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I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask this, but here is far better than my usual territory StackOverflow.

Sometimes to start a conversation or to bring up a subject I ask a question. I ask the question in hopes that they know the answer, I'm not seeking knowledge or an explanation, but instead I'm looking to create a context for the conversation.

An example question might be something as simple as "remember yesterday when we talked about [something we talked about yesterday]?" Obviously I don't expect them to just say "yes, I remember" and that's that. I'm bringing that conversation into mind as the context for this conversation. I imagine it's a question and not a command or a statement because 1) they may not actually remember the the conversation from yesterday and 2) courtesy.

Is there a name or phrase for this kind of question?

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You might call it a prompt. –  Robusto Mar 28 '13 at 16:07
    
It's a rhetorical question (according to the more general definition The rhetorical question is usually defined as any question asked for a purpose other than to obtain the information the question asks. at rhetoric.byu.edu/figures/r/rhetorical%20questions.htm , but not the narrower definition at say Wikipedia). It's also a pragmatic marker, subclass 'relationships between speaker and hearer', intersecting subclass 'framing subject matter of utterances and relationships among (parts of) utterances' (though Jim's answer works too). –  Edwin Ashworth Mar 28 '13 at 17:16
    
@EdwinAshworth, roughly that sounds about right. I had expected a more specific term to exist, like those in the Related Figures where the rhetorical questions had purposes. Maybe it's a lexical gap, I don't know for sure that a specific word/phrase for this exists. –  Corey Ogburn Mar 28 '13 at 19:06
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1 Answer

You can call it a

lead in : something that leads in or introduces; an introduction to a subject

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