Responses to questions can provide significant insight about linguistic structure and meaning. In this paper, I propose an analysis of the structure of assertions and various responses to assertions, bringing together semantic and syntactic considerations. The analysis incorporates a Speech Act Phrase (SAP, Speas & Tenny 2003), which is taken to encode illocutionary force. I present novel data on a polar response particle (PRP) form that has not yet been considered in the literature, namely, the English yeah-huh/nuh-uh responses. I show that these are polarity-based responses that signal disagreement and mirativity. I discuss the syntactic and discourse-related restrictions for yeah-huh/nuh-uh, and defend an analysis that includes polarity features in Agree-relations, and illocutionary force in SAP. I argue that these PRPs contain a speech act modifier which contributes mirativity to a speech act reject.
Martinez, Randi. 2023. Mirativity in English response particles: An analysis from the syntax/semantics interface. Yale Working Papers in Grammatical Diversity 5 (3), 1–25.