasiadou, Angeliki (1991). The discourse function of questions. Pragmatics: 1.1: 107-122.
Brown, Penelope, Steven C. Levinson (1987). Politeness. Some Universals in Language Usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Frank, Jane (1990). You call that a rhetorical question? Forms and functions of rhetorical questions in conversation. Journal of Pragmatics 14: 723-738.
Gergen, David (2001). Eyewitness to Power: The Essence of Leadership Nixon to Clinton. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Han, Chung-hye (2002). Interpreting interrogatives as rhetorical questions. Lingua 112: 201-229
Jung, Verena, Angela Schrott (2003). A question of time? Question types and speech act shifts from a historical-contrastive perspective: some examples from Old Spanish and Middle English. Jasczolt, Katarzyna M., Ken Turner eds. Meaning Through Language Contrast. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 345 – 371.
Ilie, Cornelia (1994) What Else Can I Tell You? A Pragmatic Study of English Rhetorical Questions as Discursive and Argumentative Acts. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International.
Sadock, Jerrold M. (1974) Toward a Linguistic Theory of Speech Acts. New York: Academic Press.
Schaffer, Deborah (2005). Can rhetorical questions function as retorts? Is the Pope Catholic? Journal of Pragmatics 37: 433-460.
Schmidt-Radefeldt, Jürgen (1977). On so called ‘rhetorical’ questions. Journal of Pragmatics 1: 375-392.
Zwarts, Frans (1996). A hierarchy of negative expressions. In Heinrich Wansing ed. Negation: A notion in focus. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter , 169–194.
Miller, A.: A View from the Bridge (1955) (The Forms of Drama, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1972); Death of a Salesman (1949); After the Fall (1964); The American Clock (1980); The Last Yankee (1993); Broken Glass (1994) (The Portable Arthur Miller, Bigsby C., Penguin Group, 2003).
Pinter, H.: The Dumb Waiter (1957); The Caretaker (1959) (The Caretaker and The Dumb Waiter: Two Plays, Grove Press, 1988); The Birthday Party (1957) (The Birthday Party and The Room: Two Plays, Grove Press, 1961); The Hothouse (1958) (The Hothouse, Grove Press, 1999); The Lover (1962) (The Lover, Tea Party, The Basement: Two Plays and a Film Script, Grove Press, 1967); The Homecoming (1964) (The Homecoming, Grove Press, 1966); Betrayal (1978) (Betrayal, Grove Press, 1979).
Stoppard, T.: The Real Inspector Hound (1968); Dirty Linen (1976) (The Real Inspector Hound and Other Plays, Grove Press, 1998); Squaring the Circle (1984) (Tom Stoppard: Plays 3, Faber and Faber, 1998); Arcadia (1993) (Arcadia, Faber and Faber, 1993, fifth printing 2000); The Invention of Love (1997) (The Invention of Love, Grove Press, second edition, 1998); Voyage (2002) (Voyage: The Coast of Utopia Play 1, Faber and Faber, 2002).
Williams, T.: Orpheus Descending (1957); Suddenly Last Summer (1958); Sweet Bird of Youth (1959); Period of Adjustment (1960); The Mutilated (1966); Kingdom of Earth (1968); Out Cry (1971); Small Craft Warnings (1972); The Eccentricities of a Nightingale (1976); Vieux Carre (1977); A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur (1979) (Tennessee Williams: Plays 1957-1980, The Library of America, New York, 2000).