Talk:Rhetorical question

Page contents not supported in other languages.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
WikiProject iconLinguistics B‑class
WikiProject iconThis article is within the scope of WikiProject Linguistics, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of linguistics on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
BThis article has been rated as B-class on Wikipedia's content assessment scale.
 ??? This article has not yet received a rating on the project's importance scale.

Shelly's question[edit]

The closing line of Shelly's poem 'Ode to the West Wind' ends with what is considered a rhetorical question... 'If winter comes can spring be far behind ?' That should be added to this article. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:39, 30 December 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

older entries[edit]

How does one start a page called "Rhetorical Question"?

Could it be with an interrogative?

Or is it possible the use of such a figure could be confusing?

I wonder if anyone else in the world wonders such things?

Who knows? Slac speak up! 04:41, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Are these the best questions we can think of in a discussion of rhetorical questio

Does a bear shit in the woods?[edit]



The article seems to confuse concepts like idiomatic expressions and figurative speech with rhetorical questions; those concepts have nothing to do with one another. So examples about Australians and non-native speakers don't belong here.

Good point. I've removed that stuff. --C S (Talk) 02:33, 23 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Are you coming the raw prawn? Rhetorical questions are a de facto figure of speech which do indeed have idiomatic variations. I have attempted to clarify the section and provide citations which will hopefully help you understand this topic better.

I have to agree, those examples are out of place. "Are you pulling my leg?" very often does prompt an answer, along the lines of "No, I'm serious!" It's not a rhetorical question at all. --Reuben (talk) 02:41, 28 March 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
They don't seem to be epiplexis either. I'm removing the section as it appears to be based on misunderstandings. I can't find any support for the claims in the sources provided; the Kreuz et al. poster isn't even related to the paragraph it's cited in here. --Reuben (talk) 02:44, 28 March 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I'm removing the claim about "prescriptivists" considering formal use of rhetorical questions a grammatical error, as it's not at all supported by the reference provided. The link does say that the term "rhetorical question" is sometimes used in a way that's technically incorrect, but it doesn't say anything about the correctness of rhetorical questions themselves. --Reuben (talk) 02:32, 28 March 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Cleaned up[edit]

I cleaned this up a bit. I guess a couple of points need explaining:

  • I added Does a bear shit in the woods? whilst unaware of the discussion here. I really think this is the most familiar example of a rhetorical question available to us, and should be included here.
  • I removed How many roads must a man walk down before they call him a man? Notwithstanding what Lisa Simpson says, it is not at all clear that this is a rhetorical question. I suggest that including it makes it look like we have a bad case of "Everything I know about literary devices I learned from The Simpsons" (and by the way, I hate to break it to you, but toilets don't' swirl in different directions in different hemispheres)
  • I added a discussion of the many uses in Maria, which contains some good examples and hopefully strikes a nice balance between having literary value and being familiar to many people.

Hesperian 06:03, 10 May 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I removed "Is Salman Rushdie's phone number unlisted", because this requires somewhat specialist knowledge of the fatwa in relation to The Satanic Verses and its aftermath, and is not in common usage. Rodhullandemu 00:31, 11 May 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree. This is not at all a good example, because, as you say, it is not well known and not universally understood. Hesperian 00:41, 11 May 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Funny, one then gets more oblique double-refs --> thus, mixing the pope and bear metaphors, for the humorous, "Does the pope shit in the woods", wouldn't add it though as I have not seen it discussed in RSs...Casliber (talk · contribs) 03:48, 6 August 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Positive Assertion[edit]

I'm curious how a rhetorical question with a positive assertion fits. It's not in the article exactly. As an example (parent speaking to child) "didn't we tell you not to do that?" --D3matt (talk) 18:28, 19 August 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Structurally this is still negative assertion; the meaning becomes positive because this is negative assertion of a negative statement:
  1. Original question: "did we not tell you?"
  2. Convert to assertion: "we did not tell you."
  3. Negate: "We did tell you!"
Hesperian 23:13, 19 August 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Is the Pope Catholic? No.[edit]

Is the Pope Catholic? redirects to this article and is used as an example in the article. Yet for some traditionalist Catholics the answer is no. Is there a better way to word this example? --Damian Yerrick (talk | stalk) 14:45, 27 May 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It's a rhetorical question. Even if they think the answer is technically no, everyone knows what is implied. That's the point.-- (talk) 00:55, 30 November 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Citation needed?[edit]

I confused about the citation needed statement here. This is just an example. If a more well-known example of 'or is it?' is needed, this is difficult. OK, it may be original research, but then again, has anyone researched it, or is it just common knowledge? (talk) 09:45, 20 July 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

'Life of Brian' example[edit]

For example, What have the Romans ever done for us? (Monty Python's Life of Brian) should be read as The Romans have never done anything for us.

Um, have the editors who wrote this even seen the scene in Life of Brian? It's actually a dramatization of a failed rhetorical question. The expected answer is "nothing," but in fact the humor of the scene is that the question prompts a litany of benefits. It's a parody of conventional political rhetoric that exploits unexamined assumptions. It wouldn't be funny if the answer were actually "nothing." Cynwolfe (talk) 14:51, 9 December 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

? absolutely is needed[edit]

Rhetorical questions in print absolutely do require interrogation marks. Can't you guys get anything right? The use of punctuation marks is part of signalling grammar in transcription. The concept of rhetorical question is one of interpretation. The real question for typographers is whether the emphasis in the spoken form should be reflected in the typographic form (as above). In my experience this is very often done, especially in works of fiction or in reporting actual speech. Macdonald-ross (talk) 11:04, 14 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

the only picture being a political divisive, if not untrue[edit]

"where is my vote" "Protest in Germany against electoral fraud in Iran in 2009"

is this really the most appropriate picture one could find? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:18, 20 June 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I was the one who put it there and, yes, a\t the time I thought it was an appropriate one. I don't see a valid reason for removing it, only a (rhetorical?) question by, and have put it back. Apdency (talk) 20:11, 30 April 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"I viewed the Rhetorical Question page from a link on the Wikipedia "Blowin' in the Wind" article (Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature today). When I touched the link on the "Blowin' in the Wind" for the word "rhetorical", I viewed the "Where Is My Vote" picture and wondered what does that mean, is this a mistake? (No irony intended, that was not a rhetorical question.) Seeking some clarification, I looked at the Talk here concerning the use of the "Where Is My Vote" picture, and I agree, is this really the most appropriate picture one could find? Thinking about it, it seems that the use of a cartoon which poses a rhetorical question would be appropriate to quickly and clearly communicate an example of a rhetorical question (google "rhetorical question cartoon" for many, many examples). An issue involved with the use of a particular cartoon for this purpose would be how "fair use" applies to the cartoon's use on Wikipedia. I realize that there is a Wikipedia page discussing fair use and there is also the Wikipedia:Image use policy. This policy might be apparent; however, I would not trust how I might interpret the policy vis-à-vis this specific application. Could someone with expertise address the image use of a cartoon for this purpose? Osomite (talk) 19:18, 13 October 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

If you really can find a better one (or even anoher one just as good) then by all means! In fact go for your life. In the meantime this one is perfectly appropriate - and, with "alleged" added to the caption, its not even POV any more. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 02:20, 20 December 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Nearly three years later this still seems to be causing unrest - why not just change the caption? It now now longer mentions Germany (or Iran - which one suspects was always the main problem), --Soundofmusicals (talk) 14:10, 18 September 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I know this image was evidently added in good faith many years ago. But, as others have noted, it's not a very on-point illustration of the "rhetorical question" concept; and taken out of its original context, it can cause confusion or even suspicions of politically motivated vandalism to the article. As it seems to me an article about a rhetorical device is just fine without an image, I am being bold and removing this one, figuring that in this instance no image is preferable to an iffy one. Jcejhay (talk) 13:07, 18 November 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Proposed merge with Erotema[edit]

This seems just to be another name for the same thing. LadyofShalott 01:16, 30 December 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Support  Liam987(talk) 03:13, 28 March 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I agree DoorOpensCloses (talk) 16:03, 5 April 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Pacerier (talk) 14:51, 21 June 2015 (UTC): ❝Reply[reply]
Surely two things are not considered identical just because they seem similar right? I'd suggest we'd get more sources for the Erotema page first. Specifically how the term came about.
Also, are there any proper sources for the etymology of the term "rhetorical question"?

Politeness Aspect Should Be Included?[edit]

I think the politeness aspect of a rhetorical question is an important and nonobvious information that should be included in this article. Specifically: if a question is answered by a rhetorical question, is this always polite, sometimes polite or always impolite? Because ignoring questions is often considered impolite or disrespectful and I think the rhetorical question typically doesn't clearly imply the answer, so it could be understood as not answering the original question. Is answering a question with a rhetorical question a form of evasion (another Wikipedia article)? What about the verbal abuse aspect: does answering a question with a rhetorical question always, sometimes or never constitute verbal abuse? If someone researches the verbal abuse aspect, please include few citations because the verbal abuse concept is fraught with issues of unclear definition in psychology.

Is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also[edit]

Plea for another mass murderer[edit]

I don't like the example of Shakespeare's Mark Antony asking for another Caesar, since Caesar was a terrible warmonger, mass murderer and mass torturer. The widespread ignorance of that should not be fueled by Wikipedia. --2A02:8108:8380:5060:30FB:EABA:2734:F1A7 (talk) 07:30, 28 November 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]