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I'm looking for examples of dedicated embedding pro-forms for propositions in other languages. In particular, I'm curious to know about analogs to uses of so in English like the following:

  1. I think so.

Obviously, so has many other uses in English. But I'm only interested in uses where it appears as an argument to attitude verbs like think. I'm also not interested in embedded event pro-forms. So can play this role in English, but it is subtly different than (1). We see it here:

  1. I want to do so.

Finally, I'm not interested in normal pronouns acting as embedded pro-forms for propositions. In English, it and that can both do this:

  1. I think {it/that}.

But these pronouns are not dedicated embedding pro-forms for propositions like the use of so in (1).

In short, I want to know if other languages have expressions similar to so that are not pronouns and can be used to anaphorically reference a proposition.

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  • Russian так (so) acts the same way as the English so in your examples 1 and 2.
    – Yellow Sky
    Sep 22 '15 at 22:38
  • Thanks! Do you know of any discussion on the semantics of так?
    – pdve
    Sep 22 '15 at 23:43
  • Wiktionary has it, see the meaning of так in the Slavic languages there.
    – Yellow Sky
    Sep 23 '15 at 0:50
  • In Dutch Dat denk ik wel = I indeed think that = [that] [think] [I] [indeed]
    – Joop Eggen
    Nov 23 '15 at 13:59
  • I'm curious, @pdve, did my answer make sense to you? Apr 26 '16 at 19:50
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In some major European languages:

Russian: Я так думаю. or Думаю, да. (Note: the comma here may be correct but it does not represent a pause when speaking.)

Dutch: Dat denk ik wel.

German: Ich denke schon.
(See this)

Italian: Credo di si.

Spanish: Creo/pienso que sí.
But you should also look at the use of as an intensifying adverb (eg Yo creo/pienso).

In the case of wel, schon and , the word in question is, in other situations, the translation of the English word indeed and/or emphatic do.

(As a side note, in English one could say I do indeed think. to mean that one thinks in general, but in German it would end up likewise Ich denke schon., similarly for Spanish.)

The above translations assume the emphasis in I think so. is on so. But the translation depends on the emphasis:

i. emphasis on think:
In this case English only changes the intonation (from so to think), but the other languages can drop that word, leaving only (I) think. I believe in English so is nearly obligatory in that case.

ii. emphasis on I:
Dropping the word is again generally optional in the other languages in this case, but not in English.

iii. I think so too:
Similarly I think so too. in others can just be I think too. or I too think. (or Think too I. etc).

iv. negation:
In negation, English can still use so (eg I don't think so.). The others cannot, they end up more like I think not. / I don't think / I think no..

Definitely read about German doch, as it likewise can stand in for entire sentences.

So I see no equivalent with full coverage. The combination of ways English handles emphasis and negation and implied objects is unique among its closest relatives.

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Russian analog of English so is так. It can be used almost everywhere where you use so.

I think so = Я думаю так

I want to do so = Я хочу сделать так

They are so many = Их так много

He is so smart = Он такой умный.

So, no = Так что, нет.

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  • 1
    imho Я так думаю sounds much more natural.
    – Alex B.
    Mar 23 '16 at 15:36
  • @Alex B. depends on the meaning. Я думаю так is an answer on the your interlocutor's expressed position, a confirmation.
    – Anixx
    Mar 23 '16 at 16:04
  • Could you give me an example where "Я думаю так" would sound more natural? I'm sorry but it rubs me the wrong way and if someone wrote it, I'd correct them. (NB: I didn't say it's impossible at all, but I need examples.)
    – Alex B.
    Mar 23 '16 at 17:16
  • @Alex B. Что, он прямо после убийства пошел есть в ресторан? - Я думаю, так. Or Почему он ещё не решил эту задачу? - Это очень сложная проблема для него, я думаю так. In the second case я так думаю is appropriate, but underlines думаю, while я думаю так underlines так.
    – Anixx
    Mar 23 '16 at 18:48
  • I don't know, imho your examples sound extremely unnatural. I'd never say it nor have I ever heard it before. Your examples sound as if they were translated by Google or written by someone whose L1 is English and now they're studying Russian.
    – Alex B.
    Mar 23 '16 at 23:06

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