In my ongoing and disjointed attempt to help other people understand Asperger’s Syndrome, I have decided to discuss the problems I have with rhetorical questions.
Via UsingEnglish.com: A rhetorical question is one that requires no answer because the answer is obvious and doesn’t need to be stated . The speaker (of the rhetorical question) is not looking for an answer but is making some kind of a point, as in an argument.
Now, I also have some difficulty with certain types of sarcastic statements, but that’s largely because I’m not only somewhat gullible, but I have actually experienced a wide range of really bizarre happenings, and have learned not to be too surprised when something truly backwards occurs.
From a purely definitive standpoint, I understand the meaning of rhetorical question as well as the next person, but in terms of being able to understand the application of them, I have found my skills to be somewhat lacking. Apparently I’m going through a new social understanding growth spurt, because as of late, I’ve started picking up on when things are rhetorical questions after I have blundered and tried to answer them.
And since now that I understand what a R.Q. (Rhetorical Question) is like in a variety of different situations, I’ve started being able to keep quiet – sometimes, anyways. I’m doing better in classroom settings anyways.
- First of all, teachers are more likely to ask R.Q.’s at the beginning of a class, rather than midway through or at the end.
- It’s important to watch for whether the teacher is asking the entire class or specifically looking for volunteers. This one is a bit harder to discern, but generally speaking, if she/he pauses afterwards and continues to look around at everyone–especially if accompanied by an increasingly annoyed look–then it’s actually a question that she/he wants answered.
- As for personal interactions, watch out for complaints that are voiced in the form of a question. Ex. “Geez! Why is it so cold outside??? That doesn’t require an actual answer, but rather is merely a complaint about the temperature. So my answer, “Because there aren’t any clouds to hold the heat in,” is not the right kind of thing to reply back with. Instead, people prefer you to either agree with them, or disagree by saying something like, “I don’t know; I rather like this temperature!” They don’t actually want to know the answer to their question.