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  1. #1
    alexchan is offline Newbie
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    Default How do you respond to a negative statement?

    I 'd like to know the meaning of 'yes' and 'no' when you respond to a negative statement.

    For example: A: That's not very difficult.
    B: Yes.

    Does B mean 'Yes, that's difficult', or 'Yes, you're right.'?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: How do you respond to a negative statement?

    Quote Originally Posted by alexchan View Post
    I 'd like to know the meaning of 'yes' and 'no' when you respond to a negative statement.

    For example: A: That's not very difficult.
    B: Yes.

    Does B mean 'Yes, that's difficult', or 'Yes, you're right.'?

    Thanks.
    I don't know what B means, as he's not speaking the sort of English I know. I could probably tell from the context if I was there; I could also tell that he wasn't a native speaker. But in order to be clear, in Br Eng, he would say 'No [it's not]' if he agrees or 'Yes it is' if he doesn't. The 'it is' (or something that does the same job - a very formal speaker might say 'On the contrary...') is essential; the 'it's not' isn't.

    b
    Last edited by BobK; 17-Mar-2009 at 10:08. Reason: Added last sentence

  3. #3
    alexchan is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: How do you respond to a negative statement?

    Thanks Bobk . Sorry for not providing the context. I watched this cooking programme long time ago. One of the judges said something like 'it wasn't done very well'. Then another judge responded by saying 'yeah'. It seemed to me that the second judge agreed with the first. This conversation just left me wondering for a long time what the second judge meant. Now does it mean that the second judge disagreed with the first? My apologies again for perhaps not making it clearer.

  4. #4
    RonBee's Avatar
    RonBee is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: How do you respond to a negative statement?

    A: That wasn't done very well.
    B: Yeah. (Yeah, that's right. It wasn't.)


  5. #5
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: How do you respond to a negative statement?

    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee View Post
    A: That wasn't done very well.
    B: Yeah. (Yeah, that's right. It wasn't.)

    That's presumably the meaning, given the context. But in an exam (and indeed, in normal speech - as used in the UK) it would be

    A: That wasn't done very well.
    B: No. [It wasn't.]

    In some languages (like Japanese) the response to a negative statement is a response to the truth value of the statement: NOT -> Yes, not. But not in Br Eng.

    Of course, in a hectic and time-pressured context such as a TV broadcast (particularly a broadcast of a practical demo that may go wrong), people just blurt out whatever feels most emotionally appropriate: agreement -> "Yeah."


  6. #6
    alexchan is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: How do you respond to a negative statement?

    Thanks BobK and RonBee. That really helps clear things up.

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