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“Yes,” “No,” “I see,” “Got it,” “Here,” “Still here,” “Here you are,” “OK,” “What?” Hard to believe one single word can have so many different meanings. Particularly if it’s one that looks as innocent and undemanding as “hai.”

This false first impression may result from hai’s famous but dull part in the old response pairing of はい (hai, yes) and いいえ (iie, no). But just as communication involves a lot more than just answering yes/no questions, that’s only a tiny bit of what はい can really do.

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