Double Negation

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Double Negation

Post by Hlewagastiz »

Many IE and non-IE languages use some kind of "double negation", i.e. their speakers repeat the negative particle before or after another negative word (a pronoun, an adverb, an adjective etc.). "Double negation" languages in Europe include:

1) All Balto-Slavonic languages

2) All Romance languages, but only Rumanian has developed a full system of double negation; in other Romance languages double negation depends on which word one starts a statement with, namely, if one starts with a negative adverb, pronoun or adjective, double negation is not considered to be grammatically correct. Especially in French, the "double negation" device is governed by more complex rules.

3) Albanian

4) Maltese

5) Romani

6) Modern Greek is a rather special case, as it uses a double negation device involving "false" negative pronouns, which originally were indefinite pronouns - and are still perceived as such in particular contexts (unfortunately, MGreek grammars speak just of "double negation", which is not a proper description of the phenomenon); Notice there was no such thing as "double negation" in Ancient Greek

In Asia/Africa they include:

1) All Indo-Iranian languages

2) Modern Hebrew

3) I'm not sure about Arabic (please, inform me, if anyone positively knows)

I've also heard that some English creoles/dialects etc. do have a "double negation"; is this true?
1) Ayval b?? khii, khiivel b?? ay!
2) Мне некогда: Хлевагастиз
3) Exterminate lady-haters, now!

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Post by Bryan »

Frequently one hears folks say "I never do nuffink".


Also, Old English had double negation- the more negation, the more intense.

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Post by The Rt. Hon. Vlad Dracula »

I've also heard that some English creoles/dialects etc. do have a "double negation"; is this true?


Plenty, but it's generally considered to be incorrect or a sign of uneducated speech.
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Post by linguoboy »

The Rt. Hon. Vlad Dracula wrote:
I've also heard that some English creoles/dialects etc. do have a "double negation"; is this true?

Plenty, but it's generally considered to be incorrect or a sign of uneducated speech.

The same is true for colloquial German, e.g. keine Lust auf nichts "no interest in nothing," although I think double negation is quite acceptable in some dialects, e.g. kaner will's nit tou "ain't nobody wants to do it" (Nurembergish). IIRC, it's acceptable in Standard Yiddish. I wouldn't be at all surprised to find instances of it in other Germanic varieties.

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Post by Miekko »

Some analyse double negatives in some languages as a kind of (negativity) agreement.
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Post by Bryan »

Miekko wrote:Some analyse double negatives in some languages as a kind of (negativity) agreement.


Yeah, I think in OE one must negate the verb with a particle before it, but then must use a negative verb also, or something. So, something like 'I'm not walking not'. Or something.

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Post by nebula wind phone »

The other interesting thing about French is that it's drifting back towards single negatives: from "ne ___" to "ne ___ pas" and now to "___ pas" with "pas" reanalyzed as the main negative marker.

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Post by Echobeats »

Bryan wrote:
Miekko wrote:Some analyse double negatives in some languages as a kind of (negativity) agreement.


Yeah, I think in OE one must negate the verb with a particle before it, but then must use a negative verb also, or something. So, something like 'I'm not walking not'. Or something.


Afrikaans has this: I don't know exactly what the rule is, but it appears to me that if anything follows the verb, you get a negative after that as well as the one after the verb. So Ek verstaan nie "I don't understand" but Ek verstaan nie jou taal nie "I don't understand your language".

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Post by Douglas »

The Rt. Hon. Vlad Dracula wrote:
I've also heard that some English creoles/dialects etc. do have a "double negation"; is this true?


Plenty, but it's generally considered to be incorrect or a sign of uneducated speech.

Or perhaps a historical movement towards double negation. Or due to the influence of another (African, Amerind, French?) language?

In French, I believe that the standard ne...pas of negation is often replaced on the street with a simple pas. Perhaps a move in the opposite direction?

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Post by gach »

In N-S?mi there's an example of double negative verb:

Ii dat astan ?at ii borratge.
no-SG3 SG3/it have.time-PART.PRF any.more no-SG3 eat-INF-even
He didn't have time to even eat any more.

The text book fro which the example is from says that pretty regularily the negative auxilary is doubled or multipled even more if one wants to specially stress the negative meaning. That's quite vaguely said and one easily finds more to the structure than that. Firstly since the unmarked word order is SVO the fronting of the negative verb in the finite part of the sentence to get a partial VS order (actually V.neg SV) itself marks focus on the verb. The second negative verb clearly is a part of the same phrase as the infinite verb borrat so its place is very likely to have special meaning and not just be a dublicated negative just thrown somewhere (as a note the first verb is indeed finite however being a participle, it's just the way S?mi [and Balto-Finnic] forms the negation in the past tense). Since the infinite verb is already marked modally by the clitic -ge I'm tending to analyse the second negative verb rather as enforcing and perhaps some kind of optional agreement with it. So because the focused negation is already expressed by the placing ot the first negative verb I'd say the latter negative acts more to focuse the verb "to eat" than the negation itself.

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Post by Space Dracula »

IIRC in intuitionist logic, !!x is just a weakened version of !x, rather than x.
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Re: Double Negation

Post by Grath »

Hlewagastiz wrote:Notice there was no such thing as "double negation" in Ancient Greek

I beg to differ. According to my Greek grammar book, which gives the rules for classical Attic, there were two types of double negation in Ancient Greek. Whether it was used as an extra strong negation or as the negation of a negation (and thus an affirmation) depended on the word order. Behold (I can't be arsed to find a Greek script thingy, so I'll just do it in a random transliteration of my own):

After words like oudeis (no-one) and oupote (never), ou (not) undoes the negation:

oudeis ouk erchetai nobody doesn't come = everybody comes

But when ou comes first, the result is an extra strong negation, for instance:

ouk oiden oudeis nobody at all knows

I imagine the same would go for m? and m?deis, m?pote (if those exist).

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Re: Double Negation

Post by Hlewagastiz »

Grath wrote:According to my Greek grammar book, which gives the rules for classical Attic, there were two types of double negation in Ancient Greek. Whether it was used as an extra strong negation or as the negation of a negation (and thus an affirmation) depended on the word order. Behold (I can't be arsed to find a Greek script thingy, so I'll just do it in a random transliteration of my own):

After words like oudeis (no-one) and oupote (never), ou (not) undoes the negation:

oudeis ouk erchetai nobody doesn't come = everybody comes

But when ou comes first, the result is an extra strong negation, for instance:

ouk oiden oudeis nobody at all knows

I imagine the same would go for m? and m?deis, m?pote (if those exist).


1) You're absolutely right about the double negation = affirmation; but this wan not the point of the thread; I had in mind a double negation which is still a negation.
2) There was also a double negative particle, namely ου μην /u: mε:n/, which has nothing to do with double negation. The other structure you mention is, as you said, some kind of extra-emphatic formulation (that's why you use "at all" or something); and, as known, emphasis often involves using non-grammaticalised structures... Which is a different thing from using a grammaticalised double negation. Thanks for you information, anyway :D .
1) Ayval b?? khii, khiivel b?? ay!
2) Мне некогда: Хлевагастиз
3) Exterminate lady-haters, now!

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Post by Hlewagastiz »

gach wrote:In N-S?mi there's an example of double negative verb:

Ii dat astan ?at ii borratge.
no-SG3 SG3/it have.time-PART.PRF any.more no-SG3 eat-INF-even
He didn't have time to even eat any more.

The text book fro which the example is from says that pretty regularily the negative auxilary is doubled or multipled even more if one wants to specially stress the negative meaning. That's quite vaguely said and one easily finds more to the structure than that. Firstly since the unmarked word order is SVO the fronting of the negative verb in the finite part of the sentence to get a partial VS order (actually V.neg SV) itself marks focus on the verb. The second negative verb clearly is a part of the same phrase as the infinite verb borrat so its place is very likely to have special meaning and not just be a dublicated negative just thrown somewhere (as a note the first verb is indeed finite however being a participle, it's just the way S?mi [and Balto-Finnic] forms the negation in the past tense). Since the infinite verb is already marked modally by the clitic -ge I'm tending to analyse the second negative verb rather as enforcing and perhaps some kind of optional agreement with it. So because the focused negation is already expressed by the placing ot the first negative verb I'd say the latter negative acts more to focuse the verb "to eat" than the negation itself.


A very special case of "double" negation; besides, your explanation seems probable (at least to me). :)
1) Ayval b?? khii, khiivel b?? ay!
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3) Exterminate lady-haters, now!

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Post by Hlewagastiz »

Miekko wrote:Some analyse double negatives in some languages as a kind of (negativity) agreement.


IMO, this is a very good approach to the topic.
1) Ayval b?? khii, khiivel b?? ay!
2) Мне некогда: Хлевагастиз
3) Exterminate lady-haters, now!

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Post by Hlewagastiz »

Echobeats wrote:Afrikaans has this: I don't know exactly what the rule is, but it appears to me that if anything follows the verb, you get a negative after that as well as the one after the verb. So Ek verstaan nie "I don't understand" but Ek verstaan nie jou taal nie "I don't understand your language".

Tim.


This is a very special case, different from the "double negation" I spoke of. I'd rather consider it as a special emphatic case of negation. Very interesting, indeed :D .
1) Ayval b?? khii, khiivel b?? ay!
2) Мне некогда: Хлевагастиз
3) Exterminate lady-haters, now!

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Post by Åge Kruger »

Afrikaans double negation doesn't just apply to the simple negative particle "nie" but also to all negatives:
niemand, geen, n?rens, niks, nooit...

Daar is niemand by die deur nie.
Daar is geen blomme in die veld nie.
Ek gaan di? naweek n?rens nie.


There is no double negation in subject-verb, subject-verb-pronoun, and sentances beginning with an adverbial phrase, unless it is a compund verb, in which case double negation is used.
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Post by Hlewagastiz »

?ge Kruger wrote:Afrikaans double negation doesn't just apply to the simple negative particle "nie" but also to all negatives:
niemand, geen, n?rens, niks, nooit...

Daar is niemand by die deur nie.
Daar is geen blomme in die veld nie.
Ek gaan di? naweek n?rens nie.


This is a very interesting case, really similar to the one I had in mind.
1) Ayval b?? khii, khiivel b?? ay!
2) Мне некогда: Хлевагастиз
3) Exterminate lady-haters, now!

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Post by Nikura »

Negation in French:
"ne... pas" (although as it's been said, people now just say "...pas"
"ne... plus" (any longer/anymore)
"ne... point" (litterary)
"ne... mie" (old)

pas (step), plus, point (point), mie (half) are common words that have been added to the "ne" which seemed to be too much unsignificant. Those particles can also be replaced by: jamais (never), personne (nobody), rien (nothing) etc.

Catalan does in some way the same thing with those particles, used after "no", but there're just here to emphatize the negation:
pas, cap, gens
Occitan also does it, but at the contrary it lost the "no" particle and just does negation with: pas, gi, cap or doubles it like "pas cap"/"pas gens" (nothing, with quantity idea), "pas ren" (nothing), "pas degun" (nobody). Rumantsch does it as well with "buc" (meaning hole) particle. Italian also knows this possibility using "mica" (See French 'mie') particle after the verb.

Breton does negation quite the same way:
n'ouzon ket (I don't know)
[b]Nek vatar s-voli nasnap migi dmuxa k ti[/b]

-> [url=http://www.conlanger.com/cbbfr/]Quand les francophones se mettent à parler de conlangues...[/url]

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Post by Hlewagastiz »

Nikura wrote:Those particles can also be replaced by: jamais (never), personne (nobody), rien (nothing) etc.


Something similar happened also in (colloquial) Modern Greek and in many dialectal forms thereof: in Crete, the word /'prama/ (lit. a thing) means "nothing" when used in negative contexts, just as like "personne" (lit. a person) means "nobody" when used in negative contexts.

Nikura wrote:Breton does negation quite the same way:
n'ouzon ket (I don't know)


Definitely a calque from French.

Interesting information, Nikura :wink: .
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2) Мне некогда: Хлевагастиз
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Post by Nikura »

De nada !!! :mrgreen:
I personnaly didn't know there were so many language who have double negation. Being French native and having the natural "ne + verb + pas" construction, I think it is good to 'pack' the verb between two negation forms...
I've just remembered. Someone talks about arabic:
Maghreban Arabic also has double negation:
I don't know: ma n'raf shi
[b]Nek vatar s-voli nasnap migi dmuxa k ti[/b]

-> [url=http://www.conlanger.com/cbbfr/]Quand les francophones se mettent à parler de conlangues...[/url]

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Post by Hlewagastiz »

Nikura wrote:De nada !!! :mrgreen: Being French native and having the natural "ne + verb + pas" construction, I think it is good to 'pack' the verb between two negation forms...


:D Good point! In any case, remember that a "two-word negative" (as is French ne ... pas etc.) differs from a "double negative", i.e. two real negations in the same sentence. A true "double negation" in French is the usage of ni ... non.

Nikura wrote:I've just remembered. Someone talks about arabic:
Maghreban Arabic also has double negation:
I don't know: ma n'raf shi


Indeed?! (then I remembered well :mrgreen: ).
1) Ayval b?? khii, khiivel b?? ay!
2) Мне некогда: Хлевагастиз
3) Exterminate lady-haters, now!

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Post by Kolya »

I believe this feature also exists in African American Vernacular English.

"Don't nobody know the answer" is an example.
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Post by Nikura »

Hlewagastiz wrote:
Nikura wrote:I've just remembered. Someone talks about arabic:
Maghreban Arabic also has double negation:
I don't know: ma n'raf shi

Indeed?! (then I remembered well :mrgreen: ).

Yes, but as I know, only in Maghreb and Maltese. I don't know for litterary Arabic.
[b]Nek vatar s-voli nasnap migi dmuxa k ti[/b]

-> [url=http://www.conlanger.com/cbbfr/]Quand les francophones se mettent à parler de conlangues...[/url]

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Post by Siride »

As I understand it, common double negation in English developed into the modern system when the negative particle preceding the verb was dropped.

"ic ne cann nawuht seon" = "I cannot see no thing" = "I can't see" (with "nawuht" < "ne-a:-wiht" ("no"-"thing") being more like "at all")
And then the "ne" was lost and "nawuht" remained as "not".

Also, is it not true that French is sort of doing the same thing with "pas"?

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