“sorry.” “yeah...”

halbert

Member
Mandarin Chinese, Shanghai Dialect
I forget to confirm this yesterday.
In daily conversation, when I stamp on someone else's feet incidentally, I say "Oh, sorry about that." and the other party reply "Err, err, err, yeah!"
What's behind the word "yeah"?
Literally I take it as "Yeah, you should be sorry."
Still does it also have another hidden meaning tagging along like "Yeah, you should be sorry. (But it's all right./ But never mind.)"
 
  • Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    "Yeah!" is not a normal reply to "I'm sorry." I'd probably have to actually hear their tone of voice to even have a clue.
    (You stomp on someone's foot accidentally every day? No wonder they say unintelligible things to you.)
     

    JustKate

    Moderate Mod
    It's impossible to say without hearing the tone of voice and so on, but it probably doesn't mean "You should be sorry." It probably just means the person couldn't think of anything to say because his foot hurt ;), but it might mean "Yes, I understand that you're sorry." "That's all right" is a pretty good interpretation, too.
     

    Cenzontle

    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    "Stamp" and "stomp" both mean to bring your foot down intentionally and forcefully on something. It's no accident.
    What I imagine you do is to step on someone's foot accidentally (on a crowded bus, for example).


    I would not say "Oh, sorry about that." I probably would say just "Oh, sorry" (they will know what it's about:)).
    If you do a websearch for "sorry about that" and "Vietnam" simultaneously,
    you will find that that phrase was popular with American military men in Southeast Asia in the 1960s and 70s.
    It had the form of an apology, but it included a sarcastic, ironic tone as if to say "It's not really my fault."
    I don't know what kind of English-speakers you are talking to,
    and maybe it's an issue only with American men old enough to have fought in Vietnam.
    In any event, I think "Sorry!" is sufficient.
    As for "Yeah", I agree with JustKate: probably the person couldn't think of anything to say.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    The normal response to an apology in a situation like that, in my experience, is "That's okay, no harm done," or "No problem".

    (Of course if the person with the stomped-on foot has suffered several fractured toes, there is a problem, and it's a different situation.)
     

    halbert

    Member
    Mandarin Chinese, Shanghai Dialect
    You taught me a lot.
    "accidentally" is absolutely better, but does "incidentally" really not make sense?
    "incidentally" also has the meaning of "in a way that was not planned, but as a result of something else". e.g. Quite incidentally, I got some useful information at the party.

    "Stamp" and "stomp" both mean to bring your foot down intentionally and forcefully on something. It's no accident.
    What I imagine you do is to step on someone's foot accidentally (on a crowded bus, for example).


    I would not say "Oh, sorry about that." I probably would say just "Oh, sorry" (they will know what it's about:)).
    If you do a websearch for "sorry about that" and "Vietnam" simultaneously,
    you will find that that phrase was popular with American military men in Southeast Asia in the 1960s and 70s.
    It had the form of an apology, but it included a sarcastic, ironic tone as if to say "It's not really my fault."
    I don't know what kind of English-speakers you are talking to,
    and maybe it's an issue only with American men old enough to have fought in Vietnam.
    In any event, I think "Sorry!" is sufficient.
    As for "Yeah", I agree with JustKate: probably the person couldn't think of anything to say.
     

    srk

    Senior Member
    English - US
    halbert said:
    "accidentally" is absolutely better, but does "incidentally" really not make sense?
    "incidentally" also has the meaning of "in a way that was not planned, but as a result of something else". e.g. Quite incidentally, I got some useful information at the party.
    "Incidentally" means "By the way," or "This isn't what I was talking about originally, but I wanted you to know." That doesn't correspond to what you said in the OP. Stepping on someone's foot was the focus of your story. It was also the focus of what happened between you and the other person. It was not an incidental part of your encounter. It turned out to be the most important part. (Unless I misunderstand.)
     
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