Q. I said to my friend “What up dog?” But he didn’t answer me. I said “Dog, what up?” and he said “No comment.” I said “What the firetruck, Dog…” He said “You asked me a rhetorical question and legally I’m not required to answer those.” He gave me his lawyer’s card.
A. Ah, your friend Dog was referring to the grammatical construct known as a rhetorical question.
Q. Say who? Look, the Dog I know, he wouldn’t know grammar from a hammer. No wait, make that a ball-peen hammer. Give him credit, he knows a regular hammer when it hits him.
A. Actually, your friend is wrong about not being required to answer a rhetorical question. It’s the reverse. The person who asks the question doesn’t expect an answer.
Q. Is the question “What is a rhetorical question?” a rhetorical question?
A. When you ask a rhetorical question, a listener simply ponders the obvious truth of what you said. Your question about a rhetorical question makes a listener ponder calling for rhetorical security–usually moonlighting diphthongs.
Q. What if I’m giving a speech to a bunch of stock brokers and I ask ‘How many debentures can fit on the head of a pin?’ But nobody says anything. Is that a rhetorical question?
A. Nobody knows how many debentures can fit on the head of a pin. Now, if you ask how many debentures can fit in a breadbox, you’ll hear people shouting “Twenty seven-and-a-half, duhhhh!” By the way are you a stockbroker?
Q. Do I look like a stock broker?
A. You know, that’s almost a rhetorical question. And normally, it would expect no answer. But, because it’s you and I see armed diphthongs heading this way, I will say no, you don’t look like a stock broker.
Q. But why ask a question and not expect an answer?
A. To make a larger point. It’s like the questions in the song “Where have all the flowers gone?”
Q. Wait. In my former career as a lawn mowing dude, someone once asked me that question. I wish I’d known it was a rhetorical question.
A. Why? What was your answer?
Q. I said I put them in one of the black lawn-trim bags with the dandelions.
A. You cut down someone’s flowers?
Q. Um. Sort of. I thought they were man-eating plants. That was probably just the Purple Dotter kicking in. I mean, it was fast. Got ’em with the whipper snipper. They sure didn’t suffer. Can’t say the same for me. Blue Dots? Sure. Purple? Never again. Unless that’s all they got. If you’re smelling me.
A. Gosh look at the time. I have to get to a lunch appointment in Samarra.
Q. Love to join you but I’m having a colonoscopy later and I’m fasting. Can I take a rain check?
A. Doesn’t look like it’s raining.
Q. Not at the moment but there’s a 70% chance according to my app.
A. Have you ever considered sticking your head up your app?
Q. Wait, I know this one. It’s because my head is three-dimensional and my app is pretty much non-denominational.
A. Have you ever considered having that head examined?
Q. You mean for ticks?
A. No, for your hat size. I’m pretty sure it’s odd.
FYI: Here are the 10 Most Frequently Asked Rhetorical Questions. Study them. There will be a test.
- Does neatness count?
- This is the thanks I get?
- Hey, is that Joe’s arm?
- Why aren’t I rich?
- Hey, is that Joe’s leg?
- Why me?
- Doesn’t that torso look like Joe’s torso?
- Why not me?
- Hey, isn’t that Joe’s head?
- Hey Joe, what up, dog?
©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013-2019, all rights reserved.