Sunday, March 28, 2010

Multiple Negatives

The Czech language, like other Slavic languages, has this multiple negation thing that sounds crazy to native English speakers. It's a bit like reading Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer where you hear sentences such as I ain't got no...

The whole two negatives making a positive doesn't exist over here. For example...

Nic nedělám. "I don't do nothing" in Czech means "I don't do anything" or "I'm not doing anything" in English.

Nikdy nic nedělám. "I never don't do nothing" would be understood to mean "I never do anything."

Nikdy nikde nic nedělám. "I never don't do nothing nowhere" is how one conveys "I never do anything anywhere."

Nikdo nikdy nikde nic nedělá. "Nobody never doesn't do nothing nowhere" is best translated as "No one ever does anything anywhere."

It's going to take a lot of homework before I have this bit mastered...

EDIT: Here's the big daddy of negative phrases...
Nikdo nikdy nikde nic nikomu ničím nijak nedělá - No one ever does anything anywhere to anyone in no way with nothing.


  1. But it sounds to me like you do! Great post Chris.

  2. It is natural to feel in this way when you learn a foreign language. You are so hardworking, I am sure that you have no problems with learning new things.