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I've encountered this a number of times, where, in Japanese, a question mark (?) is used when someone is clearly making a statement, not when posing a question or hypothetical or any such thing. It seems to particularly happen when a sentence concludes with "よ".

Is this just a unique use of the question mark (?) by japanese people, that applies more to intonation (a rising tone towards the end of the sentence), and less to the fact that the sentence is a question? Or am I misinterpretting things?

As for examples, here's two off the top of my head:

  1. There's an anime titled "Mondaiji-tachi ga Isekai kara Kuru Sou desu yo?" (yes, it ends in a question mark)
  2. In SAO Progressive (2nd movie), goon #1 says basically says "let's attack!", and goon #2 says "短気は損気ですよぉ?" according to the Japanese subtitles (the statement being essentially "haste makes waste". This is a statement, not a question or anything of the sort.).

As a bonus related question, I swear I see "ですよね。" with a period at the end way more often than with a question mark at the end. Whereas in English, "isn't it?"/"ain't that right?" will always have question marks at the end. So yeah, in general, I'm not sure how Japanese people think a question mark is supposed to be used @.@. Or maybe I don't know how it's supposed to be used? A question mark is supposed to be used to mark a question, right? @.@ (rhetorical or otherwise)

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This type of "よ?", pronounced with a rising intonation, is like "..., you know?", "..., don't you know?", "..., okay?", "..., huh?", "..., and so?" or "..., so what's next?" and so on, depending on the context. In any way, it's a kind of "question" in the sense that it seeks the listener's response.

  • 短気は損気ですよ?
    Haste makes waste, you know?
  • 本当ですよ?
    That's true, okay? / don't you believe me?
  • その映画? 見ましたよ?
    The movie? Yes I saw it (but why do you ask)?
  • 先生が来ましたよ?
    The teacher just arrived (so what should I do)?

As for your next question, depending on the intonation, a sentence-end ね may or may not be a question. "ですよね" without a question mark is a very common expression like "That's understandable" or "I knew it". "ですよね?" with a question mark is like "I'm correct, right?"

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  • Perfect answer, thanks so much! As a final clarification, is "よ?" supposed to having a rising intonation the same as a full blown question? Or is it more subtle? Or non-existent? Or the same intonation as "y'know?" has (which is mostly flat, with no strong rising tone)?
    – chausies
    Aug 2, 2023 at 14:19
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    @chausies "よ?⤴" in my examples are pronounced with a clearly rising intonation. Without it, "本当ですよ⤵" sounds like the speaker is frustrated.
    – naruto
    Aug 2, 2023 at 14:22

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