‘That is very important, isn’t it?’: Content-oriented questions in British and Montenegrin university lectures
University of Montenegro
This study explores the use of content-oriented questions in British and Montenegrin university lectures. It examines their formal realisation, their frequency and their contextual functions, as well as the differences and similarities related to these questions between British linguistics lectures taken from the standard British corpora, and a specially compiled corpus of Montenegrin linguistics lectures. Compared to previous studies on content-oriented questions, one modified and five new functions are revealed, alongside one new formal realisation. The main differences between the corpora include the greater frequency of content-oriented questions in the Montenegrin lectures and a new questioning realisation, found only in the Montenegrin corpus, which is potentially attributable to differences between academic cultures. The major similarities relate to the use of the four most common question forms, which perform the same contextual functions. This contrastive study thus provides insights into the additional communicative functions and forms of content-oriented questions in university lectures.
The lecture is considered to be the “central aspect of tertiary education” (Suviniitty 2010, 46), an academic genre that has remained a primary teaching method despite the emergence of educational tools such as online learning, multimedia presentations, seminars, tutorials and project work, which often serve only a supplementary role (King 2003, 2). The lecture enables the transmission of knowledge in a particular academic discipline. Lecturers convey their views, ideas and thoughts to students through this medium, which is regarded as the most important teaching forum at the university level (Flowerdew and Miller 1996, 121). As lectures may include sizeable monologue stretches (Thompson 1998, 137), lecturers often face the difficulty of engaging students’ attention and maintaining their interest. To overcome it, they employ a wide variety of involvement strategies, one of which is the use of questions (Thompson 1998, 138).
2000 “Question and Answer Sequencing in Academic Lectures.” In Dialogue Analysis VII: Working with Dialogue, ed. by Malcolm Coulthard, Janet Cotterill, and Frances Rock, 159–170. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag.
2005 “Interactivity in Academic Lectures: The Role of Questions and Answers.” In Dialogue within Discourse Communities: Metadiscursive Perspectives on Academic Genres, ed. by Julia Bamford, and Marina Bondi, 123–145. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag.
Biber, Douglas, Susan Conrad, and Randi Reppen
1998Corpus Linguistics: Investigating Language Structure and Language Use. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Biber, Douglas, Stig Johannson, Geoffrey Leech, Susan Conrad, and Edward Finegan
1999Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English. London: Longman.
2018Govorite li zajednički [Do you speak a mutual language]? Beograd: Biblioteka XX vek.
2012 “The Use of Questions by Professors in Lectures Given in English: Influences of Disciplinary Cultures.” English for Specific Purposes 31: 103–116.
Chuska, Kenneth R.
1995Improving Classroom Questions. A Teacher’s Guide to Increasing Student Motivation, Participation and Higher-Level Thinking. Bloomington: Phi Beta Kappan Educational Foundation.
Crawford Camiciottoli, Belinda
2008 “Interaction in Academic Lectures vs. Written Text Materials: The Case of Questions.” Journal of Pragmatics 40: 1216–1231.
Flowerdew, John, and Lindsay Miller
1996 “Lectures in a Second Language: Notes towards a Cultural Grammar.” English for Specific Purposes 2: 121–140.
Holmes, Janet, and Tina Chiles
2010 “ ‘Is That Right?’ Questions and Questioning as Control Devices in the Workplace.” In “Why Do You Ask?” The Function of Questions in Institutional Discourse, ed. by Alice F. Freed, and Susan Ehrlich, 187–210. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Johansson, Stig, and Knut Hofland
1994 “Towards an English-Norwegian Parallel Corpus.” In Creating and Using English Language Corpora, ed. by Udo Fries, Gunnel Tottie, and Peter Schneider, 25–37. Amsterdam & Atlanta, GA: Rodopi.
King, Julie A.
2003 “A Conversation Analytic/Empirical Pragmatic Account of Lecture Discourse.” PhD Thesis, University of Durham.
Lee, Joseph J.
2009 “Size Matters: An Exploratory Comparison of Small- and Large-class University Lecture Introductions.” English for Specific Purposes 28: 42–57.
2012 “Modifiers in BASE and MICASE: A Matter of Academic Cultures or Lecturing Styles?” English for Specific Purposes 31: 117–126.
Mrazović, Pavica, and Zora Vukadinović
1990Gramatika srpskohrvatskog jezika za strance [A grammar of Serbo-Croatian for nonnative speakers]. Novi Sad: Dobra vest.
Piper, Predrag, Ivana Antonić, Vladislava Ružić, Sreto Tanasić, Ljudmila Popović, and Branko Tošović
2005Sintaksa savremenog srpskog jezika [Syntax of contemporary Serbian]. Beograd: Beogradska knjiga.
Quirk, Randolph, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech, and Jan Svartvik
1985A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language. London and New York: Longman.
2009 “A Cross-cultural Investigation of German and American Academic Style.” Journal of Pragmatics 41 (6): 1104–1124.
Schegloff, Emanuel A., and Harvey Sacks
1973 “Opening up Closings.” Semiotica 7: 289–327.
2010 “Lecturers’ Questions and Student Perception of Lecture Comprehension.” Helsinki English Studies 6: 44–57.
2012Lectures in English as a Lingua Franca: Interactional Features. PhD Thesis. University of Helsinki: Department of Modern Languages.
1998 “Why Ask Questions in Monologue? Language Choice at Work in Scientific and Linguistic Talk.” In Language at Work, ed. by Susan Hunston, 137–150. Clevedon, England: University of Birmingham Press.
2001 “Commitment and Detachment in English and Bulgarian Academic Writing.” English for Specific Purposes 20 (1): 83–102.
2002 “ ‘Selling’ or ‘Telling’: The Issue of Cultural Variation in Research Genres.” In Academic Discourse, ed. by John Flowerdew, 216–232. London: Longman.
2021 “Interaktivnost predavanja iz lingvistike na Univerzitetu Crne Gore [Interactivity of Linguistics Lectures Delivered at the University of Montenegro]”. In Primenjena lingvistika [Applied Linguistics], a special issue in honour of Radmila Šević, ed. by Ksenija Šulović, 271–286. Serbia: Applied Linguistics Association of Serbia, Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Novi Sad, Faculty of Philology of the University of Belgrade.