answers and tags

Edith Moravcsik edith at UWM.EDU
Wed Aug 23 15:46:07 UTC 2006

Last April, there was an extended discussion on LINGTYP about the kinds of answers to yes-no questions that different languages use.

It would be interesting to see how the types of answers relate to the types of tags in tag questions. There appears to be some correlation. Thus, in English, a simple "yes" or "no" is not a "full answer" to a yes-no question, nor do they serve as tags - at least not in the standard varieties. Ex:

Have you eaten dinner?
No, I haven't.

You have eaten dinner, haven't you?
?You have eaten dinner, no?

In Hungarian on the other hand, simple 'yes' or 'no' serves as an answer; 'no' can also be a tag but 'yes' cannot.


Edith A. Moravcsik
Professor of Linguistics
Department of Foreign
     Languages and Linguistics
University of Wisconsin-
Milwaukee, WI 53201-0413

E-mail: edith at
Tel: (414) 229-6794
Fax: (414) 229-2741
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