German warum (why) and wieso (why) and English why
This paper contributes to a critical discussion of how ‘question' and ‘questioning' may be defined in terms of form and function by analyzing the interactional usage of two apparently synonymous ‘question' words, German warum (why) and wieso (why) and their common English translation why. Warum and why are employed for two different interactional achievements. Wieso marks the utterance as an information request. In this respect, it is affiliative. In contrast, warum points to something wrong and is thus complaint implicative. Recipients orient to warum as disaffiliative. A contrastive analysis of German warum and wieso with English why (Schegloff 1984, Clayman and Heritage 2002a, Koshik 2003) shows that why allows for ambiguity, whereas warum and wieso are unambiguous. While there is a core usage of these lexical items, they are also employed differently with an orientation to institutionality. In business meetings, there is a correlation between the occurrence of the complaint-implicative warum and the leadership status of the speaker in the team.
Discourse Studies, 2008, Vol 10, Issue 1, p. 17-36
conversation analysis; interrogatives; questioning; complaints; institutional interaction; business meetings; hierarchy; affiliation; cross-linguistic comparison; German