This paper discusses the communicative function of declarative sentences used as polar questions in French and Norwegian:
(1a) - Inger Holter jobbet i en bar?
(1b) - Inger Holter bossait dans un bar ?
These two sentences are similar concerning the subject-verb order, the ascending intonation curve, and the choice of lexical morphemes. In both languages, they are declarative sentences used to ask questions. More precisely, we are dealing with polar questions marked by intonation only.
The way sentences such as (1a) and (1b) are used in actual texts shows that they do not have the same communicative function. The Norwegian speaker expects his assumption to be confirmed by the listener, maybe with a hope of getting more information. The French example, on the other hand, admits two different interpretations, and it is the context of the utterance that decides. It can be a request for information, in which the speaker has no preconceived idea of what the answer will be. Alternatively, the interpretation can be the same as in Norwegian if a modal particle or adverb is added, as in Inger Holter bossait dans un bar, n’est-ce pas?
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