By Adan R. Penilla, Angela Lee Taylor

What you know about rhetorical questions in English is not the same as rhetorical questions in American Sign Language (ASL). In English, a rhetorical question is a question that does not require an answer. In ASL, a rhetorical question is asked and the person who asks the question gives the answer as well. A rhetorical question is a way of making a point by providing the information for the very question you ask.

Keep your eyebrows up when you ask the question — that action tells everyone that you don’t expect an answer. And if you’re on the receiving end of a rhetorical question, you’ll recognize it because the signer will barely pause before answering his own question. His hands won’t go down to give you a chance to put your hands up to respond.

When you ask a rhetorical question, you use who, what, why, where, when, and how to make the sentence rhetorical, but you don’t add a question mark because you aren’t really asking a question. You are setting up the question to answer it yourself.

English: Brent is on my team.

Sign: MY TEAM– WHO — B-R-E-N-T

asl-who-brent

English: The tournament is in Pueblo.

Sign: TOURNAMENT WHERE — P-U-E-B-L-O

asl-where-pueblo