Does this type of question have a name?

I heard a news clip with Obama speaking the other day, and it made me think about a style of questioning I have noticed quite a bit lately. Basically, it’s asking a question and answering it instead of just making a statement.

For example: “Would I prefer to use a PC instead of a Mac? Yes, I would.” - when “I prefer to use a PC” is simpler and more straightforward.

Is there a term for this? Is it a speech pattern that has increased in use lately, or is it confirmation bias that I’m noticing it more?

Hypophora. Not sure if it’s become more popular lately, but since it was used by Ancient Greeks and in the Bible, it’s been around a while.

duplicate post removed

Interesting - I’d never heard that term. Thanks!

On Seinfeld, I believe a person that did that was referred to as a “Question talker”?

It’s just stream of conciousness out loud. When you’re asked a question that you don’t have an instant answer for, you ask yourself. Many people have learned to do that without actually voicing the words, but I’m not among them. I do it frequently.

It certainly does seem common, and I’ve noticed it being used all too annoyingly frequently for at least several years now. It is most commonly used by politicians or police chiefs or anyone giving press conferences. Especially at press conferences. They seem to prefer to ask themselves the obvious questions and then give the obvious answers rather than take questions from the audience.

Whatever the context, I think it’s waaaaaaaaaay overused and thoroughly annoying to listen to and I wish they’d knock it off.

(I mentioned this once a few months ago in a related thread, although I don’t remember any of the details of that thread.)

Got that, all you public speakers out there? Knock it off! You’ve made a worn-out cliche of it already!

Do I have that? Yes, yes, I do.

Well, there are perhaps three ways I hear this technique used

  1. purely as a rhetorical device, to emphasize the point. This probably is overused.
  2. as a way of restating a question from someone else so that your answer can’t be misunderstood. If you listen to a lot of interviews, you’ll see the interviewer sometimes mixes two questions into one or asks a misleading question.
  3. as a way to avoid saying “um” or something like that. You’re still buying time to formulate your response, but rephrasing the question seems more natural than other filler words or silence.

I often restate or rephrase the question when responding to lawyers (who seem to love double negatives) and others who ask confusing or unclear questions.

Q: Didn’t you never try one of those black malty beers from Ireland or Scotland or somewhere? Wasn’t it pretty good?

A: Do I like Guinness? Yes, I do.

I agree completely, but it’s not just to avoid questions from the audience. The kind of use that is increasing is when people are making concessions in their argument. If you control the framing of counter-arguments, it’s easier to defend against them:



PRESS: Did the you make a serious error when you arrested the kindergarten children?

POLICE CHIEF: Yes, we did.

POLICE CHIEF: Were errors made? Yes, they were.

It’s also used (and encouraged) as a way to make sure everybody could hear the question.

Like when the speaker is taking questions from audience members – they don’t have a microphone, so we ask the speaker to repeat the question into this microphone so that everyone can hear what was asked before he answers it.