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Questions and questioning in Montenegrin police interviews

By Marijana Cerovic


Abstract\ud \ud Questions are never asked without a reason, and whenever a question is made, it becomes a vehicle for another action. Questions, on their most basic level, endeavour to strike up an epistemic balance between the interlocutors in that the questioner appears to be seeking information. This study builds on the body of existing literature on questioning in interaction. It explores questions and questioning through a corpus of police interviews recorded in a police station in a Montenegrin city, with a particular focus on how the participants to interrogations are managing questions with purpose in Serbo-Croatian. Similar to other types of institutional interaction in the literature, this study shows that when asking questions, detectives have in mind completing a range of smaller ‘jobs’ as well as solving the project in general. Thus, chapter 4 shows how while performing these jobs, close connection is exhibited between the linguistic form, epistemics and action. The detectives, for instance, select from different linguistic forms of ‘do you know’ interrogatives in order to perform different actions, such as asking for information, asking for confirmation or preparing the ground for another activity. Moreover, the roles of participants in interrogations heavily affect the language and interactional techniques they are using. Thus, certain interactional techniques are noted to be tied only to certain types of interviews and to certain tasks of the detectives. Chapter 5 indicates that the detectives use the technique of repeating a part or the whole of the received answer only when speaking with suspects and in order to express doubts about their answers. At the same time, chapter 6 shows that only those interlocutors, who in the course of interrogation realise they are being treated as suspects use rhetorical questions as a defensive technique specific of this interactional identity. This study generally supports the thesis that questioning is never done without a specific action in mind and that a range of possible activities can be performed through the question-answer pairs in interrogation. \ud \u

Publisher: Communication Studies
Year: 2010
OAI identifier:

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