New test frameworks were published on the GOV.UK website today, setting out the requirements for National Curriculum tests from 2016 onwards. And they contain a couple of surprises to those of us who consider ourselves to be speakers of the English language.
For it appears that no longer is a question defined as “A sentence worded or expressed so as to elicit information”, as your old-fashioned ‘dictionary’ might imagine, but rather as a specifically-structured sentence that meets the need of writers of tests.
“Nonsense!!” you might exclaim. Except that’s not an exclamation either.
“Not an exclamation?” you might ask. But you’d be wrong to do so, since that is no longer a question.
For it seems that the DfE have deemed that exclamations must begin with the word “How” or “What”. So while your dictionary might think that an exclamation is a sudden remark or cry; while the world at large might include “Hello!”, or “Utter nonsense” in this group, it seems that we are collecting in error.
So rather than teaching children the real meaning of the word, or bothering the good people at Oxford dictionaries with your queries, remember now that exclamations begin with “how” or “what”. No further questions necessary. (And don’t ask what type of sentence that last one was: it doesn’t exist!)
So if you were thinking of teaching any meaningful understand of what a question is, stop yourself right away. That is not your place. Your role is teach the testable definitions. Now, behave!
If you want to put yourself through reading the test frameworks, you can find them after much hunting on the DfE part of the gov.uk website: