Yes/No systems

This is a small page I threw together aimed at giving a brief overview of the different systems used to express equivalents of the words yes and no.

Two-Form languages

A two-form language has two words for yes and no. One for a positive answer, and one for a negative one. Languages include English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Hungarian and Greek.

Three-Form languages

Three-form languages have three words, two for yes, and one for no. The two words for yes are distinguished by whether they answer a positive or negative question. Three-form langauges include German, Scandinavian, Icelandic and French.

Four-Form languages

Four-form languages have two words for yes, and two for no. They are distinguished by whether both the question and the answer is positive or negative. Examples include Early Modern English and Romanian.

Agreement languages

In an agreement language the important distinction is not whether the answer is positive or negative, but rather agreement with the question stated. Roughly, in these languages, yes can be exchanged for "That's correct" and no for "That's not correct". Agreement languages include Japanese, Russian and Tok Pisin.

Echo languages

An echo language is a language that doesn't use specific words for yes and no, but rather restates the main verb of the question. Some echo languages do have words for yes and no as well, but their usage is usually quite restricted compared to non-echo languages. Echo languages include Mandarin, Finnish, Latin and Welsh.
© september 2009 by Aszev