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Other: Echo-answer systems in diachronic perspective and Indo-European reconstruction

Prof. Dr. Olav Hackstein

There are different linguistic strategies to respond affirmatively or negatively to previous
utterances and yes/no-questions. Most prominent are three strategies: a) the use of echo-
responsives that usually involve the elliptically reduced repetition of the preceding question in
the affirmative or negative, e.g., Question: Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and
nothing but the whole truth? Answer: I do, or b) the use of responsive particles like English
Yes! or No!, or c) the mixed strategy of responsive particle plus echo-responsive as in English
You didn’t sell your house, did you? No, I didn’t. All of these strategies have been dealt with
in the secondary literature mostly from a synchronic perspective. In my contribution I intend
to add the diachronic perspective. It is possible to reconstruct the echo-answer system of type
a) for Proto-Indo-European, and to document that responsive particles of type b) often
evolved from the chunking and sedimentation of echo-responsive sentence fragments. Under

this approach it is possible to make headway inter alia regarding the diachronic and
etymological explanation of negative responsives in some Indo-European languages.


Day: 2019-11-30
Start time: 10:00
Duration: 01:00
Room: Schellingstr. 3 S001




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