Rhetorical questions as questions

  • Ivano Caponigro
  • Jon Sprouse


We argue that rhetorical questions are semantically the same as ordinary questions. New data is presented to show that rhetorical questions allow for answers and the range of their answers is the same as ordinary questions. An analysis is proposed according to which rhetorical and ordinary questions only differ at the pragmatic level: a question is interpreted as a rhetorical question when its answer is known to the Speaker and the Addressee, while it is interpreted as an ordinary question when its answer it is not know to the Speaker. We model Speaker’s and Addressee’s mutual and individual knowledge by adopting Stalnaker’s (1978) notion of ‘Common Ground’ and enriching it, along the lines of Gunlogson (2001).
How to Cite
Caponigro, I., & Sprouse, J. (2019). Rhetorical questions as questions. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 11, 121-133. https://doi.org/10.18148/sub/2007.v11i0.635