paradox or rhetorical

J. Longfellow   Fri Sep 08, 2006 7:36 am GMT
Does a paradox need to be a statement, or can it be in question form? Is the following a paradox or rhetorical and why: "What do you say when someone says you're in denial, but you're not?"
Liz   Fri Sep 08, 2006 12:47 pm GMT
A paradox is usually a statement but I think it can be a question, too.
I might not be right, but, I'm afraid this question is neither a paradox nor a rhetorical question. I take it as a simple wh-question, containing two contradictory statements ('you are in denial' and 'you are not (in denial).
In spite of that, it is not a paradox, because there is nothing unrealistic about the above statement: it's possible that someone thinks that you are, say, in a denial but in fact you aren't.

A paradox is usually a statement which implies one thing and just the opposite of it at the same time, for example: 'I can resist everything but temptation.' (It is a famous/infamous statement from one of the plays of Oscar Wilde. If not, pardon my ignorance.) There is obviously something fishy about this statement, namely: all you have to resist is temptation, therefore if you can't resist it, you can't resist anything.

The other thing is the rhetorical question. Such questions are often used in poems, monologues, dramas. However, they aren't only used by poets but public speakers, politicians etc. also use it to draw attention to certain ideas/problems. A rhetorical question is not a real query, it is not to be answered, because the answer is usually obvious. Sorry, but only a German example comes to mind at the moment, but I'll translate it into English: 'Sag mal, verehrtes Publikum: bist du wirklich so dumm?' (i.e. 'Tell me, my dear audience: are you really so stupid?' - not a precise translation, anyway - the quotation is taken from a Kurt Tucholsky poem)
todosmentira   Fri Sep 08, 2006 3:36 pm GMT
Whether it is a paradox or not is entirely subjective; paradox is not restricted to language or categories of discourse.

Whether it is rhetorical or not depends upon the context, which you do not give; for example, in order to qualify a question as rhetorical we must know if it forms part of a dialogue, if it is a soliloquoy, if it is unanswerable by anyone other than the utterer...

Rhetorical question; why do I waste my time on internet forums?

(It is I who must answer this since I am seeking a valid motivation for my own actions)

The fact of my asking this question could be considered paradoxical, but this is not a linguistic phenomena - more a semantic one.