Below is a dialogue from the film "The Invitation" (2015):

– Hey, no one cares what I think?

– No.

– Come on, really?

– No.

What is the meaning of the second "No"? Is it negation of "really?" und thus - "no, not really, there are actually people who care what you think". Or is it "no, no one cares what you think" - repetition of the first "no"?

  • 1
    "Really?" in the context of this exchange can means "Do you really (truthfully) mean what you just said? Please answer the original question again." – Tᴚoɯɐuo Aug 1 '17 at 14:42
  • How do we know what the speaker meant by his second No? Perhaps it was short for No, I was just kidding when I answered "No" the first time. Of course we all care what you think. – FumbleFingers Aug 1 '17 at 17:26
  • @FumbleFingers: Unless he or she is perverse, if the person who is responding to the question in OP's example wanted to clarify (i.e. to say that the reverse of what has been understood is actually the truth), the same word "No" wouldn't simply be repeated, as that would clarify nothing. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Aug 1 '17 at 18:57
  • @FumbleFingers How do you know what your counterparts mean when you speak with them? – Drossel Aug 1 '17 at 20:36
  • 2
    Native speakers of any language (perhaps even Deutsch!) know what their counterparts mean when they speak with them because they have acquired the language naturally; there are subtle cues in intonation, facial expression, and gesture that are obvious to the native speaker and opaque to the non-native speaker. Time and experience will help. Here, the first no is an affirmation of the statement to which it is a response, and the second no ignores the interjection and affirms it again. Both noes are yesses, in other words. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Aug 1 '17 at 22:38

The second question merely asks the question again to perhaps identify sarcasm in the original answer or to express disbelief by the asker.

"Come on, really? [Were you perhaps joking? No one cares what I think?]"

"No, in all truthfulness, they do not."

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.