Constraint factors in the formulation of questions in conflictual discourse: An analysis of Spanish face-to-face election debates

José Luis Blas Arroyo


This paper presents a study of the constraint factors that condition the form and functions of questions in a corpus composed of several face-to-face election debates that took place in Spain during different election campaigns. Some of these factors are of a distributional nature, such as the position of the questions in the politician’s turns at talk, with final positions and fragments of simultaneous speech being the most favourable contexts for the formulation of these utterances. Questions are also favoured by stylistic and rhetorical forces, such as those which lead the speaker to repeat questions or question formats within wider inquisitive sequences, which represent almost half the corpus. In addition, these communicative units are also influenced by institutional factors, such as the political role played by the candidates in the debates (government/opposition), as well as the political expectations and identities that the politicians seek to enhance, and which may vary in different moments of the election campaign.

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