Theoretical Interpretations of Questions and Power Relations

Jinjun Wang

in Professional Communication

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print April 2009 | ISBN: 9789622099654
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9789882207295 | DOI:
Theoretical Interpretations of Questions and Power Relations

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Linguists have recognized questions to be powerful devices in casual conversation as well as in institutional dialogue. In this chapter, three theoretical orientations—social semiotics, social cognition, and psychology—are adapted in discussing power relations and questions. In terms of social semiotics, questions are perceived as social semiotic acts and questioning exhibits solidarity and power. In terms of social cognition and psychology, on the other hand, the question/answer sequence results from a cognitive schema and shared knowledge. Solidarity and power are further conveyed because of how expecting answers aids in bringing about orderliness. A question, however, is able to reveal unequal social status when seen in the context of systemic-functional linguistics. The chapter concentrates mainly on theoretical exploration about power relations and questions through analyzing various data.

Keywords: social semiotics; social cognition; psychology; power relations; questions; systemic-functional linguistics

Chapter.  7874 words. 

Subjects: Sociolinguistics

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