Hypothetical questions are a category of conditional questions that manipulate the representation of causal relations and reinforce the persuasiveness of the message. The speaker opts for an assumed truth with the purpose of indirectly obtaining interlocutors’ personal points of views avoiding direct confict-related situations. In this contribution, we focus on the use of hypothetical questions in media interviews in which diplomats and experts within the sector are asked about the pandemic situation. Specifcally, we examine similarities and diferences in the type and function of hypothetical requests posed by western and eastern journalists to answer the following research questions: 1) What is the linguistic design of HQs deployed in media discourse involving diplomats? 2) What discourse-pragmatic functions do HQs serve in those interviews? The comparative study is carried out on the InterDiploCovid 19 corpus (Facchinetti, Cavalieri & Corrizzato 2021), a collection of media interviews in which interviewees are interviewed in English on the spread and the socio-economic consequences of Covid19. We adopt a corpus-assisted discourse analysis focusing on a selection of markers and structures (but/and/what if; assuming (that); let’s assume; had + inversion) often associated with hypothetical questions and investigating the diferent functions as to their context of use. As data demonstrate, journalists tend to ask HQs to formulate conjectures and create scenarios functional to the line of questioning of the interviewer. Both western and * The article has been jointly planned by the two authors: Sara Corrizzato has dealt with sections 1, 3 (3.1), while Silvia Cavalieri with sections 2, 3 (3.2), 4. Silvia Cavalieri and Sara Corrizzato 132 eastern journalists seem to prefer ‘confrm’ HQs making a more extensive recourse to leading questioning strategies.
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