Lexicon Valley Dissects the Phrase “Yeah, No…”

A show about the mysteries of English.
June 10 2013 3:05 PM

Does “Yeah, No …” Mean Yes or No (or Both)?

Listen to Slate’s podcast about the seemingly paradoxical phrase and its hidden logic.

Listen to Lexicon Valley Episode No. 27: Accentuate the Positive

If the goal of communication is to be clear and easily understood, then the increasingly common phrase “Yeah, no …” would seem an unfortunate trend. Does it mean yes? Does it mean no? Could it possibly mean both? In fact, according to research by a couple of Australian linguists, “yeah, no” (and its less popular sibling “yes, no”) has a hidden logic all its own and can be used in a number of discrete ways. Listen to Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo dissect a construction that appears to be contradictory but is actually quite useful.

You'll find every Lexicon Valley episode at slate.com/lexiconvalley, or in the player below:

Send your thoughts about the show to slatelexiconvalley@gmail.com.