15.4 Rhetorical questions

English Notes
BSL Video
Rhetorical questions
Rhetorical questions are questions that the speaker does not expect anyone to answer.  Examples in English would be, “What did I do that for?” or “Where did I leave my mobile?”.  These questions do not need to be answered.

In BSL these rhetorical questions look just like normal questions in structure, and only the function is different. For example,  “MOBILE WHERE?”  “WHERE? OH, IN-BAG”.  In this case the question WHERE? has accompanying non-manual features such as facial expression and eyebrow movements.

In English, rhetorical questions might be used to introduce a topic, for example “So, how did all this start?” then the speaker answers their own question by explaining the topic. In BSL it is a very common device and is simply a way of setting up a topic prior to making a comment on it.  Again, the eyebrows are usually raised and used with other NMFs.

QUIZ – WHICH OF THESE IS A YES-NO QUESTION AND WHICH IS A W-H- QUESTION?;
AGREE YOU?
BEEN BOOK READ?
BIRTHDAY NOW?    
HIM NAME WHAT?
LEAVE NOW WHAT-FOR?
LIKE TUNA?
MAN WHO?
MORE TEA?   
TIME WHAT-IS-IT?
WILL BOOK READ?
YOU LIVE WHERE YOU?
 

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