General Question

tincansailorforever's avatar

Why do some people answer a question with a question?

Asked by tincansailorforever (54points) January 29th, 2010

I’m serious. I do it myself. It can’t be genetic as most people I have been acquainted with in my life do the same thing. I have many friends in ‘Academics’ that can’t give me an answer. The only explanation I have, it’s ‘Human Nature’.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

29 Answers

Blackberry's avatar

There are different ways to try to help someone understand something. Sometimes were are allegorical in our answers to make the other person think, or ask themselves questions to help them come to a revelation. Kind of like how Jesus used parables as answers lol. Like when people say “Is it really worth it?”, That makes you think: “Is it?”.

mrentropy's avatar

Is that a problem for you?

I think in many cases it’s because the person doesn’t have a good answer so it’s a way to deflect the question.

raoool's avatar

what do you mean?

Possibly because the initial question is vague or otherwise lacking the detail they feel is required to craft an appropriate response.

john65pennington's avatar

How about this for a general answer: turn about is fair play.

Sounds good to me.

dpworkin's avatar

Because they are Jewish?

ucme's avatar

I would never do that. You?

tinyfaery's avatar

The best questions spark further questions.

Zen_Again's avatar

Jews do not answer a question with a question, right?

jmmf's avatar

it depends really. sometimes its a way to state the most obvious answer that they (or most people) would most probably have. or sometimes they just really want to be a bitch a bout it. what do you think?

Thammuz's avatar

Because it’s better for people to arrive to answers on their own, using the brain they supposedly have, rather than ave a pre-cooked answer shoved in their face?

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I never really noticed that until I made the transition from academia to military life. In the academic milleau, questions seem intended to spawn other questions in a sort of free-ranging manner. In the Army (perhap in “real life” too?) a question is a prompt indicating the desire for a factual answer: data, opinion, etc.

I tend to swing both ways now, depending on my evaluation of the questioner. Some seem to want a discussion while others just want facts.

In this age, one can have facts by simply typing in the correct keywords using a search engine. So answering a question with another question may be helping the person in their search. The person may not actually know enough to narrow down the search. Asking questions about the original question can be helpful to them.

BraveWarrior's avatar

Sometimes it is a way for a person to avoid answering truthfully, trying to be evasive while not lying.
Wife: Did u eat a piece of the cake I baked for the bake sale?
Husband (hoping there isn’t a bit of chocolate on his mouth) Did you ask the kids?

wundayatta's avatar

Typically it’s a sign of passive aggressiveness, I believe. When someone is annoyed by the question they are asked, but they don’t want to come out straight and say, “I can’t believe you’re asking me that,” or “I can’t believe you don’t know that” (read, what an idiot), you ask a sort of Socratic question in return. I.e., the return question is, on it’s surface, designed to educate you by showing you the direction to find the answer.

Sometimes, you might be annoyed with persistent questions from a child, so you send it back on them to shut them up. Sometimes you think the question is really stupid and the answer so obvious that you turn it back on them.

So I think it’s a sort of socially acceptable way of telling someone they are an idiot and that you don’t respect them. You coat it in a question so it seems like you are doing something nice and reasonable.

tinyfaery's avatar

So by that you mean…?

JLeslie's avatar

Sometimes it is because the person is assuming the intention of the asker and wants to turn the question back around on them.

Sometimes it is to get more information or clarification about the original question.

Sometimes it is to find out your opinion before giving their own.

All sorts of reason.

Oh, and some of it is cultural. Like if you are Jewish LOL.

I once read a saying that Jews don’t ask their children if they learned anything new today, but ask, did you ask any good questions today. The act of asking a question means you are listening and participating in the conversation, no matter what the reason. A simple nod yes or a yeah, might get you an answer, but not much thought.

LostInParadise's avatar

A question may be asked for clarification purposes.
What should we do?
What are the options?

A question may be asked regarding motive.
What is the best school for basket weaving?
Why do you want to learn basket weaving?

A question may be asked to get context.
What is the quickest way to Boise?
What are you going to Boise for?

Zen_Again's avatar

I want to party with her ^^.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@JLeslie The Jewish culture has such a wonderful attitude towards learning. Something the rest of us would do well to emulate.

Strauss's avatar

Is it to make the questioner think about the answer? Or is it be cause the answerer doesn’t know the answer?

Gee, I didn’t answer that, did I?~

Self_Consuming_Cannibal's avatar

I don’t know. Why do you think? lol

wundayatta's avatar

Why did 95% of answerers here answer with the same joke?

Self_Consuming_Cannibal's avatar

You know what’s funny? By asking that question, you did the same thing “us 95%” did. Responded with a question. lol

wundayatta's avatar

@Self_Consuming_Cannibal The irony did not escape me. But my first response was quite serious, and actually I was poking fun at others by following the same, relatively predictable response, although to be honest, it was the first thing that came to my mind. However, after seeing that ten people had already done it, I thought it was a little old. And that is what my question is about: why didn’t it get old for everyone else? There are times, you know, when a question is just a question. Thank you Groucho

Self_Consuming_Cannibal's avatar

I usually don’t take time to read others responses unless it’s from a question I’ve asked or unless it specifically says @Self_Consuming_Cannibal I guess that makes me a narcissist huh? lol :)

wundayatta's avatar

@Self_Consuming_Cannibal Hmmm. I must say that I resort to that method, too, when the number of answers reaches 25 or more.

Self_Consuming_Cannibal's avatar

Well you really fed my narcissistic ego with your numerous @Self_Consuming_Cannibal posts. Thanks. lol +5 lurve

wundayatta's avatar

I would do it again, @Self_Consuming_Cannibal, but then the moderators would accuse me of lurve-fixing. Well, someone might question it, wouldn’t they?

Reminds me of a string of questions on a thread at Askville, where we were supposed only answer questions with questions. Some of the attempts to do this were pretty damn lame.

JLeslie's avatar

I just received this in an email from my dad, I thought you would appreciate it:

The New York City Public Schools have officially declared Jewish English, now dubbed Hebronics, as a second language. Backers of the move say the city schools are the first in the nation to recognize Hebronics as a valid language and a significant attribute of American culture.

According to Howard Ashland, linguistics professor at Brooklyn College and renowned Hebronics scholar, the sentence structure of Hebronics derives from middle and eastern European language patterns, as well as Yiddish.

Professor Schulman explains,
‘In Hebronics, the response to any question is usually another question with a complaint that is either implied or stated.

Thus ‘How are you?’ may be answered, ‘How should I be, with my bad feet?’

Schulman says that Hebronics is a superb linguistic vehicle for expressing sarcasm or skepticism. An example is the repetition of a word with ‘sh’ or ‘shm’ at the beginning: ‘Mountains, shmountains. Stay away. You should want a nosebleed?’

Another Hebronics pattern is moving the subject of a sentence to the end, with its pronoun at the beginning: ‘It’s beautiful, that dress.’

Schulman says one also sees the Hebronics verb moved to the end of the sentence. Thus the response to a remark such as ‘He’s slow as a turtle,’ could be: ‘Turtle, shmurtle! Like a fly in Vaseline he walks.’

Schulman provided the following examples from his best-selling textbook, Switched-On Hebronics:

Question: ‘What time is it?’
English answer: ‘Sorry, I don’t know.’
Hebronic response: ‘What am I, a clock?’

Remark: ‘I hope things turn out okay.’
English answer: ‘Thanks.’
Hebronic response: ‘I should be so lucky!’

Remark: ‘Hurry up Dinner’s ready.’
English answer: ‘Be right there.’
Hebronic response: ‘Alright already, I’m coming.
What’s with the ‘hurry’ business? Is there a fire?’

Remark: ‘I like the tie you gave me; I wear it all the time.’
English answer: ‘Glad you like it.’
Hebronic response: ‘So what’s the matter; you don’t like the other ties I gave you?’

Remark: ‘Sarah and I are engaged.’
English answer: ‘Congratulations!’
Hebronic response: ‘She could stand to lose a few pounds.’

Question: ‘Would you like to go riding with us?’
English answer: ‘Just say when.’
Hebronic response: ‘Riding, shmiding! Do I look like a cowboy?’

To the guest of honor at a birthday party:
English answer: ‘Happy birthday.’
Hebronic response: ‘A year smarter you should become.’

Remark: ‘It’s a beautiful day.’
English answer: ‘Sure is.’
Hebronic response: ‘So the sun is out; what else is new?’

Answering a phone call from a son:
English answer: ‘It’s been a while since you called.’
Hebronic response: ‘You didn’t wonder if I’m dead already?’

Email, shmemail! Luck and happiness will or will not come to you regardless if you send it to another eight people!!

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther