answers and tags

nigel Vincent nigel.vincent at MANCHESTER.AC.UK
Thu Aug 24 07:54:03 UTC 2006

A follow-up to Wolfgang's posting. By chance I had an email from Theo a 
few days ago. He is giving the latest version of his yes/no paper at 
the ICEHL conference in Bergamo tomorrow. Abstract available at:

On Thursday, August 24, 2006, at 06:53 AM, Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schulze 

> Dear Edith,
> Theo Vennemann once (2002) gave a lecture in Munich on the problem you 
> have mentioned. He discussed the typology of yes/no-answers especially 
> with respect to the distribution of patterns in Europa hypothesizing 
> that a Celtic substrat has motivated e.g. the English type of echo 
> answers that again would have caused the the echoing tag type. To 
> better account for the details from a typological perspective, it 
> would make sense to 'classify' the different tag types and see a) 
> whether their internal structure is matched in echo answers and b) 
> whether a certain type of tags necesserily calls for a specific answer 
> type. Personally, I would start from a template similar to the 
> following (surely not comprehensive):
>              Question      Answer
>  Tag     Without       1. yes/no
>                                   2. echo
>                                   2.1 Based on dummy verbs (light 
> verbs), eg. 'do, have' etc.
>                                   2.2 Based on the echoing of the full 
> verb
> Tag        Present
>               1. yes/no
>               2. only yes
>               3. only not
>               4. internal echo
>               4.1 Based on dummy verbs (light verbs) e.g. 'do, have' 
> etc.
>               4.2 Based on the echoing of the full verb
> The question internal tags should further be classified according to 
> the question wether it is negate a positive assumption / asserts a 
> negative assumption (> contradiction), or whether it matches the 
> polarity. In addition, it might be crucial to observe which 
> constituents are copied into a tag-like answer (as well into the tag 
> itself). In English, we clearly see an accusative startegy, copying S 
> and A into the answer (plus dummy verb), but 'fading out' O (nad IO 
> etc.). In ergative strategies, the oppostite may occasionally be true.
> Best wishes,
> Wolfgang
> Edith Moravcsik schrieb:
> 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.
> ?No.
> 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
> -- 
> Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schulze
> Institut fuer Allgemeine und Vergleichende Sprachwissenschaft
> Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen
> Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1
> D-80539 Muenchen
> Tel.: ++49-(0)89-2180-2486 (Sekr.)
> Tel.: ++49-(0)89-2180-5343 (Office)
> Fax : ++49-(0)89-2180-5345
> E-mail: W.Schulze at
> Web:
Professor Nigel Vincent FBA
Associate Dean Postgraduate Research, Faculty of Humanities

School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures
University of Manchester
Manchester M13 9PL
United Kingdom
Tel: +44-161-275-3194
email: nigel.vincent at

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