Vol. 27 No. 2 (2019): Issue 2/2019

Le domande orientate e retoriche in cinese: strumento persuasivo o manipolatorio?

Chiara Piccinini
Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

Published 12/10/2019


  • rhetorical questions,
  • Chinese language,
  • conversation analysis

How to Cite

Piccinini, C. (2019). Le domande orientate e retoriche in cinese: strumento persuasivo o manipolatorio?. L’Analisi Linguistica E Letteraria, 27(2). Retrieved from https://www.analisilinguisticaeletteraria.eu/index.php/ojs/article/view/74


Rhetorical questions (fănwènjù 反问句) in Chinese language are used in communicative contexts to emphasize a sentence and convince an interlocutor of the speaker’s point of view.

Li and Thompson (1984) e Liu Yuehua et al. (2001), among other linguists, distinguish between yes/ no questions and rhetorical questions: the first are sentences occurring in a negative interrogative form (不是……吗?  shì..ma“isn’t it true that…?”) that underlie an utterance based on the common point of view of interlocutors, or that starts either from common knowledge or from an evidence; rhetorical questions, on the other way, are formed by interrogative pronouns and modal particles, such as 呢 ne 啊 a, occurring at the end of the utterance (i.e.: 他怎么知道呢?  zěnme zhīdao ne“How does he know that?”) and underlying an opposite semantic value to that expressed by interrogative pronouns, that emphasizes that value.

These interrogative sentences, both yes/no questions and rhetorical ones, are widely employed as rhetorical means of persuasion. In my contribution I would like to concentrate on the observation of some of these sentences as they occur in two corpora: one of them contains conversations registered in a class of Chinese language teaching to Italian learners and the second recorded in Taiwan, containing radio conversations on a subject of common interest (health, sports and curious facts).

I will determine if the questions observed in the two corpora show a manipulative use of the language.