are you gonna leave?

Following up just briefly on the gonna stuff from the end of the previous post, I noticed the following contrast last night.

Context: it’s getting late and you’re ready to leave the party, so you tell your friend:
(1) I’m leaving.
(2) I’m gonna leave.

Context: your friend sees you putting your coat on, so she asks:
(3) Are you leaving?
(4) #Are you gonna leave?

Sentences (1) and (2) are both perfectly acceptable when leaving a party, although I’d say (1) a bit more abrupt, or slightly less polite (in some cases) than (2).

In the case of questioning someone, however, at least in this context, the gonna (or going to) version in (4) sounds odd to me. I hear a lot of non-natives use it, especially here in Montreal.

It’s certainly acceptable in other contexts, though, e.g. when uttered with a tone of impatience, because you want the person to leave a.s.a.p.

Context: at a bar, a crude man with whiskey breath, unkempt hair, and an offensively ugly Hawaiian t-shirt ignores the systematic rejections of the girl he’s trying to pick up, so finally she asks:
(5) Are you gonna leave, or what?

Or maybe francophone Montrealers are just impatient with me.

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2 Responses to are you gonna leave?

  1. Alanah says:

    In my anglophone opinion, I’m going to have to disagree with you on the weirdness of (4) in the context that you gave. I think it would be totally fine to ask this question with an intonation associated with surprise, so in this context, surprise that you are leaving the party so soon or something along those lines. So your friend sees you putting on your jacket and is astonished (and perhaps a bit disappointed) that you may be leaving and asks: “Are you gonna leave?” (which could be paraphrased as something like: “Aw, are you gonna leave already?”). Basically, the intonation contour in this case is one where where the final rising pitch is a lot higher than that of a normal yes/no question. I’m curious what intonation pattern the francophones were using when they asked you this, but it definitely seems acceptable to me as long as the question is associated with the “surprise intonation”.

  2. brian says:

    I’m sure you’re right. I gave one example of a context where “Are you gonna leave?” is acceptable, and there are no doubt many more. I was just focusing more on the oddity of (4) uttered with normal intonation, in a neutral context.

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