A name for this phenomenon? (ambiguous meanings of "no")

For the discussion of language mechanics, grammar, vocabulary, trends, and other such linguistic topics, in english and other languages.

Moderators: gmalivuk, Moderators General, Prelates

Sunsnail
Posts: 166
Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2007 6:44 pm UTC

A name for this phenomenon? (ambiguous meanings of "no")

Postby Sunsnail » Tue Oct 23, 2007 11:11 pm UTC

In this conversation:

"This website benefits everybody. It's win-win."
"You don't see many of those anymore."

it doesn't matter whether or not I say "nope" or "yep", the meaning will be the same. I will be agreeing with the statement above.

Is there a name for this?

masher
Posts: 821
Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2007 11:07 pm UTC
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby masher » Tue Oct 23, 2007 11:25 pm UTC

Sunsnail wrote:In this conversation:

"This website benefits everybody. It's win-win."
"You don't see many of those anymore."

it doesn't matter whether or not I say "nope" or "yep", the meaning will be the same. I will be agreeing with the statement above.

Is there a name for this?


It can also depend on how you phrase your answer:

"Yeah, you don't see many of those."; or
"Nope, you do, they're everywhere."

.

That's almost as good as the phrase "yeah, nah" that everyone says around here.

User avatar
mekon
Posts: 7
Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2007 2:03 am UTC
Location: Oregon, USA
Contact:

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby mekon » Wed Oct 24, 2007 5:34 am UTC

It's an English-only thing. In Japanese, for example, if you want to concur you have to be affirmative.
-mekon

"Facts are the enemy of truth"

User avatar
Dingbats
Posts: 921
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2007 12:46 pm UTC
Location: Sweden
Contact:

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby Dingbats » Wed Oct 24, 2007 10:53 am UTC

mekon wrote:It's an English-only thing. In Japanese, for example, if you want to concur you have to be affirmative.

Not English only, it's in Swedish too for example, but it's not in all languages.

That said, I don't know if there's a name for it.

Mad_Gouki
Posts: 40
Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2007 10:30 am UTC

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby Mad_Gouki » Wed Oct 24, 2007 3:59 pm UTC

the term is Litotes
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Litotes
it comes from negating the opposite of a claim instead of making the actual claim.
for example
"That was no big deal."
"That's not bad."
Litotes are not exactly what you are talking about, but Litotes can be (and often are) the thing you are refering to.
Also, just so you know, there is no singular form for the word Litotes, don't even try to look for one, it is no walk in the park.

User avatar
Dingbats
Posts: 921
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2007 12:46 pm UTC
Location: Sweden
Contact:

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby Dingbats » Wed Oct 24, 2007 6:07 pm UTC

Mad_Gouki wrote:it comes from negating the opposite of a claim instead of making the actual claim.

But that's not exactly what's happening here, is it? Regardless of whether the response is yes or no, it's still affirming the claim. None of them is a negation.

Mad_Gouki
Posts: 40
Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2007 10:30 am UTC

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby Mad_Gouki » Wed Oct 24, 2007 7:11 pm UTC

Dingbats wrote:
Mad_Gouki wrote:it comes from negating the opposite of a claim instead of making the actual claim.

But that's not exactly what's happening here, is it? Regardless of whether the response is yes or no, it's still affirming the claim. None of them is a negation.

It is a side effect of using Litotes.

User avatar
Dingbats
Posts: 921
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2007 12:46 pm UTC
Location: Sweden
Contact:

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby Dingbats » Wed Oct 24, 2007 8:02 pm UTC

Mad_Gouki wrote:
Dingbats wrote:
Mad_Gouki wrote:it comes from negating the opposite of a claim instead of making the actual claim.

But that's not exactly what's happening here, is it? Regardless of whether the response is yes or no, it's still affirming the claim. None of them is a negation.

It is a side effect of using Litotes.

Explain further?

User avatar
bbctol
Super Deluxe Forum Title of DESTINYâ„¢
Posts: 3137
Joined: Tue Mar 06, 2007 10:27 pm UTC
Location: The Twilight Zone
Contact:

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby bbctol » Wed Oct 24, 2007 8:22 pm UTC

Dingbats wrote:
Mad_Gouki wrote:it comes from negating the opposite of a claim instead of making the actual claim.

But that's not exactly what's happening here, is it? Regardless of whether the response is yes or no, it's still affirming the claim. None of them is a negation.

...as happens in all Litotes.

Mad_Gouki
Posts: 40
Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2007 10:30 am UTC

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby Mad_Gouki » Wed Oct 24, 2007 8:35 pm UTC

Dingbats wrote:
Mad_Gouki wrote:
Dingbats wrote:
Mad_Gouki wrote:it comes from negating the opposite of a claim instead of making the actual claim.

But that's not exactly what's happening here, is it? Regardless of whether the response is yes or no, it's still affirming the claim. None of them is a negation.

It is a side effect of using Litotes.

Explain further?

I do not know the name for a sentence structured so that a yes or no both confirms the statement, but I think it has to do with the litotes.
"That wasn't hard"
"He does not understand"
"My computer is not crappy"
you could restate the sentences without negating their opposites, thereby removing the ambiguity in the reply.
"That was easy"
"He is confused"
"My computer RAWKS" :twisted:

User avatar
Dingbats
Posts: 921
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2007 12:46 pm UTC
Location: Sweden
Contact:

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby Dingbats » Thu Oct 25, 2007 10:21 am UTC

Oh, you mean the litotes is in the original statement. Right.

User avatar
Ari
Posts: 725
Joined: Sun Oct 07, 2007 5:09 pm UTC
Location: Wellington, New Zealand

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby Ari » Thu Oct 25, 2007 12:29 pm UTC

Some languages, like german, have a special contradictory version of the word yes that you can use in this sort of situation that doesn't agree with the statement. (German's is "Doch") The best English equivalent is saying something like "Oh yes it is!"
"Hey %*&^er, offensive communication works fine so long as you do it respectfully." :D
"I am so quoting that out of context at a later date."

zenten
Posts: 3799
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2007 7:42 am UTC
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby zenten » Fri Oct 26, 2007 1:27 pm UTC

Ari wrote:Some languages, like german, have a special contradictory version of the word yes that you can use in this sort of situation that doesn't agree with the statement. (German's is "Doch") The best English equivalent is saying something like "Oh yes it is!"


Well, you can say "affirmative" or "negative" in English, with removes ambiguity (but makes you sound like a robot in a bad SF movie).

User avatar
Ari
Posts: 725
Joined: Sun Oct 07, 2007 5:09 pm UTC
Location: Wellington, New Zealand

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby Ari » Fri Oct 26, 2007 6:32 pm UTC

zenten wrote:
Ari wrote:Some languages, like german, have a special contradictory version of the word yes that you can use in this sort of situation that doesn't agree with the statement. (German's is "Doch") The best English equivalent is saying something like "Oh yes it is!"


Well, you can say "affirmative" or "negative" in English, with removes ambiguity (but makes you sound like a robot in a bad SF movie).


Not really, it has the exactly same abiguity of whether the "affirmative" is agreeable or contradictory. ;) The BEST way to deal with it is to simply say "I agree" or "I disagree". ;)
"Hey %*&^er, offensive communication works fine so long as you do it respectfully." :D
"I am so quoting that out of context at a later date."

User avatar
zomgmouse
Posts: 167
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2007 2:44 am UTC
Location: Melbourne, Australia.
Contact:

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby zomgmouse » Thu Nov 01, 2007 11:55 am UTC

Ari wrote:Some languages, like german, have a special contradictory version of the word yes that you can use in this sort of situation that doesn't agree with the statement. (German's is "Doch") The best English equivalent is saying something like "Oh yes it is!"


In French this would be "si".
"Alf Todd," said Ukridge, soaring to an impressive burst of imagery, "has about as much chance as a one-armed blind man in a dark room trying to shove a pound of melted butter into a wild cat's left ear with a red-hot needle." P.G. Wodehouse

zenten
Posts: 3799
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2007 7:42 am UTC
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby zenten » Thu Nov 01, 2007 2:30 pm UTC

Ari wrote:
zenten wrote:
Ari wrote:Some languages, like german, have a special contradictory version of the word yes that you can use in this sort of situation that doesn't agree with the statement. (German's is "Doch") The best English equivalent is saying something like "Oh yes it is!"


Well, you can say "affirmative" or "negative" in English, with removes ambiguity (but makes you sound like a robot in a bad SF movie).


Not really, it has the exactly same abiguity of whether the "affirmative" is agreeable or contradictory. ;) The BEST way to deal with it is to simply say "I agree" or "I disagree". ;)


No, saying "affirmative" means that the statement was correct. Saying "correct" is another way of doing it.

User avatar
4=5
Posts: 2073
Joined: Sat Apr 28, 2007 3:02 am UTC

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby 4=5 » Sun Nov 04, 2007 1:12 am UTC

Mad_Gouki wrote:
Dingbats wrote:
Mad_Gouki wrote:
Dingbats wrote:
Mad_Gouki wrote:it comes from negating the opposite of a claim instead of making the actual claim.

But that's not exactly what's happening here, is it? Regardless of whether the response is yes or no, it's still affirming the claim. None of them is a negation.

It is a side effect of using Litotes.

Explain further?

I do not know the name for a sentence structured so that a yes or no both confirms the statement, but I think it has to do with the litotes.
"That wasn't hard"
"He does not understand"
"My computer is not crappy"
you could restate the sentences without negating their opposites, thereby removing the ambiguity in the reply.
"That was easy"
"He is confused"
"My computer RAWKS" :twisted:
"do you mind if I eat this?"

User avatar
zomgmouse
Posts: 167
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2007 2:44 am UTC
Location: Melbourne, Australia.
Contact:

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby zomgmouse » Sun Nov 04, 2007 11:02 am UTC

4=5 wrote:"do you mind if I eat this?"


Yes, I do mind (as in DON'T EAT IT).
No, I don't mind (as in GO AHEAD AND EAT IT).

That's not really an example of what we're looking at, although the 'do you mind' questions are sometimes confusing.
"Alf Todd," said Ukridge, soaring to an impressive burst of imagery, "has about as much chance as a one-armed blind man in a dark room trying to shove a pound of melted butter into a wild cat's left ear with a red-hot needle." P.G. Wodehouse

Cassi
Posts: 1950
Joined: Tue Aug 28, 2007 4:53 pm UTC
Location: England.

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby Cassi » Sun Nov 04, 2007 2:17 pm UTC

I think with "Do you mind" questions, you'll usually say more than just yes or no (or at least I do). "No, go ahead." "Yes, that's fine." "Yes, I do mind."
une see wrote:Cass, YOU are my favorite!

User avatar
armorsmith42
Posts: 105
Joined: Sat Aug 11, 2007 1:20 am UTC
Location: London
Contact:

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby armorsmith42 » Mon Nov 05, 2007 4:38 am UTC

I'd just say, "don't" the answer to his question, "yes, I mind if you eat this." is implied.

iI works inversely for, "go ahead."
I must obey the inscrutable exhortations of my soul

6.626068 × 10-34 m^2 kg / s

User avatar
evilbeanfiend
Posts: 2650
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 7:05 am UTC
Location: the old world

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby evilbeanfiend » Thu Jan 31, 2008 1:43 pm UTC

yes welsh never has this ambiguity because there is no direct translation for yes or no. you have to repeat the verb from the question

e.g. i do or i don't, i have or i have not
in ur beanz makin u eveel

User avatar
Clumpy
Posts: 1883
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2007 4:48 am UTC
Contact:

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby Clumpy » Sat Feb 02, 2008 10:01 am UTC

Is there a name for this phenomenon?


Yes - it's called the "tantalizingly-vague headline", and I must follow.

User avatar
Kewangji
Has Been Touched
Posts: 2255
Joined: Sun Oct 07, 2007 5:20 pm UTC
Location: Lost in Translation
Contact:

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby Kewangji » Sat Feb 02, 2008 8:29 pm UTC

Sunsnail wrote:In this conversation:

"This website benefits everybody. It's win-win."
If I reply with 'nope' to that ... how am I agreeing?
If you like my words sign up for my newsletter, Airport Tattoo Parlour: https://tinyletter.com/distantstations

The Great Hippo wrote:Nuclear bombs are like potato chips, you can't stop after just *one*

User avatar
4=5
Posts: 2073
Joined: Sat Apr 28, 2007 3:02 am UTC

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby 4=5 » Sun Feb 03, 2008 12:20 am UTC

that's not what you'd be responding to it's the
"You don't see many of those anymore."

User avatar
Ari
Posts: 725
Joined: Sun Oct 07, 2007 5:09 pm UTC
Location: Wellington, New Zealand

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby Ari » Mon Feb 04, 2008 2:36 pm UTC

Dingbats wrote:
Mad_Gouki wrote:it comes from negating the opposite of a claim instead of making the actual claim.

But that's not exactly what's happening here, is it? Regardless of whether the response is yes or no, it's still affirming the claim. None of them is a negation.


It's because English doesn't have a contradictory form of "no" or "yes." In German, if you said "ja" to such a statement, you'd be agreeing with it, but if you said "doch!", you'd be disagreeing. Both of those words technically mean "yes", although "doch!" is more equivilent to "Oh yes you do!"
"Hey %*&^er, offensive communication works fine so long as you do it respectfully." :D
"I am so quoting that out of context at a later date."

User avatar
Kewangji
Has Been Touched
Posts: 2255
Joined: Sun Oct 07, 2007 5:20 pm UTC
Location: Lost in Translation
Contact:

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby Kewangji » Mon Feb 04, 2008 6:27 pm UTC

4=5 wrote:that's not what you'd be responding to it's the
"You don't see many of those anymore."

Ohhh.
Haha. I thought it was two examples, not one. My bad.
If you like my words sign up for my newsletter, Airport Tattoo Parlour: https://tinyletter.com/distantstations

The Great Hippo wrote:Nuclear bombs are like potato chips, you can't stop after just *one*

User avatar
proof_man
Posts: 171
Joined: Mon Dec 31, 2007 11:21 am UTC

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby proof_man » Mon Feb 04, 2008 9:35 pm UTC

edit
Last edited by proof_man on Fri May 17, 2013 12:56 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Dextrose
Posts: 101
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2007 7:34 pm UTC
Location: Boston, MA
Contact:

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby Dextrose » Tue Feb 05, 2008 4:36 am UTC

zomgmouse wrote:
4=5 wrote:"do you mind if I eat this?"


Yes, I do mind (as in DON'T EAT IT).
No, I don't mind (as in GO AHEAD AND EAT IT).

That's not really an example of what we're looking at, although the 'do you mind' questions are sometimes confusing.


Well, there's two (major) ways of answering in the affirmative in english - yes and yeah. Yes is the formal, so its meaning is closer to "affirmative," yeah being closer to "positive." So to me:
"Yes." - closer to "Yes, I mind."
"Yeah." - closer to "All right."
Neither of these is really acceptable in my mind because it's so ambiguous. My unambigous answers are "(Yes/yeah), I do (mind.)" OR "(No/nah), go ahead."

I just posted in the Official English thread about something like this, basically talking about how there's no panacea Definition of English either in literal denotation or grammar. Every instance where you'd use 'yep/yup/yes/yeah/yea/aye/uh-huh'/'nope/no/nah/nay/nu-uh' is a case unto itself and requires specific examination, because they can all mean different things in different places. This (the original topic) is a particularly strange case because 'yep' and 'nope' are both acceptable because they point to different things, and thus other words are needed to "anchor" the meaning of the sentence if any other meaning is necessary.

So. Can we get back to the man's original question, is there a name for the grammatical case? I'm guessing there isn't. There should be, though. To be clear, we're looking for what to call "the phenomenon" of being able to communicate agreement to a question or statement which concerns a negative by answering either "yes" or "no;" in this case, "yes" is in its standard form, agreeing with the second person, while "no" affirms the negative the second person has delivered.
Buda, sevmekten, güçlüğü keşfemelidi; severek, budayı olmuş.

Rilian
Posts: 496
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2007 1:33 pm UTC

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby Rilian » Sun Oct 26, 2008 4:53 am UTC

I think that's because it's not a question that's being responded to.

But that thing from the other thread was like "do you not go to the club anymore?" and I think the correct answer is "yes, I don't." However, I know that both would work, and the only thing that changes it is your intonation. Both yes and no would work for either meaning.

In the example from this OP I think Nope would be a better answer. Yup would sound funny to me.

Name for it? Keine Anung, but I'll ask around (my mom, a professor here, whoever I find).

I usually say "no" if someone says, "do you mind ..." and my casual tone indicates to them what I mean.
And I'm -2.

User avatar
Monika
Welcoming Aarvark
Posts: 3673
Joined: Mon Aug 18, 2008 8:03 am UTC
Location: Germany, near Heidelberg
Contact:

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby Monika » Mon Oct 27, 2008 5:32 pm UTC

In German, you can answer all negative questions with either "ja" (yes) or "nein" (no) and it means the same. E.g. "Aren't there any apples left?" => no matter if you say ja or nein, there aren't any left. (Saying "nein" is correct, saying "ja" is much more common.) There is a special word for "yes" in response to negative questions, "doch", to express the opposite, i.e. you're wrong, there *are* apples left, you just didn't look in the right place.

So when we learned in English class that answering yes to a negative questions expresses opposition, like "doch", we all had serious trouble with this. It feels soooo wrong. I simply refused to believe my teacher and didn't use that for I think another one to three years ... must have confused my British host parents to no end. The only thing I ever found so hard was shaking one's head for yes and nodding for no in Greece (this year).
#xkcd-q on irc.foonetic.net - the LGBTIQQA support channel
Please donate to help these people

HareichiSan
Posts: 18
Joined: Sun Jul 20, 2008 10:16 am UTC

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby HareichiSan » Thu Oct 30, 2008 12:17 am UTC

I'm sure there is, I'm just stupid, so I wouldn't know.

User avatar
Bobber
contains Disodium Phosphate
Posts: 1357
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2008 2:09 pm UTC
Location: Holme, Denmark.
Contact:

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby Bobber » Thu Oct 30, 2008 9:24 am UTC

HareichiSan wrote:I'm sure there is, I'm just stupid, so I wouldn't know.


That's all you have to say after 29 other posts thoroughly debating the topic?
You're basically not contributing at all.
What's the point of taking the time to post when the post does not contain any relevant information?
I don't twist the truth, I just make it complex.
mrbaggins wrote:There are two tools in life, duct tape and WD40. If it moves and shouldn't, use the tape. If it doesn't move and should, use the WD40.

User avatar
keeneal
Posts: 208
Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2008 3:19 am UTC
Location: Glenside during the school year, Rising Sun in the summers, Lancaster in the in-between
Contact:

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby keeneal » Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:35 am UTC

Bobber wrote:
HareichiSan wrote:I'm sure there is, I'm just stupid, so I wouldn't know.


That's all you have to say after 29 other posts thoroughly debating the topic?
You're basically not contributing at all.
What's the point of taking the time to post when the post does not contain any relevant information?


Said the pot to the kettle. teehee


You know, I've been studying German through 8 levels now, and I never understood the purpose of the word "doch" until just now. Thank you!
On topic: how does one go about looking up these kinds of things, beyond asking someone knowledgeable? Reverse reference books would be magnificent if they existed.


EDIT:: I'm a moron... spelling and improper use of quotation
I prepared Explosive Runes this morning.Alex Keene

User avatar
Schmorgluck
Posts: 67
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 2:48 am UTC
Location: Nantes

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby Schmorgluck » Mon Mar 23, 2009 3:24 am UTC

evilbeanfiend wrote:yes welsh never has this ambiguity because there is no direct translation for yes or no. you have to repeat the verb from the question

e.g. i do or i don't, i have or i have not

Interestingly (and unsurprisingly), it's also the case in Breton. Well, almost: there are equivalents to "yes" and "no" ("ia" and "nann"), but as far as I know they are barely used except for extra insistence (maybe they are imported words, I'm not sure), and aside from that the way to answer a question is the same as in Welsh.

Monika wrote:So when we learned in English class that answering yes to a negative questions expresses opposition, like "doch", we all had serious trouble with this. It feels soooo wrong. I simply refused to believe my teacher and didn't use that for I think another one to three years ... must have confused my British host parents to no end.

I see your point: being French and having learned German before English, being taught there is no specific word to contradict a negative sentence in English kinda confused me.
Image

Fryie
Posts: 77
Joined: Sun Jul 13, 2008 5:55 am UTC

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby Fryie » Mon Mar 23, 2009 6:50 am UTC

As for the "do you mind...?" question: I'm not a native speaker, but the thing I'd probably say (if I was ok with whatever that person wanted to do) would be "sure". If I was not ok with it I'd use a longer reply, as in: "Mmmh - can't you rather..."

I guess that shows pretty much the shift of this construction to an indirect speech act; people are not really expecting that you tell them if you mind or no, but that you speak up in case you don't.

User avatar
Monika
Welcoming Aarvark
Posts: 3673
Joined: Mon Aug 18, 2008 8:03 am UTC
Location: Germany, near Heidelberg
Contact:

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby Monika » Mon Mar 23, 2009 8:37 am UTC

keeneal wrote:You know, I've been studying German through 8 levels now, and I never understood the purpose of the word "doch" until just now. Thank you!
On topic: how does one go about looking up these kinds of things, beyond asking someone knowledgeable? Reverse reference books would be magnificent if they existed.

What would a reverse reference book look like? Surely there must be books that explain in English what the German word "doch" means, already? Or shouldn't that even be found in a dictionary?


Schmorgluck wrote:I see your point: being French and having learned German before English, being taught there is no specific word to contradict a negative sentence in English kinda confused me.

Hey, if you ever plan to conquer England again and make them use "si" in response to negative questions in place of "yes", like it is done in French, I am all for it!

Isn't it unusual to learn German first? I thought English is generally the first foreign language in France, too.
#xkcd-q on irc.foonetic.net - the LGBTIQQA support channel
Please donate to help these people

User avatar
Schmorgluck
Posts: 67
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 2:48 am UTC
Location: Nantes

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby Schmorgluck » Mon Mar 23, 2009 12:00 pm UTC

Yes, it is indeed unusual.
Image

User avatar
Grop
Posts: 1998
Joined: Mon Oct 06, 2008 10:36 am UTC
Location: France

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby Grop » Mon Mar 23, 2009 2:02 pm UTC

I did the same (although I remember almost no German). I think most middle schools in France allow (or allowed) kids to take German first. English is then mandatory as a second foreign language.

User avatar
Velifer
Posts: 1132
Joined: Wed Dec 26, 2007 4:05 pm UTC
Location: 40ºN, 83ºW

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby Velifer » Mon Mar 23, 2009 2:36 pm UTC

These are delightful!

Do what my 2-year-old does. Answer them literally with a one word "yes" or "no." Then just look at them. People stop and have to untangle their own string of double negatives to find out what the answer means.

"You don't see many of those anymore."
"Yes." (I agree, they are quite rare.)

I'd usually say "No, you don't." but hey, sometimes it's fun being a dick, especially to ranting authority figures.
Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies have nothing to lose but their chains -Marx

User avatar
csam
Posts: 65
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 1:16 pm UTC
Location: American in France
Contact:

Re: Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Postby csam » Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:27 pm UTC

Monika wrote:So when we learned in English class that answering yes to a negative questions expresses opposition, like "doch", we all had serious trouble with this. It feels soooo wrong.

I actually think that in theory, this would actually be the rule. So your teacher would be right in terms of official, theoretical grammar or something... it's just that the distinction doesn't exist at all in practice.


Return to “Language/Linguistics”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 8 guests