In the past few years I’ve noticed people answering questions they just asked themselves.
Instead of saying, “I think the Dallas Cowboys will reach the playoffs but not make it to the Super Bowl”, they might say, “Do I think the Cowboys will make the playoffs? Sure. But do I think they will make it to the Super Bowl? No way.”
I hear this every day, especially from the talking heads on television. It seems strange to hear someone carry on a one-person dialog in the middle of a conversation.
Is this a recent style of speaking or am I just focusing on a new pet peeve? And is is there a name for this?
It is as old as anything, and the contexts are as often serious as not, often a public person explaining a viewpoint to a crowd. Wiki points to way back:
The rhetorical effectiveness lies in allowing the speaker to answer questions the listener may have. For instance, in Paul‘s Epistle to the Romans, Paul is explaining Jesus and he says “Is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also” (Romans 3.29). In this manner, Paul confirms to the reader that God is god of both the Jews and Gentiles.
Did Glenn, in his post, do a perfect take on Bob Odenkirk’s character of God from the mid-90’s HBO program Mr. Show? No doubt about it. Was Odenkirk, in turn, doing a take on Hollywood producer Robert Evans voicing the audiobook version of his autobiography The Kid Stays In the Picture? You’d be a fool to deny it. Is there a film version of the book narrated by Evans himself? How could there not be?
Here’s a bit of Odenkirk from a non-Mr. Show appearance (SFO/clean):
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