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Old 22nd March 2022, 11:42 PM   #81
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
German has it easier with the word "doch".
English once had two separate pairs of "yes/no"-type words, one for positive questions and one for negative questions. The other pair was "yay/nay", which has fallen out of use in that form as question-answering words except for when legislatures record their official votes, because legislatures love to (sometimes) pretend it's still a few hundred years ago (or try to and get it wrong). In speech that isn't quoting a law book, they've evolved into the modern "yah" and "nah" but they don't mean something distinct from "yes/no" anymore. ("Yay" also still sort-of exists as an exclamation.)

Originally Posted by bruto View Post
It also, coincidentally, is about the growing shortage of bananas owing to the periodic blights that cause the massive dieoff of cloned fruits, which ultimately led to a change in the breed of bananas we now get.
...which is also now threatened by a relative of the same blight that eliminated the previous kind of banana (although it's been that way for years and we've managed to keep putting off the bananageddon so far).

Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
By the way, my answer was that it might be ambiguous
So whether or not it it's ambiguous is ambiguous!

Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
Is there an objectively correct interpretation or is it actually ambiguous?
It's not inherently ambiguous, but there's a particular type of logical error which is so common that the error is so likely to occur that it's as if it were ambiguous anyway. Misinterpreting/misunderstanding/mis-hearing by not noticing a negative is so common that there's a standard bit of public-relations & public-speaking advice to avoid negatives even in statements, not just in questions. Otherwise, when you do include a negative and everybody in your audience hears it clearly, some measurable & significant portion of them will still think they heard the same statement minus the negative anyway. Negatives are the most likely words (and prefixes) to disappear from people's minds even when they catch all the rest of the same sentence. And I think to some extent we all know that, even if only informally, which in turn causes us to wonder if it's happened even in cases where it didn't.

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Well, it helps if remember that the language at every step in history is whatever funky phrasings were meme-worthy in the past. People started repeating the funny/cute/whatever phrasing, until it became the new normal. So, yes, it's no real surprise...


Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
I'm even seeing it in real time, live unplugged in Germany at the moment...

...basically when in Idiocracy the narrator says, "But the English language had deteriorated into a hybrid of hillbilly, valley girl, inner city slang, and various grunts." Yeah, no...
That apparent self-contradiction at the end is a change I've been noticing in English lately. I never heard it at all before about a decade ago, and now it's ubiquitous.

I understand that people who say it are essentially thinking of the two words as addressing two different subjects ("yes, I heard & understood & acknowledge* what was just said, but no, I don't agree with it"), but the juxtaposition (with nothing else between them to indicate the change in subject) is so jarring that I really don't get how anybody could have ever gotten started doing it, or why nobody else ever mentions how bizarre the juxtaposition sounds.

Another jarring thing I've been hearing over about the last decade, about which I don't get how anybody ever got started on it or why nobody else ever seems to point out how bizarre it is: person 1 explains what (s)he thinks about something and then person 2 uses "no" for agreement when person 2 is about to add more reasons for the same conclusion. I suppose it must have originated as a negative response to something else which person 2 thinks person 1 might be thinking but hasn't said yet, such as that person 1 is awaiting/expecting a disagreement, or that person 1 thinks the reasons (s)he gave are all there are... so the agreeing "no" is essentially "no, I don't disagree" or "no, those aren't the only reasons to think that"... but the bottom line is that, if person 1 didn't say such a thing, and person 2 doesn't elaborate on it, it still ends up just being a "no" in agreement. (I'm not sure I've ever encountered this one from anybody who isn't Californian.)

* "Heard, understood, & acknowledged/affirmed" also gives us "HUA", which is used in the American army both as an answer and as a question to which "HUA" is the expected answer. If you've heard it in movies, you might have mistaken it for a non-yelled version of a generic yell of "Hooo-aaah!". Or maybe that was where it started and then somebody retrofitted "HUA" later.

Originally Posted by Emily's Cat View Post
Some prefer to know cucumbers
So... are you not saying scale doesn't matter?

Last edited by Delvo; 22nd March 2022 at 11:45 PM.
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Old 31st March 2022, 07:22 AM   #82
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
A lot of the yes/no ambiguity can be avoided by phrasing a question in the positive sense: "Is there an exclusive relationship"?

It's when you use a negated statement that your answer risks the dreaded double negative.
Yeah, this. My impression is that questions were more commonly phrased as negatives in, say, the Victorian era and earlier. Hence I don't think there would have been as much confusion then -- since it was common practice -- as there is today.
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Old 31st March 2022, 07:42 AM   #83
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On the origins of "yeah, no."

Originally Posted by Delvo View Post
I understand that people who say it are essentially thinking of the two words as addressing two different subjects ("yes, I heard & understood & acknowledge* what was just said, but no, I don't agree with it"), but the juxtaposition (with nothing else between them to indicate the change in subject) is so jarring that I really don't get how anybody could have ever gotten started doing it, or why nobody else ever mentions how bizarre the juxtaposition sounds.
I wonder if it came about because it's somewhat jarring. Similar to sarcasm, which at face value makes no semantic sense. "Wait, you're saying the opposite of what you mean, and I'm supposed to read your real meaning from your tone of voice? And it's supposed to work in writing, too? Boop to that!"

Or irony. "So you're saying there's a second, contradictory or conflicting meaning to what you're saying, and I'm just supposed to pick up on it? And maybe there's a tone of voice cue, but maybe not, and if there is I shouldn't confuse it with sarcasm? Boop to that!"

Sometimes people make up more complicated or counter-intuitive ways to say something for emphasis or humor or just for fun. I am fond of saying, "the world is a vampire". Which is pretty true, as metaphors go. Inescapable entropy and all that. But sometimes, as a change of pace, I will say, "the world is exhibiting certain blood-sucking tendencies today." Same thing, basically, but takes an extra moment or two to unpack. Always gets a laugh out of Ms theprestige, though.

I think it's the taking-an-extra-moment-to-unpack is what gives "yeah, no" its appeal.
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Old 26th April 2022, 01:06 PM   #84
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Since living in Japan for about 1.5 years some time ago, I've taken to using "hai" instead of "yes", because I find it's Japanese meaning more precise then English "yes".

My wife sometime tries to dissuade my from said usage of the word, on the reasoning that most American's aren't familiar with it. I think the more it gets used here, the more people will get familiar with it. So I keep using it.

I should try and work "chigau" for common English "no" more into my speech. (Chigau meaning 'incorrect/wrong', at least as was explained to me by a Japanese person). At least for such occasions when I believe the question to be incorrect/wrong. I figure for "is it raining outside?", 'no' should be good enough.
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Old 26th April 2022, 01:23 PM   #85
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Originally Posted by bignickel View Post
Since living in Japan for about 1.5 years some time ago, I've taken to using "hai" instead of "yes", because I find it's Japanese meaning more precise then English "yes".

My wife sometime tries to dissuade my from said usage of the word, on the reasoning that most American's aren't familiar with it. I think the more it gets used here, the more people will get familiar with it. So I keep using it.
Won't do us Americans much good if we don't get the more precise connotations you value it for.

For which you value it.

Quote:
I should try and work "chigau" for common English "no" more into my speech. (Chigau meaning 'incorrect/wrong', at least as was explained to me by a Japanese person). At least for such occasions when I believe the question to be incorrect/wrong. I figure for "is it raining outside?", 'no' should be good enough.
I mean...

Okay, look: If someone asks a binary question of fact, you're not going to reply with "incorrect".[indent]"Is it raining outside?"

"Incorrect."[/quote]

See? It doesn't make sense and just sounds rude.

On the other hand, if someone makes an (incorrect) statement of fact, then "incorrect" is semantically appropriate (but dubious in terms of etiquette).
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Old 27th April 2022, 08:05 AM   #86
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post

Okay, look: If someone asks a binary question of fact, you're not going to reply with "incorrect".[indent]"Is it raining outside?"

"Incorrect."

See? It doesn't make sense and just sounds rude.
From my post:
Quote:
At least for such occasions when I believe the question to be incorrect/wrong. I figure for "is it raining outside?", 'no' should be good enough.
As I say I'd like to bring 'chigau' in, I don't that will practically happen. I've tried a few time to bring "23 skidoo!" back, but I keep forgetting to use it. Maybe I should go with "F.A.B.!"
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Old 27th April 2022, 08:27 PM   #87
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Originally Posted by bignickel View Post
Maybe I should go with "F.A.B.!"
Good choice, though personally I prefer "Spectrum is green!"
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Old 2nd May 2022, 09:14 PM   #88
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Originally Posted by bignickel View Post
Since living in Japan for about 1.5 years some time ago, I've taken to using "hai" instead of "yes", because I find it's Japanese meaning more precise then English "yes".
I've been living in Japan for over 20 years now, and I'm struggling to think of what the difference is between "hai" and "yes". Is there a difference?
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Old 3rd May 2022, 04:04 AM   #89
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Originally Posted by JayUtah View Post
Yeah, this. My impression is that questions were more commonly phrased as negatives in, say, the Victorian era and earlier. Hence I don't think there would have been as much confusion then -- since it was common practice -- as there is today.
Never thought about this. Is it a British v American difference? I'm even now wondering if it is a dialect difference within Britain, growing up it was and back home it still is very common, but thinking about it not as a common around where I live at the moment. Interesting.

Little snippet of a foreigner struggling with negative questions

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Old 3rd May 2022, 04:50 AM   #90
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I do feel like the rule changes depending on whether it's a casual conversation and if it's written down though. Like a flow chart.
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Old 8th May 2022, 12:12 PM   #91
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Little snippet of a foreigner struggling with negative questions

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"'Aren't you going out tonight?' is the same as 'Are you going out tonight?'"
That's also how we respond in Danish: 'Yes, I am,' if I am going out. 'No, I'm not,' if I'm not going out.
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