Questions in Early Modern English pamphlets
The paper explores the functions and distribution of questions in the Lampeter Corpus of Early Modern English Tracts, a 1.1 million-word corpus of pamphlets written between 1640 and 1740. Pamphlets are a highly interactive medium with a mostly persuasive function. Thus it is not surprising that pamphlet authors exhibit a critical and inquisitive attitude, which shows itself also in the explicit posing of questions. The questions can be sorted according to function into six major groupings: (i) introducing new information, (ii) provoking reader involvement, (iii) marking authorial emphasis, (iv) getting or focusing attention, (v) supporting the argumentation (backed by a number of conducive features), and (vi) exerting control. Of these, argumentation is clearly the dominant function, while reader involvement enhances the persuasive effect. Statistical analysis reveals questions to be more common in pamphlets, in particular highly contentious religious and political tracts, than in most other monologic texts.
Published online: 22 February 2005
Cited by 3 other publications
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