Okay, full disclosure: I know that this kind of feature is not for everyone, but I had to post anyway. This one goes out to all of the love seat linguists that are fascinated by the quirks and evolving history of the English language. A few days ago I came across this piece from The New Yorker. "What Part of 'No, Totally' Don’t You Understand?" delves into the semi-recent language phenomenon of "no" increasingly "yes."
Think about how many times you hear the following:
"No, for sure."
"Yeah, not even."
As it turns out English used to have two different types of 'nos' - no and nay- and two different types of 'yes' - yes and yea. Schulz postulates that with the shift to just one type of no and yes might have led us to adopt the quirky no-as-yes construction.
It's a long, nerdy read but I loved it.
For those curious but in a rush, the fine folks at NPR's All Things Considered interviewed the writer of the piece, Kathryn Schulz. You can listen to the interview here.