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In this paper, we compare practices of formulating responses to requests for confirmation oriented toward confirmation but doing less or more than that in German and Yurakaré (isolate, Bolivia). The German particle joa is identified as a versatile resource for navigating the functional spectrum of such responses, being deployed for less than confirming in terms of epistemic or propositional downgrading, and for more than confirming in terms of addressing terms of questions or a confirmable’s valence. When exercising these specific tasks, speakers of Yurakaré, in contrast, rely mostly on repetitional strategies, while a highly specialised particle constitutes an ‘escape strategy’ when a repeat would convey unwanted implications. We propose that doing less and more than confirming is contingent on a more fundamental distinction: a preference for particles (German) vs. repeats (Yurakaré) in the realm of plain confirmation, which carries over to responses doing less and more than confirming.

Open Access
In: Contrastive Pragmatics