Chapter published in:Questioning and Answering Practices across Contexts and Cultures
Edited by Cornelia Ilie
[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series 323] 2021
► pp. 109–143
Pragmatic functions of question-answer sequences in Italian legal examinations and TV interviews with politicians
The aim of this chapter is to identify the sequential relationship between coerciveness of questions and equivocation of answers when the same 11 politicians were interviewed on TV, and also examined during a criminal trial. Two observers codified each of the 2,757 question-answer sequences of the sample (37 h of video recordings) for coercion and equivocation. The results show that the coerciveness of questions interacts with the context to determine the equivocation of the answer, and so does the equivocation for determining the coercion of the following question. The interactional asymmetry between politicians and questioners displays opposite patterns in the two contexts: in courtrooms, coercion depends strongly on the equivocation of the answer, but the answer depends more on the coercion exerted by the type of the context; on TV, however, equivocation depends strongly on coercion. The subsequent implications are discussed.
Keywords: coerciveness of questions, equivocation of answers, legal interaction, political interaction, interviews, examinations, sequential analysis
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