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Volume 1 Number 2, Autumn 2004, Pages 1-171   


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'well thank you David for that question': The Intonation, Pragmatics and Structure of Q&A Sessions in Public Discourses

    Winnie Cheng


This paper describes the analysis of the Q&A sessions of public speeches and presentations from the Hong Kong Corpus of Spoken English. These Q&A sessions are typically in marked contrast to the highly planned monologues that precede them and so require very different strategies from the speakers. This paper examines seven Q&A sessions from four perspectives, namely question types, pragmatics, rhetorical structures and intonation. Quantitative analyses of the data focus on the pragmatic functions and the question type of all the questions, the rhetorical structure of all the answers, and the tone choices of all the questions. Qualitative analysis of excerpts of the Q&A sessions focuses on the pragmatics, structure and intonation in order to illustrate the ways in which discourse participants manage face and negotiate meaning. Finally, the implications of the findings for learning and teaching will be discussed.



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