Re Unmarked questions

M & E Anstey anstey at
Fri Aug 17 02:07:07 EDT 2001

Gday David,

Two other examples of questions looking like statements: the final sentence
of Jonah, "Shall I not have compassion ...?" and Uriah's comment to David,
"Will I go home ....?" in 2 Sam 11:11. This is a common phenomenon across
languages, a mismatch between illocutionary force and grammatical
illocution. In English:

a. Is he my brother?
b. He is my brother.
c. He's my brother?
d. Is he my brother!

The intonation changes as you can imagine. The difference between the four
would be located by most theorists in pragmatic/contextual subtelties of

Matthew Anstey
Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam
Faculteit der Godgeleerdheid
"Werkgroep Informatica"
anstey at

+31 (0)20 - 444-6626 (W)
+31 (0)255 - 52-6541 (H)


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