Tuesday, August 22, 2017

... on Negations with N

Φιλολoγικά/Philologica : Why Creationists should Not Believe IE Single Protolanguage · Assorted retorts from yahoo boards and elsewhere : ... on Negations with N

Why do the words for "no" in so many European languages start with an "n " sound?

A Rq
Answer requested by Ray Du

Hans-Georg Lundahl
I speak two langs, Latin and Germanic. In a few dialects.
Answered just now
There are two options.

  • Ne- is a prefix or adverb of negation in a Proto-Indo-European language, which all languages of the family descend from, and Greek somehow lost it.
  • Ne- is a prefix or adverb of negation which spread from one language family of those called Indo-European to another, but did not spread to Greek.

It is:

  • found in lots of Latin compounds of negation, including but not limited to “non”, originally probably “ne-oenum”=not one;
  • found in lots of Germanic compounds of negation, including German “nicht” and English “naught, not”;
  • found in at least one of the negation markers in Gaelic, both Irish and Scots Gaelic;
  • found in Slavonic and from Baltic at least Lithuanian (sunus yra zmonas, sunus nera moteris = the son is a man, the son is not a woman).

It is:

  • not found in Classic Greek, where the negations are ou(k) and me, though one could argue that a privativum could descend from same word, sounds like “a-” before consonsants and like “an-” before vowels (Modern Greek den is from compounds ouden and meden, and the last -n is found in many adverbs);
  • not found in Scandinavian negations like ikke, ej, perhaps not intet either (but found in “nej”, which could however be borrowed from German “nein” = “no”)
  • not found in all particles of Gaelic and of Cymric negations, though I am not sure about Gaelic.

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