There has been a question on rhetorical questions before, but the question and answers don't reflect the situation that I have.
Someone sent me the following email:
If you look on Google maps, Old Road, Wateringbury, there’s a sort of circular road with houses in the middle. Do you reckon they might be Latter’s Buildings?
I should add at this point that this person had previously notified me of another building, but they had got the wrong one, and I had to correct them.
Having looked at the two links I replied that I did think they were Latter's buildings because of the relative positions on the maps.
The person who sent me the question then asked why I had replied because, according to them it was obviously a rhetorical question, and therefore clearly needed no answer.
I have always understood a rhetorical question to be one that needed no answer because it was to be expected that everybody would already know the answer and that answer would be the only possible answer, like the traditional "Is the Pope a Catholic?" or "Does the Queen live in Buckingham Palace?".
Also a rhetorical question would be used for emphasis, and when I put this to the person they said they were using a rhetorical question to emphasise that they were definitely Latter's buildings. In which case why not just say "Look at these, they are Latter's buildings." instead of asking my opinion?
Anyway, the question might have two possible answers because having looked at both sites I might have decided that they weren't Latter's buildings, in which case should I not say I think they aren't Latter's buildings, or should I not reply with that opinion because the questioner thinks it is a rhetorical question that needs no answer?
Clearly I cannot have known the answer to the email question until after looking at the sites, and the person sending the email obviously knew that I wouldn't know the answer which is why they sent the links for me to get an answer from.
Also the question starts "Do you reckon" which to me is a specific request for my opinion on the matter and allows for the fact that I might decide they aren't latter's buildings. Given that in a previous case they had indeed got the wrong building, I took this email as being an obvious request for confirmation that this time they had got the correct one.
I rely on "Farnsworth's Classical English Rhetoric" for all rhetorical matters, and he writes that "Usually a rhetorical question implies its own answer. In other cases the speaker expects that no good answer is possible, or wants to make a statement indirectly by burying the question's premise."
On that basis, in my opinion, the question does not imply its own answer because both "Yes they are." and "No they aren't" are possible and neither is implied as being the "correct" answer, there is definitely a good answer possible, and I can't see that they are making a statement indirectly by burying the question's premise, so it doesn't meet the requirements to be a rhetorical question.
Yet the person who sent the email insists that they are right that it was obviously a rhetorical question, and they know people with English degrees who say they are right.
So is the original email a rhetorical question or not?
My apologies for taking a number of edits to clarify my question. I promise to try harder next time!