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According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yes_and_no#The_Early_English_four-form_system, 'yes' and 'no' used to be for answering negatively phrased questions. 'Yea' and 'nay' were used for the positive.


I know this is two words but a typical answer would be oh yes. This gives emphasis. Also, the tone of voice would be more emphatic.


To your question regarding there being so many words for "why" in German: There are actually 5 that I can think of in German, the two others are weswegen and wozu. There are two things to point out: only "warum" is not a compound word. The rest are formed by combining more basic question words with prepositions. English has compound question words as well, ...


English how is indeed an irregularity in the row of question words that all with the exception of how have the initial spelling wh, but the pronunciation is either /w/ as in what, where, when or /h/ as in who, how. It seems to be a bit difficult to explain the spelling and pronunciation of how as etymonline and the Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology ...


English has—twice—gone through a phonetic change that has caused some upheaval in these pronouns. The initial consonant Originally, all of them (in Proto-Germanic) started with /ʍ/, that is, an unvoiced /w/. This is still found in some English dialects today; in Ireland and Scotland, for example, most people pronounce ‘wile (away the time)’ as [waɪl], but ...

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