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Title: A corpus-based study of rhetorical questions in monologic genres in the framework of relevance theory
Author: Yang, Zhixia
ISNI:       0000 0004 6495 1569
Awarding Body: Birmingham City University
Current Institution: Birmingham City University
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis takes the form of a pragmatic study of Rhetorical Questions (RQs) in the environment of monologue within the theoretical framework of Relevance Theory (Sperber and Wilson, 1986). Two main research questions are involved. The first is how an addressee manages to identify the rhetorical nature of a question, and infer the possible intended assumptions of the addresser. I aim to show that the Code Model, which holds that communication is achieved by encoding and decoding messages in words, is not sufficient in interpreting RQs. In contrast, I shall show that implicatures (implied propositions) conveyed by an RQ can only be interpreted by an inferential model. The second question is how different types of RQ are used to achieve the addresser's persuasive intention in monologic environments. My study consists not only of theoretical argumentation but also of a qualitative analysis of corpus data, in an attempt to extend corpus study to rhetoric and pragmatics, beyond the recent concentration (Sinclair, 1991; Biber et al., 1999; Stubbs, 2001a; Hunston, 2002; Renouf, 2013 etc.) on the lexical, semantic, and syntactic domains. The corpora consulted are the BNC and FLOB, complemented by two self-compiled textual corpora, comprising the genres of political speeches, newspaper editorials and sermons. In the first part of the study, I propose a procedure for identifying an RQ based mainly on the concepts of 'implicature', 'mutual manifestness' and 'optimal relevance' in Relevance Theory. In the second part, the proposed criteria are applied to the identification and interpretation of RQs in three monologic genres to analyse their uses, which display both common and distinctive features. The results of the current study achieve a number of goals. The study endorses Sperber and Wilson (1986)'s arguments about the Code Model and the inferential model. It verifies their claim about the principle of relevance, proving that Relevance Theory is more suitable than Speech Act Theory (Austin, 1962; Searle, 1969) and Grice's Principle and Maxims (1967) for the study of RQs. It extends the application of Relevance Theory to the new field of RQs in the context of monologue, further endorsing the explanatory power of Relevance Theory.
Supervisor: Ingham, Richard ; Kehoe, Andrew ; Renouf, Antoinette ; Lutzky, Ursula Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Q100 Linguistics ; Q300 English studies