Rhetorical questions, relevance and scales


  • Javier Gutiérrez Rexach




Interrogación retórica, Lingüística comparada, Análisis del discurso, Teoría de la relevancia, Usos lingüísticos, Negación, Polaridad negativa, Análisis semántico-pragmático


Rhetorical questions, and other varieties of pragmatically conditioned questions, present a challenge for a purely truth-conditional theory of the interpretation of interrogatives. In this paper, it is argued that relevance-theoretic principles account for the conditions of use of rhetorical questions. Concretely, it is proposed that a pragmatic principle, the "Bottom of Scale Principle", critically interacts with the Principle of Relevance and derives the dynamic meaning of the rhetorical use of a question. The Bottom of Scale Principle is also associated with the particular entailment and monotonicity properties of interrogatives, which explain the ability of rhetorical questions to license negative polarity items.


Statistics RUA



How to Cite

Gutiérrez Rexach, Javier. 1998. “Rhetorical Questions, Relevance and Scales”. Alicante Journal of English Studies / Revista Alicantina De Estudios Ingleses, no. 11 (November):139-55. https://doi.org/10.14198/raei.1998.11.11.