|Abstract: ||The monograph is devoted to the topic of language expressions which function in Polish as
self-standing answers to decision questions. In terms of research material, the work does not restrict
it to a single selected period, but rather obtains it from various epochs, since the paramount
purpose of the presented research is to describe the dynamics of language development, and
therefore assigning particular language facts to corresponding historical periods is here of a lesser
significance. What is the most important here is searching for certain patterns along with historical
justifications facilitating a functional shift in uttering of a given expression (e.g. naturalnie
(adverb) > naturalnie (particle) > naturalnie (self-standing answer to a decision question)). The
purpose of the presented investigations is eliciting expressions which appear in the function of
self-standing answers to decision questions, defining their relation with homonymous forms occurring
in other functions, and identifying the historical sources of their contemporary semantic
values. Moreover, the attempts are made to indicate mechanisms of creating new expressions
with a polar answer function.
The work’s structure is entirely derivative of the semantic criterion, therefore, the language
units/expressions which are subsequently discussed include: units/expressions which answer
decision questions, express disagreement or lack of consent, or negate the content expressed by
preceding decision question (Chapter III); then there are discussed units/expressions which stand
as autonomous expressions of agreement/consent or an affirmative answer to a decision question
(Chapter IV). The final research material-based chapter (V) describes the units which express
various degree of the interlocutor’s unsureness in relation to a question asked. The semantics of
the sequences under analysis is encapsulated by the following paralocutions [phrases expressing
analogous content]: ‘yes, I agree with what my interlocutor has said’ / ‘yes, I confirm what my
interlocutor has said’ or ‘no, I do not agree / no, I do not confirm’; in the case of units expressing
unsureness, the generalised meaning is the following: ‘the unsureness (of a judgement) in relation
to the question asked by another participant of a dialogue (the previous speaker)’. The research
material-based chapters have been designed according to similar pattern, so that a reader can
compare both historical and lexicographic knowledge related to the topic of expressions selected
for description with the conducted interpretations.
I approach the development of a new function as a kind of functional derivation. The material
gathered testifies to the fact that in many cases a polar answer function is created based on
a particle which, in turn, is derived from a homonymous adverb (e.g. oczywiście, absolutnie). The transitions of the said kind are sometimes accompanied by mechanism visible in surface
structure, that is, ellipsis and composition. The former is among others represented by być może
> może, as illustrated by the following examples:
Miałby pan kłopoty, prawda? Być może. Kloss nie tracił spokoju.
Co, miałaś wizje religijne? – Może.
While an example of composition as a mechanism resulting in expressions with a polar
answer function are contemporary colloquial answers to decision questions, for instance:
Czy jak się spotykasz z przyjaciółmi, to oferujesz im granie na konsoli? No raczej.
Gorzałka. Chcesz? No chyba.
The point of departure for the provided descriptions of answers to decision questions
is always semantics, yet complemented with pragmatic information in accordance with the
cumulative pragmatic theory. The foregoing assumption mainly necessitates referring to the
semantic values of particles which have become a basis of a polar answer function’s development.
Epistemic particles are naturally predisposed to this aim, since they comment upon epistemic
acts, that is, operate within the realm of knowledge. In the case of answer to decision questions,
so a answer that occurs in a dialogue, it is necessary to specify that such a commentary, which
conveys the sender’s information regarding the level of sureness, in fact refers to a question from
the dialogue. This very reservation bars some of the epistemic particles from becoming polar
answers. Since an interrogative sentence is neither a sentence in the understanding of logic, nor
is it a judgement, answers to decision questions may, therefore, originate from both the particles
implying that a given state of affairs is actual (e.g. na pewno) and from the particles devoid of the
mentioned feature (e.g. chyba). However, particles implying factuality of a given judgement may
not be, for the reasons already stated, basis for polar answers (e.g. faktycznie). Also units which,
from today’s point of view, qualify as instances of meta-textual commentary, constitute bases for
their usage as polar answers (e.g. ba).|