4.3.3 Questions and Tag Questions

The features of questions and tag questions proved particularly thorny to analyse, as the range of functions realised in these forms was exceedingly varied, and generalisations could not be made, based on such disparate data. Questions were used to invite the opinions of others, to challenge others' ideas, to pass the responsibility of speaking on to someone else, to gain access to the discussion, and rhetorically, to retain the floor. Tag questions were used to hedge areas of doubt or possible contention, to coerce others into agreeing with the speaker, or to elicit their support.

There were no striking differences in the ways girls and boys used these forms, co-operative and competitive functions being demonstrated by pupils of both genders. It is worthy of note however, that B1 used questions as a means of joining in Group 1, which is a use of questions associated with female speakers rather than male in the literature. As mentioned in the analysis of Group I, the relative status of the speaker appears to be more significant than gender in this respect.


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