For example, let's say a teacher asks a student why they didn't turn in their homework and the student responds by saying "My dog ate my homework." What would it be called when the teacher repeats "Your dog ate your homework?", "Your dog ate your homework" immediately answering her own question by restating what had been said.

1 Answer 1


There are various terms for this. If you're looking for a single word, the best choice is a repeat or an echo. It can also be called a disbelief repeat (in the particular context of expressing disbelief) or more generally an echo sentence.

Such sentences are called disbelief repeats in David, G.C., Trainum, J. (2019). Disbelief Repeats as Deception Tagging: Conversational Strategies for Labeling Perceived Deception in Interrogation. In: Docan-Morgan, T. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Deceptive Communication . Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-96334-1_37. This is probably the most precise term, as it expresses both the repetition and the disbelief.

The term repeat for a repetition of a sentence is used in Communicating about pain: how repeating a patient’s answer gives patients a no-pressure opportunity to tell you more, Laura Jenkins, Ruth Parry, Marco Pino, Real Talk. This is a text about how to talk to patients in a medical context. Example of use: "Communication training and guidance advises practitioners that repeating what patients say shows the patient that the practitioner is listening. But in fact, repeats are deceptively sophisticated and complex devices that can do all sorts of things."

The term echo is used by Richard C. DeArmond in linguistics course notes online at Echoes and Disbelief, Linguistics 322, Simon Fraser University, Canada. "An echo sentence is a sentence that repeats a previous sentence usually denoting disbelief, incredulity, or unexpected surprise."

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