There's no such thing as a rhetorical question!



I hate rhetorical questions. Like a hole in the path they're just waiting for you to go wrong and put your foot in it.

We're meant to know when someone is asking a rhetorical question. We're meant to understand that people ask questions which don't always need an answer. But why ask a question if you don't want an answer?

Rhetorical questions all hinge on the listener realising no answer is necessary. To understand that you need an amount of common knowledge and the ability to stop yourself opening your mouth and answering the question before the rest of your brain catches up.

Like most aspies, I love answering questions - knowing the answers to things is the part of a conversation I can do. So it's second nature to wait for the chance to take part. If someone says something obvious, how am I meant to know, in that split-second of reaction, that they aren't really asking a question? How am I meant to realise in time that they don't need my help?

I'm used to being the person who asks obvious questions - obvious to everyone but me - so when someone else does the same, I don't mind answering. But when it turns out they didn't expect an answer you're back to seeing the face change, the pause as they process you jumped in where you weren't wanted and the shift as they try to claw back the conversation to the direction they wanted it to go.

Anyway, why is any question deemed rhetorical? In this world of almost infinite possibilities, there is every chance that the obvious thing you are asking about might not happen or might have a different answer. And even if the answer is wholly obvious, I'm still going to answer it, if only because my brain spotted the question mark before my social graces detected the self-satisfied-smirk of the rhetorical question.

Is the sky blue? I'm going to answer yes, with the proviso that it is blue to us, but perhaps not blue to the whole world and not blue from every direction because the sky is a complex amalgam of stuff what stops the universe falling in on us.

Is the Pope a Catholic? Well...I'm assuming so, seeing as it is one of the job requirements but as I've had many jobs where I stretched my qualifications and just thought I could wing it, I won't absolutely state my reputation on all popes being Catholic because you never know what might happen on the spur of the moment.

And if you ask me, Am I right? not expecting an answer, then you have only yourself to blame. I will give your question serious thought and then explain my opinion in as much detail as I can before you unexpectedly have to leave.

So, as they say, be careful what you ask for. You may think you are asking a non-question that doesn't need an answer, but there is always someone somewhere who can prove you wrong.

Amanda




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