Q21ANegQ_Polarity-reversing particle

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Q21ANegQ_Polarity-reversing particle

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 his car. Did he not go to Paris after all?"
How does B answer if he wants to say that his brother DID go to Paris, contradicting the negative expectation of the question? Does the language use a special affirmative particle in this context?

The property polarity reversing particle has the value 'yes' if there is a special particle which is used to give a minimal contradicting answer to a negative question (i.e. reverse the negative polarity of the question to a positive one in the answer).

A 'yes' value for this property is compatible with a 'yes' value for Q22A.


  1. German has the value 'yes' for this property. Compare the answer to the neutral (non-negative, positive) question and the negative question:
    • Neutral question: spricht er Deutsch
        speaks he German
        "Does he speak German?"
      Answer: ja
      Negative question: spricht er kein Deutsch
        speaks he not German
        "Doesn't he speak German?"
      Answer:   doch      
          "Yes (he does speak German"
      Answer: * ja      
          (intended: "Yes (he does speak German)")
  2. English has the value 'no' for this property, as there is no special particle used to contradict the negative expectation of the question. Instead, the usual affirmative answer particle can be used (preferably accompanied by a specification). Alternatively the usual negative answer particle can be used for this purpose, if followed by a specification:
    • Neutral question: Did he go to Paris?
    • Answer: Yes (he did).

    • Negative question: Did he not go to Paris after all?
    • Answer: Yes, he did.
    • Answer: No, he did.
Contributed by: Anders Holmberg and Craig Sailor
Language Value Contributor Comments
   Afrikaans No Theresa Biberauer
+ Albanian Yes Dalina Kallulli
  Words: Q: Nuk ka ardhur Ana? A: (Po) si jo (, ka ardhur.)
  Gloss: Q: not has come Ann-the(NOM) A: (but) how no (has come)
  Translation: Q: Has Ann not come. A: Yes (she has come).
  Comment:   the initial 'po' in the answer actually means 'but', not 'yes' in this case (it is a shortened form of 'por' which means 'but') and is only optional, as is the continuation (i.e. 'has come')
  Contributor: Dalina Kallulli
   Amharic No Girma Demeke
   Ancient Greek No Richard Faure
   Arabic, Gulf No Dimitrios Ntelitheos
   Armenian (Eastern) No Sona Haroutyunian
   Bafut No Pius Tamanji
   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)
  Gloss: Q: Q woman SM-PST1-go há NEG LOC market Q A: no pro SM-PST1-go
  Translation: Q: ‘Did the woman not go to the market?’ A: ‘No’ lit. No he DID go’
  Comment: In this context only a ‘NO’ answer is felicitous. However, the negative particle alone is ruled out. In other words, the negative particle must be followed by the whole sentence for confirmation purposes if not the answer will be tricky (embarrassing/ambiguous) A positive answer is completely ruled out as can be seen here.
  Contributor: Paul Roger Bassong
  Words: Q: ɓàá mudaá a-ŋ-kɛ̀ há ɓéé í ɓom ɛ A: *ŋ̀ŋ́ (proᵢ aᵢ- ŋ-kɛ̀)
  Gloss: Q: Q woman SM-PST1-go há NEG LOC market Q A: yes pro SM-PST1-go
  Translation: Q: 'Did the woman not go to the market?' A: *'Yes lit. No he DID go'
  Comment: This example shows that a positive answer is ruled out in the same context.
  Contributor: Paul Roger Bassong
   Calabrian (Northern) No Giuseppina Silvestri
   Cantonese (Guangzhou) No Zixian Qiu
   Catalan No Victoria Mateu
   Chickasaw No Pam Munro
   Cypriot Greek No Marios Andreou
   Danish Yes Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
   Dutch No Hilda Koopman
   English No Craig Sailor
   English (Singapore) No Adam Chong
   Faroese Yes Hjalmar Páll Petersen the particle is 'jú' /jyu:/
   Finnish No Anders Holmberg
   French Yes Vincent Homer
   galician No Naír García
   georgian Yes Lea Nash
   German Yes Viola Schmitt
+ Greek Yes Giorgos Spathas
  Words: Q: Dhen ex-i erthi i Ana? A1: *Ne. A2: Ne (, exi erthi.) A3: Ki omos.
  Gloss: Q: not has-3.SG come the.SG.NOM Ann A1: Yes A2: Yes has-3.SG come A3: And but.
  Translation: Q: Has Ann not arrived. A: Yes (she has arrived).
  Comment: A 'yes' answer requires a continuation. The polarity reversing particle 'ki omos' requires no 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 No Russell Schuh
   Hebrew No Ur Shlonsky
+ Hungarian Yes Anna Szabolcsi
  Words: De (igen), elment.
  Gloss: but (yes) away-went.3sg
  Translation: Yes, he did leave (contrary to what you are suggesting)
  Contributor: Anna Szabolcsi
  Words: De.
  Gloss: but
  Translation: yes
  Contributor: Anna Szabolcsi
   Ibibio No Willie Willie
   Icelandic Yes Jim Wood
   imbabura quichua No UCLA Linguistics 210
   Italian No Adriana Belletti
   Italian (Napoletano Antico) No Adam Ledgeway
   Italian (Reggiano) No Giovanni Roversi
   Jamaican Creole English No Stephanie Durrleman
   Japanese No Jun Yashima
   K'iche' No Pam Munro
   KiLega No Kasangati Kinyalolo
   Kom No Richard Kwamong
   Korean No Grace Lee
   Kuot No Eva Lindström
   Kurdish (Sorani) Yes Yadgar Karimi
   Latin No Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
   Latin (Late) No Chiara Gianollo
   Malagasy No Ed Keenan and Laura Kalin
   Malayalam No Mythili Menon
   Mandarin No Arthur Wang
   Marshallese No Heather Willson Sturman
   Moroccan Arabic Yes Arwa Rangwala
   Muyang No Bebey Théodore
   Norwegian Yes Marit Julien
   Nupe No Jason Kandybowicz
   Nweh No Hilda Koopman
   Old English Yes Willem Koopman
   Old Saxon NA George Walkden No examples in textual record.
   Pashto No David Pate
   Portuguese No Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
   Romanian Yes Monica Alexandrina Irimia
   Russian No Nina Radkevich
   Sandawe No Helen Eaton
   Shupamem Yes Abdoulaye Laziz Nchare
   Sicilian No Cristina Guardiano
   Spanish No Victoria Mateu
   Swedish Yes fredrik heinat
   Taiwanese Southern Min No Arthur Wang
   Teramano No Iara Mantenuto
   Tuki (Tukombo) No Edmond Biloa
   Tupi (Ancient) No Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
+ Turkish No Deniz Ozyildiz
  Words: Q: Melda Fransizca bil-me-z miy-di? A: Yoo/Yok, bilir.
  Gloss: Q: Melda French know-NEG-AOR-3S Q? A: Neg/Neg know-AOR-3S
  Translation: Q: Didn't Melda know French? A: Yes, she did.
  Comment: Bare negative particles Yoo or Yok would yield the answer "No, (Melda doesn't know French)". To get a polarity reversing answer, a particle has to be followed by further specification, minimally the verb in the appropriate form.
  Contributor: Deniz Ozyildiz
   Twi No Cansada Martin
+ Vietnamese Yes Jimmy Nguyen
  Words: Anh không mua sách này à? / Có.
  Gloss: You NEG buy book DEM EMPHASIS? / Yes.
  Translation: You didn't buy this book? / Of course, I did.
  Contributor: Jimmy Nguyen
+ West Flemish No Liliane Haegeman
  Words: Is Valère nie no Parys geweest? Ba joa-j
  Gloss: be-pres-3sg Valère not to Parys be-part. But yes-he
  Translation: Hasn't Valère been to Paris? He has!
  Comment: 'ba' = but is prefixed to the answer.
  Contributor: Liliane Haegeman
   Western Armenian No Hrayr Khanjian
   Wolof Yes Mariame Sy
   Wuhu Chinese No Zhuo Chen
   Yémba No Elsie Mawamba