IS Forum
Forum Index Register Members List Events Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read Help

Go Back   International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » Education
 


Welcome to the International Skeptics Forum, where we discuss skepticism, critical thinking, the paranormal and science in a friendly but lively way. You are currently viewing the forum as a guest, which means you are missing out on discussing matters that are of interest to you. Please consider registering so you can gain full use of the forum features and interact with other Members. Registration is simple, fast and free! Click here to register today.
Reply
Old 11th March 2022, 03:32 AM   #41
Cheetah
Master Poster
 
Cheetah's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: South Africa
Posts: 2,932
Have you had Covid?
Yes.
No.
I don’t know.
Maybe?
__________________
"... when you dig my grave, could you make it shallow so that I can feel the rain" - DMB
Cheetah is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th March 2022, 07:33 AM   #42
HansMustermann
Penultimate Amazing
 
HansMustermann's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 21,336
Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
The point is that the listener may not interpret a simple "yes" or "no" answer the way that you do if the question is phrased negatively. That is why you have to give a longer answer to reduce the risk of misinterpretation.

OTOH if you are the one asking the question then try to phrase it positively. You are likely to get a simple "yes" or "no" in response.

And if somebody asks you "do I turn left here?" never say "right".
While I'm not a native English speaker, it's always been my impression that most people are perfectly able to understand a "no" answer to "Don't you have a pen?" to mean "no, I don't". The usual patterns of a negative question are pretty much a reflex to ask or answer for anyone who's used English for enough time. Or at least that's my impression of it.

It's only when you use a non-standard phrasing of the negative question like in the OP that people start having to think about it.
__________________
Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?
HansMustermann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th March 2022, 09:53 AM   #43
psionl0
Skeptical about skeptics
 
psionl0's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: 31°57'S 115°57'E
Posts: 19,637
Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
it's always been my impression that most people are perfectly able to understand a "no" answer to "Don't you have a pen?" to mean "no, I don't".
That's my point. If there is a way to misunderstand something then somebody will find it.

The example you give is phrased in a slightly disagreeable tone and would probably elicit the fuller answer. "Have you got a pen?" is a much more polite way to ask for a pen (and there is no confusion about a "yes" or "no" answer).
__________________
"The process by which banks create money is so simple that the mind is repelled. Where something so important is involved, a deeper mystery seems only decent." - Galbraith, 1975
psionl0 is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th March 2022, 10:58 AM   #44
Emily's Cat
Rarely prone to hissy-fits
 
Emily's Cat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: The Wettest Desert on Earth
Posts: 18,404
Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
I'll point out that asking questions in the negative form is actually very usual, just usually not in the form in the OP. It's just usually phrased something like "Don't you have a pen?" or "Isn't there a book on the topic?" rather than "Is there no book?"

In both cases, in English "yes" or "no" actually have nothing to do with how the question is phrased. If I'm about to take a test and I'm asked either "Do you have a pen?" or "Don't you have a pen?", I will answer "yes, I do" or "no, I don't" regardless of whether it's asked in the positive or the negative. It has nothing to do with triggering the double negative or not. It's about whether my longer answer would a positive statement ("I do" => "yes, I don" vs "I don't" => "no, I don't".)

Unlike in Japanese, where, as I was saying, it's about the truth of the statement in the question. In Japanese "no, I do" or "yes, I don't" is actually the correct way to answer "Don't you have a pen?"
I'm not sure your comparison works out though.

If someone asks "Don't you have a pen", the answer "No" is clearly understood to be "No I do not have a pen".

But if someone asks "Do you not have a pen?", then an answer of "No" could mean either "No I do not have a pen", or it could mean "Your statement is false and I do have a pen".

It's an ambiguity in the implied meaning for English. It's not an ambiguity in other languages.
__________________
The distance between the linguistic dehumanization of a people and their actual suppression and extermination is not great; it is but a small step. - Haig Bosmajian
Emily's Cat is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th March 2022, 11:09 AM   #45
theprestige
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: The Antimemetics Division
Posts: 62,416
Originally Posted by Emily's Cat View Post
I'm not sure your comparison works out though.

If someone asks "Don't you have a pen", the answer "No" is clearly understood to be "No I do not have a pen".

But if someone asks "Do you not have a pen?", then an answer of "No" could mean either "No I do not have a pen", or it could mean "Your statement is false and I do have a pen".

It's an ambiguity in the implied meaning for English. It's not an ambiguity in other languages.
I'd say it's an ambiguity in the explicit meaning for English. The implicit meaning is not really ambiguous.

"Do you not have a pen?"

"Nope!"

Of course, "yep!" gets entangled in the explicit ambiguity, so if you did have a pen you'd say something like, "actually I do have a pen."

But constructing a question this way in English implies an assumption that the person doesn't have a pen. It's a loaded question. You expected the person to have a pen, you're surprised that they don't, and you're calling them out on it. "Do you [seriously] not have a pen?" It's rhetorical, which eliminates a lot of the implied ambiguity. You're either going to confirm what they've already assumed - "nope!" - or you're going to correct their assumption.

Natural languages aren't systems of formal logic. Sometimes the best explanation to give a newcomer is, "this is the longstanding convention, just practice it until you get used to it, and don't worry too much about trying to make logical sense of it."
__________________
There is no Antimemetics Division.

Last edited by theprestige; 11th March 2022 at 11:11 AM.
theprestige is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th March 2022, 11:10 AM   #46
Emily's Cat
Rarely prone to hissy-fits
 
Emily's Cat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: The Wettest Desert on Earth
Posts: 18,404
Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
What's confusing about it? There's two obvious ways to interpret it, but they both lead to the same answers: Either you know if you've had Covid, or you don't know if you've had Covid.
Are you sure?

Yes (I know whether I've had covid or not)
No (I don't know whether I've had covid or not)

Yes (I know that I've had covid)
No (I know that I haven't had covid)


Yes (I know that I haven't had covid)
No (I don't know that I've had covid)
__________________
The distance between the linguistic dehumanization of a people and their actual suppression and extermination is not great; it is but a small step. - Haig Bosmajian
Emily's Cat is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th March 2022, 11:13 AM   #47
Emily's Cat
Rarely prone to hissy-fits
 
Emily's Cat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: The Wettest Desert on Earth
Posts: 18,404
Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
The intent of the question is to determine how much you know about your covid status. But okay I guess it is a little ambiguous, if you and gord both couldn't figure it out.

How would you go about asking someone if they know whether or not they've had covid, as a survey question?
Q: Have you had Covid?

A1: Yes
A2: No
A3: I don't know
__________________
The distance between the linguistic dehumanization of a people and their actual suppression and extermination is not great; it is but a small step. - Haig Bosmajian
Emily's Cat is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th March 2022, 11:14 AM   #48
Emily's Cat
Rarely prone to hissy-fits
 
Emily's Cat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: The Wettest Desert on Earth
Posts: 18,404
Originally Posted by Norman Alexander View Post
Yes, English is weird. This is just a confusing convention that English speakers use, and it is also the basis of many smart-aleck jokes and sarcastic responses.

In response to the question "Do you have no bananas?", the usual answer in English is "No, we have no bananas" is perhaps a shortened version of "I agree, and I am going to repeat the question as a statement and say - there are no bananas".

It is interesting that Japanese and other languages have a problem with this. Because as I understand it, in Japanese, a question is just a statement with a question mark added at the end. E.g. "There are no bananas." becomes "There are no bananas?" This seeks a yes/no response, and the obvious answer then would be "yes" (hai).
For this reason, I end up saying "correct" and "incorrect" in a lot of business meetings.
__________________
The distance between the linguistic dehumanization of a people and their actual suppression and extermination is not great; it is but a small step. - Haig Bosmajian
Emily's Cat is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th March 2022, 11:16 AM   #49
Emily's Cat
Rarely prone to hissy-fits
 
Emily's Cat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: The Wettest Desert on Earth
Posts: 18,404
Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
How about "Do you know whether or not you have had covid?"
Yes, I know that I have had covid
Yes, I know that I have not had covid
No, I don't know whether I've had covid
No, I know that I haven't had covid
__________________
The distance between the linguistic dehumanization of a people and their actual suppression and extermination is not great; it is but a small step. - Haig Bosmajian
Emily's Cat is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th March 2022, 11:20 AM   #50
Emily's Cat
Rarely prone to hissy-fits
 
Emily's Cat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: The Wettest Desert on Earth
Posts: 18,404
Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
I thought the intent of the question was to determine whether you have knowledge of whether you have had covid or not.

Either you know, or you don't know. If you know whether you had it or not, the answer is yes, and if you don't know whether you had it or not (you've never been tested for example), the answer is no. I think it's certainly possible that some people have had it and don't know that they've had it. And some people have no symptoms or only mild symptoms.
What would the utility of that question be?

A person could very well answer "Yes", on the belief that they know they haven't had covid, but they actually did have covid and were asymptomatic. They could also answer "Yes", on the belief that they know they had covid, but in actuality they had a flu, but they didn't get tested. They could also answer "No", because they had symptoms that could have been either the flu or covid, but they didn't get tested, so they aren't certain.
__________________
The distance between the linguistic dehumanization of a people and their actual suppression and extermination is not great; it is but a small step. - Haig Bosmajian
Emily's Cat is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th March 2022, 11:22 AM   #51
Emily's Cat
Rarely prone to hissy-fits
 
Emily's Cat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: The Wettest Desert on Earth
Posts: 18,404
Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
That's my point. If there is a way to misunderstand something then somebody will find it.

The example you give is phrased in a slightly disagreeable tone and would probably elicit the fuller answer. "Have you got a pen?" is a much more polite way to ask for a pen (and there is no confusion about a "yes" or "no" answer).
I don't think it's disagreeable in tone. I think most (not all) americans would read that as shorthand for "I seem to remember you having a pen, is that still true?"
__________________
The distance between the linguistic dehumanization of a people and their actual suppression and extermination is not great; it is but a small step. - Haig Bosmajian
Emily's Cat is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th March 2022, 11:23 AM   #52
Emily's Cat
Rarely prone to hissy-fits
 
Emily's Cat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: The Wettest Desert on Earth
Posts: 18,404
Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I'd say it's an ambiguity in the explicit meaning for English. The implicit meaning is not really ambiguous.
How about we agree that it's an ambiguity in the inferred meaning?
__________________
The distance between the linguistic dehumanization of a people and their actual suppression and extermination is not great; it is but a small step. - Haig Bosmajian
Emily's Cat is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th March 2022, 11:26 AM   #53
theprestige
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: The Antimemetics Division
Posts: 62,416
Originally Posted by Emily's Cat View Post
How about we agree that it's an ambiguity in the inferred meaning? : D
I don't think there's any ambiguity in the inferred meaning, for native English speakers.
__________________
There is no Antimemetics Division.
theprestige is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th March 2022, 11:33 AM   #54
Thermal
Penultimate Amazing
 
Thermal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: East Coast USA
Posts: 20,546
Probably been said already, but there is no structure problem with the question or response. It just sounds weird to an English ear.

"Do you have no bananas?" is not how we phrase questions to start with. That's the weird part that throws us off. Answering "Yes" is the correct answer in any language.

Just rephrase the question to how we ask it: "Are you out of bananas?" "Yes, we are out of bananas."
__________________
We find comfort among those who agree with us, growth among those who don't -Frank A. Clark

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect -Mark Twain
Thermal is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th March 2022, 12:13 PM   #55
HansMustermann
Penultimate Amazing
 
HansMustermann's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 21,336
Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
That's my point. If there is a way to misunderstand something then somebody will find it.
Well, there's that. But that's a more general issue than whether the question is asked in the positive or negative. I mean, you could probably ask "do you have a banana?" and, if you ask enough people, someone will think you need it for scale and offer you a tape measure instead

Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
The example you give is phrased in a slightly disagreeable tone and would probably elicit the fuller answer. "Have you got a pen?" is a much more polite way to ask for a pen (and there is no confusion about a "yes" or "no" answer).
Well, yes, there are nuances and conotations, but I was just talking only about how the two languages work, and at that only about the semantic meaning of "yes" or "no" there. But yes, choosing the right phrasing can indeed be more nuanced.
__________________
Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?
HansMustermann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th March 2022, 12:13 PM   #56
Jack by the hedge
Safely Ignored
 
Jack by the hedge's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 13,877
If English was logical about this type of construction you would never hear an exasperated supplementary "Do you mean yes there are no bananas or yes there actually are bananas?. The familiarity of that type of response shows the ambiguity in the way English is generally used.
Jack by the hedge is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th March 2022, 12:24 PM   #57
HansMustermann
Penultimate Amazing
 
HansMustermann's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 21,336
Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
Probably been said already, but there is no structure problem with the question or response. It just sounds weird to an English ear.

"Do you have no bananas?" is not how we phrase questions to start with. That's the weird part that throws us off. Answering "Yes" is the correct answer in any language.

Just rephrase the question to how we ask it: "Are you out of bananas?" "Yes, we are out of bananas."
The two may mean the same thing, but from a linguistic point of view, you replaced a negative phrasing with a positive one, which also alters the way you answer it in English.

E.g,
"Don't you have money?"
"Nope."
... is generally understood to mean "no, I don't have any money." in English.

Meanwhile
"Are you out of money?"
"Nope." => "No, I'm not out of money"
"Yep." => "Yes, I'm out of money."

Even though the underlying proposition is the same for both "Don't you have money?" and "Are you out of money?", the meaning of a "no" is flipped on its head between the two.

It's not even strictly a quirk of starting with a "don't". I could ask something like "Do you have no shame?" or even use the archaic "Have you no shame?", and I'm pretty sure most English speakers would understand a "nope" to mean "nope, I have none".

I think it's just, as you say, when the structure sounds unusual, that's what throws some people off.
__________________
Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?
HansMustermann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th March 2022, 12:26 PM   #58
HansMustermann
Penultimate Amazing
 
HansMustermann's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 21,336
Originally Posted by Jack by the hedge View Post
If English was logical about this type of construction you would never hear an exasperated supplementary "Do you mean yes there are no bananas or yes there actually are bananas?. The familiarity of that type of response shows the ambiguity in the way English is generally used.
Yeah, English has a bit of an ambiguity problem about a yes to a negative question. Not so much about the negative. That's why I find the German "doch" a conspicuously good idea.
__________________
Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?
HansMustermann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th March 2022, 12:40 PM   #59
Thermal
Penultimate Amazing
 
Thermal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: East Coast USA
Posts: 20,546
Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
The two may mean the same thing, but from a linguistic point of view, you replaced a negative phrasing with a positive one, which also alters the way you answer it in English.

E.g,
"Don't you have money?"
"Nope."
... is generally understood to mean "no, I don't have any money." in English.

Meanwhile
"Are you out of money?"
"Nope." => "No, I'm not out of money"
"Yep." => "Yes, I'm out of money."

Even though the underlying proposition is the same for both "Don't you have money?" and "Are you out of money?", the meaning of a "no" is flipped on its head between the two.

It's not even strictly a quirk of starting with a "don't". I could ask something like "Do you have no shame?" or even use the archaic "Have you no shame?", and I'm pretty sure most English speakers would understand a "nope" to mean "nope, I have none".

I think it's just, as you say, when the structure sounds unusual, that's what throws some people off.
It's interesting that "Don't you have any money?" is the flip structure. If you expand the contraction to "Do not you have any money?", its downright Gothicly phrased. The contraction makes it sound normal.

Answering the spirit of the question, rather than it's literal consistency, seems the move for effective communication.
__________________
We find comfort among those who agree with us, growth among those who don't -Frank A. Clark

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect -Mark Twain
Thermal is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th March 2022, 04:10 PM   #60
HansMustermann
Penultimate Amazing
 
HansMustermann's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 21,336
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 that "Have you no money?" would become archaic, and something like "do not you have any money?" would become the new norm at some point.

I'm even seeing it in real time, live unplugged in Germany at the moment. The grammatically correct way to say "I'm done" (e.g., at the end of a speech) would be "Ich bin fertig", but an Italian mangled it to "Ich habe fertig" some 2 decades ago, and it's actually becoming the new normal way to say it. I've heard it said by managers in meetings with corporate clients. And they're not even trying to make fun of that guy way back. In fact, it's becoming normal for people who've just used it to not even know where that phrasing comes from. They just heard it said that way one time too many, and started saying it like that too. They know it's not the CORRECT grammar, mind you, but if everyone else is saying it, so do they. The meme happily propagates. Fast forward a century or two, and I'd be surprised if that doesn't become the new grammatically correct way to say it.

Edit: 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, it's not proof that people are getting dumber, it's just how languages work. It's how we got from Latin to French or from old proto-Germanic to English. Hell, ye olde educated Latin itself, about half of it were words coined fairly late by some famous orator, and which then everyone else started using.
__________________
Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

Last edited by HansMustermann; 11th March 2022 at 04:16 PM.
HansMustermann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th March 2022, 04:21 PM   #61
HansMustermann
Penultimate Amazing
 
HansMustermann's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 21,336
Or here's a literal Idiocracy thought. Ye olde Germanic, and generally old PIE languages, didn't have definite articles as separate words. But at some point someone started using the pronouns as definite articles. Quite literally the old Germanic equivalent of saying "how do you like them apples." Then those became the definite articles, and they invented new pronouns to replace the ones that had just become something else. Pretty much all the western european languages are the result of our ancestors going hillbilly with the language
__________________
Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?
HansMustermann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th March 2022, 04:44 PM   #62
Vixen
Penultimate Amazing
 
Vixen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 30,809
In Finnish we don't have that problem as the answer to a question is an affirmation or denial of the verb in the question. For example, 'Do you have no bananas?' A: 'I have' or 'I have not'. 'Do you drive?' A: 'I drive' or, 'I don't drive; En aja'. En doesn't mean, no (which is, 'ei') but is the negative form of 'I'. (You don't drive would be 'et'; 'we: 'emme') as the answer.

There is yes and no (kyllä and ei) used for agreeing or disagreeing but it is far more common to use the verb as asked in the question.


Also, whilst English follows the rules of maths: a negative + a negative = a positive; a negative and a positive equals a negative; a positive and a positive equals a positive, in many languages, for example Italian, a double negative doesn't confer a positive, as in English but a negative. For example, 'I hardly knew him' = negative in English, would be expressed as two negatives in other languages (literally: 'I hardly [didn't] know him' or more elegantly, 'I hardly knew him at all', the 'hardly' and the 'at all' being the double negative to make it a negative.
__________________
The parting on the Left
Is now parting on the Right ~ Pete Townshend

Vixen is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th March 2022, 04:53 PM   #63
theprestige
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: The Antimemetics Division
Posts: 62,416
Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
It's interesting that "Don't you have any money?" is the flip structure. If you expand the contraction to "Do not you have any money?", its downright Gothicly phrased. The contraction makes it sound normal.

Answering the spirit of the question, rather than it's literal consistency, seems the move for effective communication.
The way I see it, understanding the spirit of the question, rather than relying on literal consistency, is what being fluent in a language is all about. Foreign students of the language should be coached on grokking the spirit of its use. Fluent speakers pretending to be confused because the spirit of the phrasing doesn't match its literal consistency should be coached on taking their obnoxious pose to tiktok where they can at least try to monetize it.
__________________
There is no Antimemetics Division.
theprestige is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th March 2022, 07:30 PM   #64
psionl0
Skeptical about skeptics
 
psionl0's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: 31°57'S 115°57'E
Posts: 19,637
Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Well, there's that. But that's a more general issue than whether the question is asked in the positive or negative. I mean, you could probably ask "do you have a banana?" and, if you ask enough people, someone will think you need it for scale and offer you a tape measure instead
There's no need to get weird about it.

My main point remains. A simple "yes" or "no" answer leaves scope for misinterpretation for a question that is posed negatively whereas for a positively posed question it doesn't.

There may be exceptions where there is no confusion about the "yes" or "no" answer (or, at least, one of them) but this is not a case where exceptions prove the rule.
__________________
"The process by which banks create money is so simple that the mind is repelled. Where something so important is involved, a deeper mystery seems only decent." - Galbraith, 1975

Last edited by psionl0; 11th March 2022 at 08:22 PM.
psionl0 is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 12th March 2022, 08:52 AM   #65
Brainster
Penultimate Amazing
 
Brainster's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 19,382
Originally Posted by Emily's Cat View Post
Yes, I know that I have had covid
Yes, I know that I have not had covid
No, I don't know whether I've had covid
No, I know that I haven't had covid
Do you mean 'know' in a biblical sense?
__________________
My new blog: Recent Reads.
1960s Comic Book Nostalgia
Visit the Screw Loose Change blog.
Brainster is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 12th March 2022, 08:58 AM   #66
Thermal
Penultimate Amazing
 
Thermal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: East Coast USA
Posts: 20,546
Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
Do you mean 'know' in a biblical sense?
Yes, we have know bananas.
__________________
We find comfort among those who agree with us, growth among those who don't -Frank A. Clark

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect -Mark Twain
Thermal is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 12th March 2022, 10:20 AM   #67
bruto
Penultimate Amazing
 
bruto's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Way way north of Diddy Wah Diddy
Posts: 33,256
Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
Yes, we have know bananas.
Are you sure that "have" is properly placed?
__________________
I love this world, but not for its answers. (Mary Oliver)

"There is another world, but it's in this one." (Paul Eluard)
bruto is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 13th March 2022, 08:45 AM   #68
Gord_in_Toronto
Penultimate Amazing
 
Gord_in_Toronto's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 23,134
Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
How about "Do you know whether or not you have had covid?"
That I could answer.
__________________
"Reality is what's left when you cease to believe." Philip K. Dick
Gord_in_Toronto is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 13th March 2022, 02:47 PM   #69
Norman Alexander
Penultimate Amazing
 
Norman Alexander's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Gundungurra
Posts: 12,910
Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
Have you had Covid?
Yes.
No.
I don’t know.
Maybe?
Some of the above.
Others of the above.
All of the above.
None of the above.
__________________
...our governments are just trying to protect us from terror. In the same way that someone banging a hornets’ nest with a stick is trying to protect us from hornets. Frankie Boyle, Guardian, July 2015
Norman Alexander is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 13th March 2022, 05:42 PM   #70
arthwollipot
Observer of Phenomena
Pronouns: he/him
 
arthwollipot's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Ngunnawal Country
Posts: 79,042
Apart from anything else, I think we can all agree that it is a terrible question.
arthwollipot is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 13th March 2022, 11:42 PM   #71
psionl0
Skeptical about skeptics
 
psionl0's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: 31°57'S 115°57'E
Posts: 19,637
Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Apart from anything else, I think we can all agree that it is a terrible question.
Now you are just baiting me.

If the answer to Cheetah's question was "maybe?" then the way you phrased the question becomes reasonable.
__________________
"The process by which banks create money is so simple that the mind is repelled. Where something so important is involved, a deeper mystery seems only decent." - Galbraith, 1975
psionl0 is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 14th March 2022, 04:12 AM   #72
Puppycow
Penultimate Amazing
 
Puppycow's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Yokohama, Japan
Posts: 27,619
Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Apart from anything else, I think we can all agree that it is a terrible question.
Yeah. A better question would be "Have you ever tested positive for, or been diagnosed with COVID-19?"

The only people who really know whether they've had it or not are those who have tested positive. If you want to be really pedantic, there's still a theoretical possibility of a false positive, but I think we can ignore that one as negligibly unlikely. For almost everyone else, you can't be 100% certain that you never had it unless you got tested regularly throughout the pandemic, which would be unusual. Maybe if you lived on an isolated island where nobody ever had it and the borders were closed before the virus had a chance to get in.

ETA: I had some kind of cold back in Feb. of 2020, before Japan really reacted to it. At the time I thought it was too mild to be COVID-19, but now I'm not so sure. Never got tested so I'll never know.
__________________
A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
William Shakespeare

Last edited by Puppycow; 14th March 2022 at 04:16 AM.
Puppycow is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 14th March 2022, 02:36 PM   #73
Emily's Cat
Rarely prone to hissy-fits
 
Emily's Cat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: The Wettest Desert on Earth
Posts: 18,404
Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
Yes, we have know bananas.
Some prefer to know cucumbers
__________________
The distance between the linguistic dehumanization of a people and their actual suppression and extermination is not great; it is but a small step. - Haig Bosmajian
Emily's Cat is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 14th March 2022, 02:37 PM   #74
Emily's Cat
Rarely prone to hissy-fits
 
Emily's Cat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: The Wettest Desert on Earth
Posts: 18,404
Let's just all acknowledge that English is a messy, contradictory, hodge-podge language with an immense number of inconsistencies.
__________________
The distance between the linguistic dehumanization of a people and their actual suppression and extermination is not great; it is but a small step. - Haig Bosmajian
Emily's Cat is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 14th March 2022, 02:52 PM   #75
Thermal
Penultimate Amazing
 
Thermal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: East Coast USA
Posts: 20,546
Originally Posted by Emily's Cat View Post
Some prefer to know cucumbers
Its one thing I hate about living in The Garden State: too much competition. Makes me want to move to Hawai'i, near the pineapple plantations.
__________________
We find comfort among those who agree with us, growth among those who don't -Frank A. Clark

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect -Mark Twain
Thermal is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 14th March 2022, 03:21 PM   #76
Gord_in_Toronto
Penultimate Amazing
 
Gord_in_Toronto's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 23,134
Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
Its one thing I hate about living in The Garden State: too much competition. Makes me want to move to Hawai'i, near the pineapple plantations.
And me to Italy with the spaghetti trees.
__________________
"Reality is what's left when you cease to believe." Philip K. Dick
Gord_in_Toronto is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 14th March 2022, 03:27 PM   #77
Emily's Cat
Rarely prone to hissy-fits
 
Emily's Cat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: The Wettest Desert on Earth
Posts: 18,404
Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
Its one thing I hate about living in The Garden State: too much competition. Makes me want to move to Hawai'i, near the pineapple plantations.
Your kink is a bit too much for me...
__________________
The distance between the linguistic dehumanization of a people and their actual suppression and extermination is not great; it is but a small step. - Haig Bosmajian
Emily's Cat is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 14th March 2022, 03:44 PM   #78
theprestige
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: The Antimemetics Division
Posts: 62,416
Originally Posted by Emily's Cat View Post
Let's just all acknowledge that English is a messy, contradictory, hodge-podge language with an immense number of inconsistencies.
As long as we also acknowledge that plenty of people, both native speakers and foreign students of the language, are able to figure it out and do just fine with it.
__________________
There is no Antimemetics Division.
theprestige is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 14th March 2022, 08:56 PM   #79
Reformed Offlian
Graduate Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2020
Location: USA
Posts: 1,017
Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
Dear fellow speakers of English.

I was asked by a Japanese colleague about the meaning of the following question and answer:

Q: Is there no exclusive relationship?
A: Yes.

In this case, given only the above information, does the answer mean

"Yes, there is no exclusive relationship"
or
"Yes, there is an exclusive relationship"

Likewise if the answer were simply "No."

And this reminded me of the famous song "Yes, we have no bananas."

If a customer at a grocery store were to ask "Do you have no bananas?" presumably "Yes" means "Yes, we have no bananas." Right?

I'm a little confused.
It's confusing because one typically only phrases a question in the negative if one is anticipating either a similarly negative answer or a described alternative. (Questions of the sort: "Is there no other way?" are typically fishing for an alternative to be spelled out). A simple yes without further explanation is both unforeseen by the asker and un-idiomatic for the responder.

Perhaps English needs something that serves the same function as "doch" in German or "si" in French.

Last edited by Reformed Offlian; 14th March 2022 at 08:59 PM.
Reformed Offlian is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 14th March 2022, 09:28 PM   #80
arthwollipot
Observer of Phenomena
Pronouns: he/him
 
arthwollipot's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Ngunnawal Country
Posts: 79,042
Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
Yeah. A better question would be "Have you ever tested positive for, or been diagnosed with COVID-19?"
With multiple choice between Yes, No, and I Don't Know. That would gather the required data.
arthwollipot is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Reply

International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » Education

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 06:25 PM.
Powered by vBulletin. Copyright ©2000 - 2022, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

This forum began as part of the James Randi Education Foundation (JREF). However, the forum now exists as
an independent entity with no affiliation with or endorsement by the JREF, including the section in reference to "JREF" topics.

Disclaimer: Messages posted in the Forum are solely the opinion of their authors.