Questions and tag questions

The way the members of this group ask questions and give answers is an aspect of the discussion which suggests that there is a hierarchical relationship between G5 and G6. G6 asks questions most frequently, G5 answers questions most frequently. G6's questions are requests for information, and G5's answers provide information. Such a clear distribution of request for and provision of information is typical of asymmetrical relationships, suggesting that the structure of the group is not one of equality, but one of hierarchy. G6 takes up the role of 'foil' to G5, asking questions which G5 then answers. Jenkins and Cheshire (1990) found girls typically taking the role here taken by G6, and feeding questions to the boys for them to answer, as G6 does here to G5. Instances of G6 asking for information which G5 provides occur at lines 2-3, and lines 84-87.

2. G6: but Viola is the one that's dressed up as a

3. G5: =uhuh as a boy

G6: servant?=

84. G6: if the Duke falls in love with Viola (.) how can

85. G5: (.) ah but it's sep.

G6: Olivia fall in love with the Duke

86. G5: it's separate stories (.) it's not (.) it doesn't go in

87. G5: that order

G6: oh right

The hierarchical structure of the group is also indicated by the distribution of tag questions. G5 is the speaker who most uses tag questions, despite asking no "full" questions. G5's tag questions appear to be to check her listeners follow her arguments, rather than asking for support, since she does not appear to be in any doubt about the views she expresses. She uses one formal tag question (lines 93-94) and the informal tag 'right' six times:

15. G5: Viola

16. G5: does like (.) Olivia right but she's not in love with

17. G5: her but she likes her (.) right and a. as a friend she

G6: yeah as a friend

G6 does not always take a subordinate position in the discussion. She does, for example, join in with G5 to give an answer at line 7, and between lines 30-68, answers at length a question which she herself has posed. However, overall in this discussion, G6 appears to take a subordinate position to G5 in her use of questions, and G5 takes a position of authority in her use of tag questions, and non-use of "full" questions.

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