About a month ago, I read an article (or heard something on the radio) about the pervasiveness of the “no, yes” and “yes, no” expression in Australian English, and how in an inversion of what usually happens, this expression has started infecting American English.
I have hardly any recollection of the article, if it was indeed an article. If someone could locate it for me, I would be eternally grateful.
After receiving that information, I started paying attention to these expressions. I realize that I say this, my co-workers at Vodafone say it, even my Dad says it (but not my Mum, but she's hardly ever uses colloquialisms in her speech).
It’s a great new mystery. Logically, “no, yes” and its variants means absolutely nothing, just as the sum of +1 and -1 equals zero. Could it be that saying, “yeah, no” means indecisiveness or only very tentative agreement or disagreement? Maybe but somehow I doubt it.
My thought is that “no … yeah” is like saying “umm” or “uh”. A kind of meaningless padding that’s used in spoken language. It’s not usually used deliberately.