A simple da? Affirming responses to polar questions in Russian conversation

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This article examines affirming answers to polar (yes/no) questions in Russian, that is, responses that confirm or agree with the propositional content of the question. Drawing on a corpus of telephone conversations and using the methodology of Conversation Analysis, I analyze question-answer sequences that are initiated by polar interrogatives whose focal action is to seek information or confirmation of a particular state of affairs. In Russian, a simple affirmation can be accomplished via either a response token (da ‘yes’ or net ‘no’) or a repetition of the question's focal element (“echo repeat”). The article first examines responses that simply affirm the informational content of the question. Then, I analyze three ways in which affirmative responses may resist the question: by conveying an incongruent evaluative stance, an incongruent epistemic stance, or by disattending its action implications. This article sheds light on the organization of questioning and answering in Russian conversation and advances our understanding of agreement as a social action more generally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40-58
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


  • Agreement
  • Conversation analysis
  • Epistemics
  • Polar interrogatives
  • Prosody
  • Russian

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