It's not really very helpful to think of "jo" as meaning "yes". The reason that Norwegian has the word "jo" is that answering "yes"/"no" to a negative question is completely ambiguous. In English you could answer the question "Don't you understand?" with "Yes, I do" or "No, I do" without very much difference in meaning.
Thank you for you comments. I do take your point in regard of the lack of difference in the English translations you offer. It happens that in my corner of England we would respond to "Don't you understand?" with either "Yes, I do (understand)." or "No, I don't (understand)." In most cases the "understand" would be vocalised rather than being merely implied. This would be done specifically because of ambiguity arising from potential double negation... which is what seems to be the problem in the Norwegian example. Of course, I am still puzzled by how "Jo" means anything contrary, since it sounds so positively affirmative. Do you want to be really kind, and have another shot at it ... for my sake? Thanks.
I agree that "Yes, I do" or "No, I don't" would be the most common answers - my point is more that the "I do" and "I don't" parts are usually included because just "Yes" or "No" on their own are confusing.
"On the contrary" doesn't always mean "No", it means something along the lines of "That's incorrect"/"I disagree"/"The opposite of what you said", which is what "Jo" means too. The difference is that "Jo" can only be used in response to a negative question. "On the contrary" can also be used in response to a positive question ("Do you understand?"), in which case it does mean "No"
Jennifer: Thank you for your kind assistance...
To recap, if I am getting this right, the term"Jo" means "No" to the previous statement, thus negating it. However, since it is only ever applied to statements that are already negative, as such "Jo" can be considered to exist in the language solely to create double negatives... and thus means "Yes" in every case. Is that the essence of it? And please tell me one more thing if you would. Does this construction come up often in conversational Norwegian? I mean, is it important for me to have a full understanding?
Thank you again. You have made much effort on my behalf. Have a couple of lingots for your trouble... (hey, I didn't pay for them!)
I think maybe I have confused things even more :)
I was only really trying to explain the English translation is "On the contrary"
In terms of the Norwegian: - When you ask a positive question (e.g. "Do you understand?"), "ja" agrees with the person ("Yes, I do") and "nei" disagrees ("No, I don't") - When you ask a negative question (e.g. "Don't you understand?"), "nei" agrees with the person ("No, I don't") and "jo" disagrees ("Yes, I do")
I guess this kind of question/answer exchange is about as common in Norwegian as in English?
Note that "jo" has several other meanings as well, although I don't think that any of the other meanings come up in the Duolingo course from memory.
So I submitted a report for this, but I'd also like to add it here to get other people's views on the subject.
The phrase "On the contrary" doesn't feel right in my mouth as a complete sentence but it works well as a phrase, whereas I'm far more comfortable saying "Quite the opposite" as its own sentence and, as is relevant here, a direct response to a question. Granted, I'm from the US, so this might be a matter of common usage in other English speaking countries.
As others in this thread have pointed out, it seems like this exercise is intended to be spoken by two different speakers, but the spacing and/or punctuation would suggest otherwise, which leads to confusion.
As far as I can tell, "on the contrary" and "quite the opposite" are equivalent translations of "jo", so I'd like to see "quite the opposite" be included as a translation.
Why make such a fuss about jo ? there are so many answers/thoughts on this irrelevant subject , as far as I can see nobody understands the word "jo " .Personally I see this Norwegian course simply as to know something abt the Norwegian language as such and to express myself if visiting Norway." Jo "gives me the impression you are theologians scrutinizing the bible to find mistakes. Regards , Sjef van der Pennen , the Netherlands.