More tea, Vicar?

May 3, 2007 at 8:50 am | Posted in Framing, Question | 3 Comments

1a. “You don’t want a cup of tea, do you?”

1b. “You wouldn’t be wanting a cup of tea, now, would you?”

2. “Would you like a cup of tea?”

3. “Oooh! Let’s have a nice cup of tea, shall we?”

4. “Here’s your tea!”

That’s how I would explain framing a Yes/No question to kids.

1a and 1b are the Welsh and Irish ways to offer a cup of tea. You are told you are not meant to want a cup of tea. In order to get one, you have to disagree with the person who has the power to supply you with what you want. Of course, for etiquette reasons, you don’t 😉

2 is the straightforward way to offer someone a cup of tea. It is just as easy and polite for the responder to say “Yes, please!” or “No, thanks,” or even “No, not just now, thanks.” The latter is a more advanced response, keeping the option open in the hope of another offer (on the table) later …

3 is the enthusiastic pro-tea offer from a friendly lady. (Men don’t say “Oooh!“) You are hard-pressed to reject such a positive suggestion, aren’t you?! Even if you don’t like tea …

4 provides an answer whether you want it or not!

Scientific questions can be expressed in these terms too.  Scientists are not trained to phrase questions that appeal to emotion.  Scientific approaches are designed to understand and describe the world using curiosity, imagination, creativity and reason—not emotion.

“More tea, Vicar?” is a closed question designed for a Yes/No response, as are questions 1a, 1b, 2, and 3 above.  Any simple decision in the real world should be based on facts, you’d think, but the question can still be phrased in an emotional way.  And there are emotional facts too—in the sense that I can state categorically that I feel sad when my guinea pig died.  That is a fact about my feelings about an event.  Someone else may have no feeling because they never met my guinea pig.

Only number 3 is expressed without bias from the question poser.

These are simple ways to frame questions.

A more sophisticated question involves a choice between two drinks. “Tea or coffee, madam?” I shall post that one later today …

Women are like teabags. We don’t know our true strength until we are in hot water!

Eleanor Roosevelt



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  1. “Go on,
    have a cuppa tea,
    go on, go on, go on”
    – I thought was the Irish way.

  2. Ho-ho! That’s the way Father Ted is urged to have another. “Aw go on …” is how Irish friends encourage participation.

    Above, I was tailoring sentences for my kids and their Irish friends, who know all about the differences between growing up in California and visiting grandparents in Europe. We have to translate sentences such as:

    “Would you be after having a cup of tea, now?”

    There’s more on tailoring messages here.

  3. 😀

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