4.2.6.3 Questions and tag questions

Questions are used in a variety of ways in this discussion. Apart from the set questions read out by B8 in his role as chairperson, there are few cases of speakers using questions to invite others' opinions. "Real questions" function mostly as polite ways of challenging someone else's idea, or to gain and retain the floor; ie. for competitive rather than co-operative ends.

An example of using a question to challenge someone else's idea and take the floor occurs at line 12, when B8 disputes a point B9 has made:

12. B8: (1) do (.) do you think so (.) because

13. B8: (.) he doesn't (.) Bamforth (.) he doesn't stop Bamforth

14. B8: from doing it (.) Bamforth still (1) keeps (1) going on

15. B8: at a lot of other people (.) he doesn't stop him

A similar use is made of a question form by B8 at lines 20, where B8 disagrees with B9: "mm yeah but d'you not think he could be a bit stricter...".

At lines 69-70, G11 asks a question as a rhetorical device which functions as a means of extending her own turn:

69. G11: when (.) you know h. (.) when (.) you know how if they

70. G11: shoot a prisoner of war it would go down very heavily

71. G11: on them when they get back to camp (1) he wasn't all that

72. G11: bothered about killing (1) the prisoner

Both G11 and B8 are using questions competitively therefore, to gain the floor and to challenge other speakers.

Only one formal tag question is used, by G12 at lines 32-33. B9 responds to G12's tag with back channel agreement. Informal tag questions, on the other hand, appear frequently in longer turns where speakers are developing ideas, presumably to monitor whether other members of the group follow the speaker's train of thought, support it, and/or still accept that the speaker continues to holds the floor (eg. 'you know', uttered B9 at lines 8, 10; G11 at lines 58, 63; G12 at lines 50, 53). None of the mid-turn informal tags receives a response, unless there is eye contact or nodding which is not visible on the film. This is a non-co-operative aspect of the discussion.


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