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Why Do You Ask?The Function of Questions in Institutional Discourse$
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Alice Freed and Susan Ehrlich

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195306897

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195306897.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 15 May 2021

Grammar and Social Relations

Grammar and Social Relations

Alternative Forms of Yes/No–Type Initiating Actions in Health Visitor Interactions

5 Grammar and Social Relations
Why Do You Ask?

Geoffrey Raymond

Oxford University Press

This chapter, written by Geoffrey Raymond, explores two kinds of yes/no questions—yes/no declaratives (YNDs) and yes/no interrogatives (YNIs)—in interactions between health visitor nurses (HVs) and mothers who have recently given birth. According to Raymond, these two kinds of yes/no questions differ in terms of the epistemic stance of the questioner. In using YNDs, speakers claim to know about the matter at hand whereas, in using YNIs, they claim not to know about the matter at hand. Given this difference in epistemic stance, Raymond argues that the two kinds of questions “make relevant” different kinds of responses: The YNI invites an expansive response, whereas the YND invites a relatively nonexpansive response (i.e., simple confirmation of already‐established information). Raymond demonstrates that the different kinds of answers made relevant by the two kinds of yes/no questions are connected to the various kinds of institutional goals of the health visitor nurses.

Keywords:   yes/no declaratives, yes/no interrogatives, epistemic stance, health visitor nurse, expansive response, nonexpansive response, grammatical form of questions

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