On the Questioning Speech-acts and the Kinds of Ignorance they Address
This chapter, drawing on Austin's (1953) analysis of speech-acts — his ‘quartet’, takes up some very short, if not very simple, sentence-types to illustrate the interplay between the various factors that go into the asking of a question. With the formal analysis now in place, it seeks to position this analysis within a broader speech-act theory. In speech-act terms, some apparently simple cases, such as Who is the thief?, will turn out to be quite complex, as will Who is stealing what?, Who is who?, and Which is which? These last cases allow consideration of the nature of identity statements and their corresponding identity questions. Over and above these matters, there is the fact that by asking a question, a speaker may ask either for a thing-in-the-world, such as an item or a property, or a piece of language, such as a name or a predicate. This fact, noticed by Austin, has enormous implications for the analysis both of questions and of questioning.
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