Velifer wrote: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.
Basically, any natural language (and artificial language, really), needs there to be an unconscious understanding between the people speaking in order for it to work. When we say there are twenty sheep in the field, the listener assumes there are no more than twenty, even though that's not technically being stated (because why would you say 20 when there were clearly 21?) When we reply to something with something unrelated, the person will attempt to relate it to the conversation (e.g. if I replied ‘I just had my appendix out’ to ‘let's get seafood’, it's not technically related, but the listener will infer the refusal quite easily by relating it to the conversation). So there is an assumption when we speak that the other person will be adding to the conversation, rather than just spouting random jibberish, and we will try to resolve whatever they say to be relevant (the webcomic xkcd, which I heard was quite popular among the people of exkochamber.me, recently had a comic relevant to this (but I can't find it as my Internet seems to be crawling right now) — No Pun Intended
). Anyway, your two-year-old is giving the person they're talking to less information than what the person expects, so they attempt to infer that information from what they've said and from context clues, and they get confused as the inferrence isn't there, because your two-year-old isn't really cooperating with them. Not that there's anything wrong with that. (Did the start of this paragraph confuse anyone? It wasn't very relevant to what was quoted, so you might have tried to resolve what I was saying to be relevant. Not that I did that intentionally; it's just nearly 3am here.)
In response to the OP, you're not really agreeing with them. You're really backchannelling
(I think, although replying ‘yep’ or ‘nope’ sounds weird to my, Australian, ears); this is basically where you make sounds or use simple phrases to encourage the speaker, to indicate interest, sympathy, or, in the case you're interested in, agreement. Backchannelling disagreement
doesn't make sense, because you wouldn't be encouraging them to continue, you'd want to voice your own dissenting opinion on the matter. So the way you'd say ‘no’ would be to interrupt them, or something like that.
‘Do you mind’ questions aren't really questions; they're requests; and the person making the request is trying to be polite by making the ‘question’ about the other person, rather than themself. So the person answering wouldn't generally answer with a yes or a no — unless they're trying to be pedantic — they'd answer with something that implies approval or disapproval (e.g. ‘sure’, or ‘I'm using it right now’).