Q19ANegQ_Truth-based confirmation

Untitled Document Consider the following conversation carried out in your language:
  • Interlocutor A says to B: "You told me earlier that your brother was going to Paris. But I think I just saw him. Did he not go to Paris after all?"
What does B answer if his brother didn't go (because he changed his mind)? Does he say "No", meaning that he didn't go, or does he say "Yes", meaning that he didn't go?

This property has the value 'yes' if, in the context provided above, B says "Yes " confirming that the negative alternative is true: He didn't go.

A 'yes' value for this property is compatible with a 'yes' value for Q20.


  1. English is 'yes' for this property, but the assignment is tricky. Clearly in this context B could answer:
    • No
    Many (but not all) speakers also allow a 'yes' answer here, (often leading to confusion. Therefore English is 'yes' even though 'yes' is not the most 'natural'answer.

  2. Kannada has the value 'no' for this property, since in the context provided, B would answer:
    • illa (hoog-al-illa)
      no (go-INF-not)
  3. Cantonese Chinese has the value 'yes' for this property, since in the context provided, B would answer:
    • hai (mou-heoi-dou)
      yes (NEG-go-PRF)
Contributed by: Anders Holmberg and Craig Sailor
Language Value Contributor Comments
+ Afrikaans Yes Theresa Biberauer
  Words: A: Het jou broer toe nie gegaan nie? B: Ja (hy het toe nie)
  Gloss: A: have your brother then (modal particle) not go.PST.PTCP NEG B: Yes he have then (mod.part) not
  Translation: A: Didn't your brother go in the end? B: Yes (he didn't)
  Comment: Both "Yes" (truth-based) and "No" (polarity-based) answers are possible here, although speakers prefer "No" where there is no continuation. In fact, the use of "Yes" in isolation will almost certainly result in confusion if it isn't accompanied by some form of disambiguating intonation or other paratactic device which the hearer can draw on to expand "Yes" in the required way. Truth-based confirmation is perfectly acceptable where a speaker continues, but it is definitely not the default option here.
  Contributor: Theresa Biberauer
+ Albanian NA Dalina Kallulli
  Words: Q: Nuk ka ardhur Ana? A: ?Po *(, nuk ka ardhur)
  Gloss: Q: not has come Ann-the(NOM) A: Yes, not has come
  Translation: Q: Has Ann not come? A: Yes (she has not come)
  Comment: Ticky! Therefore set as NA inmeantime. A 'yes' answer requires a continuation (i.e. 'has not come').
  Contributor: Dalina Kallulli
+ Amharic Yes Girma Demeke
  Words: A. kasa al-mätt'a-m? B. awo al-mätt'a-m
  Gloss: K. neg-comePFV.3ms-neg yes neg-comePFV.3ms-neg
  Translation: A. 'Did not Kasa come?' B. 'No he didn't', lit. 'yes, he didn't''
  Contributor: Girma Demeke
   Ancient Greek NA Cristina Guardiano
   Arabic, Gulf No Dimitrios Ntelitheos
   Armenian (Eastern) Yes Sona Haroutyunian
+ Bafut Yes Pius Tamanji
  Words: mfɔ̀ wá kɨ̀ nó mɨ̀lù’ù? Answer: ɨ̀ɨ̀ŋə́
  Gloss: chief the PST drink wine
  Translation: Did the chief drink wine ? Yes
  Contributor: Pius Tamanji
  Words: kaa mfɔ̀ wá kɨ̀ wa'a mɨ̀lù’ù no? Answer: ɨ̀ɨ̀ŋə́, (kaa mfɔ̀ wá kɨ̀ wa'a mɨ̀lù’ù no)
  Gloss: Neg chief the PST Neg wine drink Q Answer: Yes Neg chief the PST Neg wine drink
  Translation: Did the chief not drink wine? Yes (he dd not)
  Contributor: Hilda Koopman
   Bandial Yes Wolfgang Berndt
+ Basaa Yes Paul Roger Bassong
  Words: Q: ɓàá mudaá a-ŋ-kɛ̀ há ɓéé í ɓom ɛ A: tɔ̀ (proᵢ aᵢ- ŋ-kɛ̀ há ɓéé)
  Gloss: Q: Q woman SM-PST1-go há NEG LOC market Q A: no pro SM-PST1-go ha NEG
  Translation: Q: ‘Did the woman not go to the market?’ A: ‘No’ lit. No she didn’t go to the market’
  Comment: Note that the parenthetical sentence is optional. Also, as can be seen, the particle há occurring in-between the intransitive kɛ́ ‘go’ and sentential negation ɓéé has no English equivalent. But note that this particle is always used alongside the sentential negation marker when an action was expected to have been accomplished, but did not. The direct equivalent of hɑ́ ɓéé in French is ‘ne plus’.
  Contributor: Paul Roger Bassong
  Words: Maaŋgɛ́ a-ḿ-pɔ́t há ɓéé púlɑsí
  Gloss: child SM-PRS-speak ha NEG F.
  Translation: ‘The child does not speak French any more (before he used to speak French, but now, he does not speak it again’
  Comment: One can speculate that the particle ha is an anti-perfective or anti-continuative marker.
  Contributor: Paul Roger Bassong
  Words: Q: ɓàá mudaá a-ŋ-kɛ̀ há ɓéé í ɓom ɛ A: ŋŋ́ (proᵢ aᵢ- ŋ-kɛ̀ há ɓéé)
  Gloss: Q: Q woman SM-PST1-go há NEG LOC market Q A: yes pro SM-PST1-go há NEG
  Translation: Q: ‘Did the woman not go to the market?’ A: ‘Yes’ lit. Yes, she didn’t go to the market’
  Comment: Again, note that property Q19 can also applies in an alternative fashion, even though the most natural answer to a negative polar question is negative. In the following example, a negative polar question can be answered positively. Note that the parenthetical sentence is optional.
  Contributor: Paul Roger Bassong
   Calabrian (Northern) No Giuseppina Silvestri
+ Cantonese (Guangzhou) Yes Zixian Qiu
  Words: Q: Mary mou faanhok me? A: hai (mou faanhok) (aa).
  Gloss: Q: Mary NEG go-school Q? A: be (NEG go-school) (PRT)
  Translation: Q: Did Mary not go to school? A: Yes (she did not go to school).
  Comment: It is more natural and more frequent to attach the sentence final particle (in contrast with Q20 where the answer is natural without the sentence final particle)
  Contributor: Zixian Qiu
   Catalan No Victoria Mateu
   Chickasaw No Pam Munro
   Cypriot Greek No Marios Andreou
   Danish No Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
   Dutch No Hilda Koopman
   English (Singapore) No Adam Chong
   Faroese No Hjalmar Páll Petersen
   Finnish No Anders Holmberg
   French No Vincent Homer A bare "yes" answer to the question "il n'est pas parti finalement ?" (he did not leave after all?) is unacceptable. If there is a continuation, it becomes acceptable, ex.: "Oui, il n'est pas parti" (yes, he did not leave). It bears also saying that the form of the question (with or without a Q marker, with or without complex inversion, etc.) is important.
   galician No Naír García
   georgian Yes Lea Nash
   German No Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
+ Greek Yes Giorgos Spathas
  Words: Q: Dhen ex-i erthi i Ana? A: Ne (, dhen exi erthi)
  Gloss: Q: not has-3.SG come the.SG.NOM Ann A: Yes not has-3.SG come
  Translation: Q: Has Ann not arrived? A: Yes (she has not arrived)
  Comment: The 'yes' answer is very marginally acceptable without the continuation.
  Contributor: Giorgos Spathas
   Greek (Cappadocian) NA Metin Bagriacik No examples in textual record
   Greek (Homer) NA Cristina Guardiano
   Greek (Medieval) No Io Manolessou
   Gungbe (Porto-Novo) No Enoch Oladé Aboh
   Haitian No Michel DeGraff
+ Hausa Yes Russell Schuh
  Words: A: Ba ka da goro B: I
  Translation: Don't you have any kolas? Yes (i.e. I don't have any)
  Contributor: Russell Schuh
   Hebrew No Ur Shlonsky
   Hebrew (Biblical) No Massimo Gargiulo
   Hungarian No Anna Szabolcsi
   Ibibio Yes Willie Willie
   Icelandic No Jim Wood
   imbabura quichua No UCLA Linguistics 210
   Italian No Adriana Belletti
   Italian (Reggiano) Yes Giovanni Roversi
   Jamaican Creole English No Stephanie Durrleman
   Japanese Yes Jun Yashima
   K'iche' Yes Pam Munro
   KiLega Yes Kasangati Kinyalolo
   Kom Yes Richard Kwamong
+ Korean Yes Shin-Sook Kim
  Words: A: Mina-ka Seoul-ey an ka-ss-ni? B: ney (an ka-ss-eyo)
  Gloss: A: Mina-NOM Seoul-to NEG go-PST-Q B: yes (NEG go-PST-DECL)
  Translation: A: Did Mina not go to Seoul? B: Yes (she didn't)
  Comment: Only "Yes" (truth-based) is possible here.
  Contributor: Shin-Sook Kim
   Kuot Yes Eva Lindström
   Kurdish (Sorani) No Yadgar Karimi
   Lao Yes Alif Silpachai
   Latin NA Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
+ Malagasy Yes Ed Keenan and Laura Kalin
  Words: Tsy tonga ve Rakoto? Eny.
  Gloss: NEG arrive Q Rakoto yes
  Translation: Did Rakoto not arrive? Yes (Rakoto didn't arrive). / Didn't Rakoto arrive? Yes (Rakoto didn't arrive).
  Contributor: Ed Keenan and Laura Kalin
   Malayalam No Mythili Menon
+ Mandarin Yes Arthur Wang
  Words: Q: Are you going? A: No.
  Gloss: Q: Mary NEG go-school Q A: be (NEG go-school) (DE)
  Translation: Q: Did Mary not go to school? A: Yes (she did not go to school).
  Contributor: Zixian Qiu
   Moroccan Arabic Yes Arwa Rangwala
   Muyang Yes Bebey Théodore
   Nahuatl (Central Huasteca) Yes John Garcia
   Nkore-Kiga Yes Arwa Rangwala
   Northern Thai Yes Alif Silpachai
   Norwegian No Marit Julien
+ Nupe Yes Jason Kandybowicz
  Words: Speaker A: Wo: gan ya mi: le ganan yegi wo: lo Bida. Gbani mi: le u: ye abo. Ngba wun lo Bida a? Speaker B: Eba.
  Gloss: Speaker A: 2.sg say give 1.sg earlier COMP brother 2.sg go Bida. Now 1.sg see 3.sg eye here. Q 3.sg go Bida NEG
  Translation: Speaker A: You told me earlier that your brother went to Bida. Now I see him here. Did he not go to Bida? Speaker B: Yes (meaning "he did not go to Bida").
  Contributor: Jason Kandybowicz
   Nweh Yes Hilda Koopman
   Old English NA Willem Koopman Not sure any examples can be found in the surviving data
   Old Saxon NA George Walkden No examples in textual record.
   Portuguese No Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
   Romanian Yes Monica Alexandrina Irimia
   Russian No Denis Paperno
   Shan Yes Alif Silpachai
   Shupamem No Abdoulaye Laziz Nchare
   Sicilian No Cristina Guardiano
   Spanish No Victoria Mateu
   Swedish No fredrik heinat
   Taiwanese Southern Min Yes Arthur Wang
   Teramano No Iara Mantenuto
   Thai Yes Alif Silpachai
   Tuki (Tukombo) Yes Edmond Biloa
   Tupi (Ancient) No Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
   Turkish Not Yet Set Deniz Ozyildiz
   Twi No Cansada Martin
   Vata Yes Hilda Koopman
+ Vietnamese Yes Jimmy Nguyen
  Words: Anh không mua sách này à? / Ừ.
  Gloss: You NEG buy book DEM EMPHASIS? / Yeah.
  Translation: You didn't buy this book? / Yes (I didn't buy it).
  Contributor: Jimmy Nguyen
   Western Armenian Yes Hrayr Khanjian
   Wolof No Mariame Sy
   Wuhu Chinese Yes Zhuo Chen
   Yémba No Elsie Mawamba
+ Zamboageño Chabacano Yes Grace Gaspardo
  Words: A: Nuay ba le porsigi? B: Si (nuay le anda).
  Gloss: A: NEG Q 3SG proceed B: yes (NEG 3SG go)
  Translation: A: Did he not go through with it? B: Yes (he didn't go).
  Contributor: Grace Gaspardo