My Mom does something that irks me. Either when she calls me, or sends me an e-mail, she says or writes "Question." Then asks whatever question it is. I find this rude. In my opinion starting the question this way becomes a demand, versus a question. Typically when I ask a question I either just ask it, or say "May or Can I ask you a question?" It depends on who I'm talking to and what we're talking about. In Italian that is the proper way to ask a question, but I don't think it's proper etiquette to ask that way in English.
- Anybody can ask a question
- Anybody can answer
- The best answers are voted up and rise to the top
Arguably it is slightly rude, but I think you're wrong to take umbrage at your Mom using it towards you.
I use the form myself sometimes in emails to busy people who I've discovered don't always have time to read everything I say and respond to all requests for feedback. I certainly don't think they would normally be offended - if anything, they're likely to be grateful that I've made it easier for them to spot the bits that need actual replies.
On the matter of using this form to convert a simple question into a peremptory demand, I think that writing/saying "Question." before the actual question is really just a way of calling your attention to that question.
Perhaps your Mom has noticed that you don't always answer her questions, so she's trying to give you a gentle reminder that you shouldn't do this.
I don't want to be rude myself, but I think perhaps you should reflect on why your Mom feels the need to do this, rather than trying to criticise her manners and seeking endorsement here.
I don't think it is impolite or demanding, on the contrary, I think it connotes a sense of hesitancy on the part of the questioner. It would be improper in written or formal English but in spoken English the sentence "Question: would you mind if I tagged along with you to the movies?" carries the sense "I hope you don't mind me asking, but would you mind if I tagged along with you to the movies." That is the meaning it would convey to me anyway.
FWIW, I have only ever hear this particular idiom in the United States, never in the UK, but that is just my personal observation, and others might well have a quite different experience.
Saying question before to ask a question is an informal way to catch the attention of the other person, and then ask the question. I would find it more rude if the question were directly asked.
Saying "May I ask you a question?" or "Can I ask you a question?" is perfectly fine to say.
The NOAD has a note about using may or can.
It's informal, certainly, but I don't think it impolite. It's simply a flag to the listener that the statement to follow is intended as a question to which the speaker expects a response. This would be true regardless of the structure of the statement or its inflection when spoken.
In informal speech, a lot must be inferred. The statement "You are going to the game", when spoken, could be a question or a statement of fact. Because there are no grammatical hints (there is no "question word" in the statement, nor are the verb and subject inverted), the listener must rely on subtle intonation and on context for hints as to the statement's purpose. However, in many dialects these intionation hints may also be absent, or indistinguishable; the end-of-sentence rise in pitch has become commonplace in many dialects (thank you, "valley girls"), while sometimes this same lilt is absent from actual questions. The statement "Question:" preceeding a question removes ambiguity about the speaker's intentions; the following statement is intended as a question, regardless of grammar structure, inflection or other hints.