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Hi all. A statement in English can be implied to be a question by speaking with a rising inflection. For ... of nodding the head meaning yes. Speakers of Zapotec, Xhosa, Bua, Erzya, and Ga may be able to help. Stupot

Are you acquainted with the rising inflection of questions in statements in AmE? For example, some sweet young thing might introduce herself to you by saying: "My name is Janet Smith?" "Well, who said it wasn't?" is not how you're supposed to reply. Have you run across this use of rising inflection in any other language?
Regards, WB.
Come to think of it, the words "did you" at ... (Is this suggestion acceptable?) Counterexamples, anyone? Today's English only, please.

So far, the only counterexample I can think of would be using 'Should we...', where 'Should we...' is replacing 'If we...'. "Should we go by train instead of car, we will be late."

Good one.
But it seems British. Would it ever occur in American English?
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So far, the only counterexample I can think of would ... go by train instead of car, we will be late."

Good one. But it seems British. Would it ever occur in American English?

It's now very formal even in BrE.
Anyway, I've come up with a couple more exceptions for you.

(1) Imperatives, where the substantive is the object.

Get this approved and forwarded to the relevant departments by Monday.
(2 related to the above in that they are, at first sight at least, imperatives) Threats and warnings of the "do X and Y will happen" type.
Turn this picture down and you'll never work in this town again!
(3 a bit like the "should" one, in that it's an archaic/formal conditional of sorts, and sometimes found in set phrases:

Be he alive or be he dead, I'll grind his bones to make my bread!
Come rain or come shine . . . .
Come what may . . . .
So, here's a suggested rewording:
Any modal verb (except "should") followed by a
substantive phrase at the beginning of an utterance invariably signals a question.
This is the sort of thing that makes advanced-level EFL teaching (and, I imagine, learning) so frustrating; you have to spend five times as long on the pernickity exceptions as you do on the rules.

Ross Howard
Come to think of it, the words "did you" at the beginning of an utterance signal that what follows is ... at the beginning of an utterance invariably signals a question. (Is this suggestion acceptable?) Counterexamples, anyone? Today's English only, please.

Wot you on abaht? Called inversion innit?
I suppose the first English Georges, making what appeared to a flunkey to be a kingly (and unintelligible) statement, and puzzled by the following silence, hit on "what" as an end marker as a means of ensuring a reply. It's said one of 'em doubled it to make really sure.
Just recently I was listening to some Singapore English speakers, and was interested to notice that a question was indicated ... a level tone. Certainly it's not rising.) It was quite a surprise to hear it as an import into English.

I've heard a similar word from Hawaiian friends "na" instead of "ma."

SML
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Are you acquainted with the rising inflection of questions in statements in AmE? For example, some sweet young thing might introduce herself to you by saying: "My name is Janet Smith?"

I think that the only time I'd be likely to use that inflection is if there is an implied question behind it, e.g., "Is my car ready?" or "How much longer will the wait be for my table?"

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Just recently I was listening to some Singapore English speakers, ... a surprise to hear it as an import into English.

I've heard a similar word from Hawaiian friends "na" instead of "ma."

"Na" is a preposition that marks dative case, roughly "for X", "concerning X", or "on account of X".
I think the word you're thinking of is "anei", which gets placed after the verb to indicate a yes/no question.
(Information from Henry Judd's The Hawaiian Language .)

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Are you acquainted with the rising inflection of questions in ... herself to you by saying: "My name is Janet Smith?"

I think that the only time I'd be likely to use that inflection is if there is an implied question behind it, e.g., "Is my car ready?" or "How much longer will the wait be for my table?"

I use the rising inflection in statements pretty extensively? (I've even been accused of sounding like a Valley Girl by one person), so I have some intuition about why I do it. I think there are at least two independent reasons:
(1) trying to make sure that the listener is following/understanding what you're saying? in this sense it has the same origin as "y'know?" and the like.
(2) I sometimes use it when going into a long account or explanation of something that involves some element of humor? ... I think it somehow signals the humor in what is otherwise a deadpan sort of delivery.

Steny '08!
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I've heard a similar word from Hawaiian friends "na" instead of "ma."

"Na" is a preposition that marks dative case, roughly "for X", "concerning X", or "on account of X". I think the word you're thinking of is "anei", which gets placed after the verb to indicate a yes/no question.

Yes, that's it.

SML
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