Tuesday, July 21, 2020

A special place is reserved in purgatory...

... for all clients who answer questions which require a choice between two alternatives with a simple “yes”

For example:

Question: In the sentence “Blah blah blah XYZ blah blah”, does “XYZ” mean “ABC” or does it mean “DEF”, instead?
Answer: Yes

The only thing answers such as this tell me is that the client hasn’t bothered reading the question properly.

A correct answer to the above could be “ABC”, it could be “DEF”, or it could even be “Neither: it means GHI”.

But “yes” is never a correct answer to a question that asks which of two proposed alternatives is correct.


  1. shalom brestickerWednesday, July 22, 2020

    The comment of a logician: Of course it is a correct answer. If you ask whether it means ABC or DEF, then "yes" means "It means one of them; it does not mean GHI." If you want to know which of them it means, then you have to ask which of them it means.

    1. Pregmatics, though, overcomes logic in natural languages. So, for example, if X asks Y: "can you pass me the salt?", it should be clear to both speakers (if they are competent speakers, without any linguistic disorder) that the request is about performing an action, not about the ability to perform an action. Logically, the answer should be yes/no, but, pragmatically, the question should trigger an action and X should have the salt in her/his hands in no time. Too many times clients overlook specific questions and it can be frustrating, especially when one has to spend precious time formulating the question in a way it cannot be misunderstood or misinterpreted. I am with you, Riccardo. They deserve Purgatory!


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