The person or the issue? Relational process, person- and idea- targeted questions in UK and Ghanaian parliamentary questions
Keywords:corpus-assisted, relational process, Ghanaian Minister’s Questions, UK Prime Ministers Questions, person-targeted questions, idea-targeted questions
Using parliamentary questions as data and a corpus-assisted systemic functional approach through Wordsmith Tools, this paper, with specific reference to relational processes, explores yes/no interrogatives in order to establish how MPs encode in their questions issues of attitudes, commitments, personalities and ideas of (Prime) Ministers during Ghanaian Minister’s and UK Prime Minister’s Questions. The paper finds that MPs use yes/no interrogatives with relational processes to describe (Prime) Ministers as carriers of certain attributes relating to their positions and responsibilities, while some of the questions are issue- focused. To achieve this, MPs employ two main questioning strategies: person-targeted and idea-targeted pragmatic strategies, thereby raising issues of (Prime) Ministers’ credibility and commitment to duty. The paper has implications for parliamentary questions, party politics and MPs’ and (Prime) Ministers’ duties as representatives of their constituents.