Maren Ebert-Rohleder

Email: maren.ebert-rohlederspam prevention@uni-tuebingen.de


Biographical Information

  • since February 2019: Research Assistant and PhD Student at the Research Training Group 1808: Ambiguity – Production and Perception, Tübingen University
  • 10/2018: First State Examination in History
  • Fellowship: Friedrich-Ebert-Scholarship (2015–2019)
  • 4/2018: First State Examination in English
  • 2014-2015: Foreign Language Assitant, Lichfield UK
  • 2012–2019: Studies in English and History at Tuebingen University
  • Student research assistant (2012–2019) Tuebingen University


Research Interests

  • Rhetorical questions
  • Questions
  • Pragmatics


Abstract: Questions and Communicative Functions in Political Speech (working title)

Questioning in political speeches, especially the form-function ambiguity of questions is hardly investigated. While the syntactical appearance of a question stays the same, the function changes concerning with context. For example, in everyday communication, intuitively the sentence “Do we make the deals?” is a genuine question and the speaker distinctly expects an answer since s/he wants to know if deals will be negotiated. However, if the context changes, a new interpretation may occur. Donald Trump asked the same question in a political rally during the presidential election campaign in August 2016 (Remarks at the KI Convention Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin). Syntactically the example remains a yes/no-question; subsequently, there are two possible answers, “yes” or “no”. Whereas in everyday language the meaning is clear, and the speaker expects an answer, one can assume that due to the political speech context the question is meant to be rhetorical. Further, in contrast to the general assumption that RQs do not elicit an answer, in the example, Trump offers an answer “no” (Han (1998), Sadock (1971), van Rooy (2003)). The form-function ambiguity raises the question of whether genuine questions are yet possible in political speeches. If so, are there any markers to solve the form-function ambiguity? Yet as I will show that, their context-dependence calls for a pragmatic explanation (Ilie 1994). Besides an empirical investigation of English politicians, I investigate the appearance of questions in German political speeches to show similarities and differences.
Select Bibliography
Han, Chung-hye (1998). The Structure and Interpretation of Imperatives: Mood and Force in     Universal Grammar. Ph.D. Diss., University of Pennsylvania.
Ilie, Cornelia (1994). What else can I tell you? A Pragmatic Study of English Rhetorical Questions as Discursive and Argumentative Acts. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell.
Sadock, Jerrold (1971) “Queclaratives.” CLS 7, 223-231.
Van Rooy, Robert (2003) “Negative Polarity Items in Questions: Strength as Relevance.” Journal of Semantics 20 (3), 239-273.
Trump, Donald. “Remarks at the KI Convention Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin”. The American Presidency Project

www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/remarks-the-ki-convention-center-green-bay-wisconsin, Accessed 1st April 2019.



  • “Questions and Communicative Functions in Political Speech”. 01.02.2021, Text, Universität Konstanz.


Workshops (Organisation)

  • “Information Structure and Ambiguity: The Process of Integrating Sentences into Discourse”. Internationaler Workshop. 7.-8.10.2019, Universität Tübingen.



  • Reppert, Thorsten; Maren Rohleder; Joshua Seger, Anna Steinmeier (2019) "Abgesicherte Freiheit in einer digitalen Arbeitswelt" In: Neue Gesellschaft Frankfurter Hefte 11/2019.