Yes no found elsewhere too

Posted by Keith Rennie on December 07, 2004

In Reply to: Yes no posted by Lotg on December 07, 2004

: There has been some discussion lately in Australia re the use of 'yes no' in sentences. Usually they begin the sentences this way.

: Here's an example of how it goes: "I heard you did well in your exams last week?" "Yes no, it was a tough one, but I got through."

: The talk here is that this is purely an Australian idiosyncrasy. Is that correct?

: It is definitely a peculiar thing and I often hear replies to questions answered this way. There was a long debate over why, a few weeks ago, and the suggestion was that when people are answering the question, they're having a debate in their own minds. eg. In the case of the example above that I provided, the person is thinking, well, yes, I did well, but no, not as well as I would have liked cos it was a tough exam. And somehow that translates into one of those strange 'yes no' responses.

: So, after all that, my question is: Is this really just an Australian thing, or do people elsewhere say this too? --GODDESS

Not only Australian.

Exactly the same is found in southern Africa, in the form Yah no, . . . used among all social classes including the educated elite, and its listed in one of the larger Oxford dictionaries: Ive been searching in vain for the title and if anyone can help . . .its the authority on regional and subregional dialects across the word, organized by region and country, and I think its something like the Oxford Dictionary of International English/Commonwealth English . . .. It's an introductory filler phrase, or attention-getter, like "Well, . . ." usually followed by a slight pause and does indeed imply that the speaker is giving some thought to what they will say. Does not require a preceding question.