This paper investigates the correlation between the form and function of yes/no interrogatives in spoken French. The
standard language possesses three ways of constructing such interrogatives: verb-clitic inversion; prefixation of a declarative
sentence with the interrogative particle est-ce que; and a rising intonation pattern superposed on a declarative structure.
The choice between the three has traditionally been described in terms of register differences. This paper argues, however, that
the three constructions differ not only on the pragmatic level, but also on the semantic level, and that the choice between them
can be explained, and largely predicted, in terms of three interactional parameters, namely the accessibility of the information
contained in the interrogative; participation structure; and considerations of ‘face’.
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