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Can You Answer the Question?
Unformatted Document Text:  16 04 R: (mumbles) In the above excerpt, the prosecution asks two quite different questions simultaneously in line 01—one is an interrogative yes-no question and the other is an interrogative Wh-question—that are unrelated. The defendant makes no response to these two questions. Yet, in line 03 the prosecution’s question is again different from the previous two, an attributional Wh-question implying that he already knows the answer to his previous questions as indicated in his use of “they” in his question. Three questions of different forms and of unrelated contents asked in a row create great confusion in the defendant. In the excerpt # 13, the defendant provides an answer to the second question asked by the presiding judge and ignores the first question, demonstrating the unanswerability of two questions asked simultaneously. Excerpt # 13 [BC.CRT.P.2001] 01 Q: When did you start to know (the briber’s full name)? Did you have any 02 contact before this? 03 A: Yes. Sometimes, more than two questions are asked at the same time. As in the following excerpt, the prosecution asks three questions one after another, which brings no response from the defendant. Excerpt # 14 [BC.CRT.P.2001] 01 Q: In order to get this project, did you need some personal connections? a 6 02 You said you sent him money out of gratitude? What were you grateful for? 03 A: (Silence) Confusing questions such as double-barreled questions are very coercive in the sense that they generally result in very short responses or simply silence from defendants. The use of confusing double- barreled questions shows that information inquiry is not the purpose of asking those questions—the prosecution or the presiding judge is not asking for specific information—so it doesn’t matter how confusing the question is. Its goal is to indicate to defendants that the prosecution or the presiding judge 6 A Chinese particle expressing curiosity, anger, or indignation.

Authors: Chang, Yanrong.
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16
04 R: (mumbles)
In the above excerpt, the prosecution asks two quite different questions simultaneously in line
01—one is an interrogative yes-no question and the other is an interrogative Wh-question—that are
unrelated. The defendant makes no response to these two questions. Yet, in line 03 the prosecution’s
question is again different from the previous two, an attributional Wh-question implying that he already
knows the answer to his previous questions as indicated in his use of “they” in his question. Three
questions of different forms and of unrelated contents asked in a row create great confusion in the
defendant.
In the excerpt # 13, the defendant provides an answer to the second question asked by the
presiding judge and ignores the first question, demonstrating the unanswerability of two questions asked
simultaneously.
Excerpt # 13 [BC.CRT.P.2001]
01 Q: When did you start to know (the briber’s full name)? Did you have any
02 contact before this?
03 A: Yes.
Sometimes, more than two questions are asked at the same time. As in the following excerpt, the
prosecution asks three questions one after another, which brings no response from the defendant.
Excerpt # 14 [BC.CRT.P.2001]
01 Q: In order to get this project, did you need some personal connections? a
6
02 You said you sent him money out of gratitude? What were you grateful for?
03 A: (Silence)
Confusing questions such as double-barreled questions are very coercive in the sense that they
generally result in very short responses or simply silence from defendants. The use of confusing double-
barreled questions shows that information inquiry is not the purpose of asking those questions—the
prosecution or the presiding judge is not asking for specific information—so it doesn’t matter how
confusing the question is. Its goal is to indicate to defendants that the prosecution or the presiding judge
6
A Chinese particle expressing curiosity, anger, or indignation.


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