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Negation in Polish sentences


twww189 2 | 2
30 Nov 2011 #1
Hello I am teaching myself Polish from a textbook. I've come across sentences in the negation lesson that I just can't figure out.

Could someone help me with these sentences?

1. Nic nie wiem, on o tym nigdy nic nie mowi. (this sentence is very confusing to me!)
2. On nigdy na nic nie ma czasu. (He never has time for anything. Is this correct?)
3. Komu Staszek o tym mówił? (Who did Staszek speak to about it. correct?)
4. Temu dziecku nikt nigdy niczym nie pomoga. (No one ever helps that child with anything. Correct?)
5. O czym dziadek dzieciom opowiadał? (Did the grandfather tell the child something? Is this correct?)
6. Ta nauczycielka nie uczy żadnego z naszych dzieci.
7. Ktoś mi coś mówił o tych dzieciach. (Someone told me something about those kids. correct?)
8. Może one wiedzą o kimś, kto wraca do Krakowa.

Any help appreciated.
catsoldier 62 | 596
30 Nov 2011 #2
What book do you have? Sometimes there is a teachers book with the answers
There is double negation in Polish which is still a negative.

Never did I not help her means I always helped her in the english langauge while in Polish it means I never helped her. I am not an expert but I hope you get the idea.
OP twww189 2 | 2
30 Nov 2011 #3
The book is an out of print Teach Yourself Polish by M Corbridge-Patkaniowska 1964. Incase anyone wants to know.
It is a very good book. The newer books are usually pretty bad.
strzyga 2 | 993
30 Nov 2011 #4
Welcome to the double/triple/quadriple negation.
In Polish it's possible to negate a few elements of a sentence and it's still negation, just as Catsoldier says.
Just treat any number of negations as if it were a single one.
It's not maths and two minuses don't change into a plus (in English they do).

1. Nic nie wiem, on o tym nigdy nic nie mowi. (this sentence is very confusing to me!)

I know nothing, he never says anything about it.

See, in English it's possible to say:
I know nothing
or I don't know anything.
It's either-or.
In Polish it's both:
I don't know nothing.

The same with the second part of this sentence:
He never says anything about it, or: He doesn't ever say anything about it, or: He says nothing about it.
If you combine the three, you'll get: He never doesn't say nothing about it. That's exactly the Polish sentence (three negative elements).

2. On nigdy na nic nie ma czasu. (He never has time for anything. Is this correct?)3. Komu Staszek o tym mówił? (Who did Staszek speak to about it. correct?)4. Temu dziecku nikt nigdy niczym nie pomoga. (No one ever helps that child with anything. Correct?)

all correct

5. O czym dziadek dzieciom opowiadał? (Did the grandfather tell the child something? Is this correct?)

What did the grandfather tell the kids about?

6. Ta nauczycielka nie uczy żadnego z naszych dzieci.

This teacher doesn't teach any of our children.

7. Ktoś mi coś mówił o tych dzieciach. (Someone told me something about those kids. correct?)

yes

8. Może one wiedzą o kimś, kto wraca do Krakowa.

Maybe they know something about somebody who's coming/going back to Kraków (the meaning is more like: Maybe they heard of somebody who's coming/going back to Kraków).
Zazulka 3 | 129
30 Nov 2011 #5
twww189: 8. Może one wiedzą o kimś, kto wraca do Krakowa.

Maybe they know of someone who is returning to Krakow?
boletus 30 | 1,366
30 Nov 2011 #6
Welcome to the double/triple/quadriple negation.

I just could not stop myself from quoting this fine piece about double negation from Stanisław Lem, Cyberiada - Jak Ocalał Świat, How the World was Saved:

Ale oto trzeci rozkaz: Maszyno! Masz zrobić Nic!
Maszyna przez dłuższy czas w ogóle się nie ruszała. Klapaucjusz jął zacierać z zadowolenia ręce, Trurl zaś rzekł:
- O co ci chodzi? Kazałeś jej nic nie robić, więc nic nie robi!
- Nieprawda. Kazałem jej zrobić Nic, a to co innego.
- Też coś! Zrobić Nic a nie zrobić nic - znaczy jedno i to samo.
- Skądże! Miała zrobić Nic, a tymczasem nie zrobiła nic, więc wygrałem. Nic bowiem, mój ty przemądrzały kolego, to nie takie sobie zwyczajne nic, produkt lenistwa i niedziałania, lecz czynna i aktywna Nicość (...)

polonica.ru/node/280

But here's the third order: Machine! Do Nothing!
Machine did not move at all for a long time. Klapaucjusz began rubbing his hands with satisfaction, but Trurl said:
- What do you mean? You told her not to do anything, so she is not doing anything!
- Not true. I told her to do Nothing, and that is something else.
- Something too! To do Nothing and nothing to do - are the same thing.
- Not at all! She supposed to do Nothing, and yet she has not done anything, so I won. Nothing in fact, my buddy smart alec, is not such a mere nothing, a product of laziness and non-activity, but it is open and active Nothingness, it is the perfect, the ubiquitous and the highest Nonbeing in its own person!

- Stop bothering the Machine! - cried Trurl, but suddenly a bronze voice was heard:
- Stop arguing in such a moment! I know what is Nonbeing, Nothingness, which is Nothing, because these things belong to the key letter n, as being Non-existent. You better take a look at the world for the last time, because soon it will not exist ...

The constructors froze, forgetting their quarrel, for the machine was in actual fact doing Nothing, and it did it in this fashion: one by one, various things were removed from the world, and the things, thus removed, ceased to exist, as if they never had been. The machine had already disposed of nolars, nightzebs, nocs, necs, nallyrakers, neotremes, and nonmalrigers. At moments, though, it seemed that instead of reducing, diminishing and subtracting, the machine was increasing, enhancing, and adding, since it liquidated in turn: nonconformists, nonentities, nonsense, nonsupport, neaarsightedness, narrow-mindedness, naughtiness, neglect, nausea, and nepotism. But after a while the world very definitely begin to thin out around Trurl and Klapaucjusz.

- Rendered by Michael Kandel
OP twww189 2 | 2
30 Nov 2011 #7
Thank You strzyga!
Very good explanations. I think I understand now. :)
skysoulmate 14 | 1,297
30 Nov 2011 #8
Strzyga, great explanation. However, yes, you can make the same expression in English, well a version of it, ebonics or redneck, pick yo' flavr
Nic nie wiem, on o tym nigdy nic nie mowi

Now, close your eyes and imagine 50 cent translating this sentence for you. It'd be something like:

I no' nothin', he ain't never said nothin'

Means exactly the same. You're welcome :-)

I've posted this before but here's it is again, Ebonics lesson just for you.. :-)

youtube.com/watch?v=oyxYjl-KR5I
strzyga 2 | 993
30 Nov 2011 #9
I just could not stop myself from quoting this fine piece about double negation from Stanisław Lem, Cyberiada

yeah, that's a great story, the whole Klapaucjusz and Trurl series is so much fun and fantastic creative language.
Is the first part of it your translation?
Lem is tricky to translate. There are good translations of his books into German though, there was an Austrian translator who did most of his books and he loved her work. He had no such luck with English, though I quite like the fragment you quoted.
skysoulmate 14 | 1,297
30 Nov 2011 #10
I just could not stop myself from quoting this fine piece about double negation from Stanisław Lem, Cyberiada - Jak Ocalał Świat, How the World was Saved:...

Wow, first time I've read it in Polish. Somewhat (sadly) ironic...
strzyga 2 | 993
30 Nov 2011 #11
However, yes, you can make the same expression in English, well a version of it, ebonics or redneck, pick yo' flavr

I know, I just don't feel I'm fluent enough in ebonics to give examples on my own. But your translation looks about perfect :)

Ebonics lesson just for you.. :-)

charming :) thanks again
boletus 30 | 1,366
30 Nov 2011 #12
Is the first part of it your translation?

Yes, and poorly done too, I realize. I did not have anything already translated at hand, so I patched it quickly.

He had no such luck with English, though I quite like the fragment you quoted.

We once talked a bit about Douglas R. Hofstadter. In his book "Le Ton bon de Marot" he played a bit with translation of the Lem's "How the world was saved" because he was intrigued by absurdity of the premise of the story, leading to "both a philosophical and linguistic joke".

He says: "I had been told that the English translations by Michael Kandel were brilliant beyond description. (...) I wanted to read it, but on the other hand, I didn't want to read Kandel's translation of it (which I easily found in print), since I thought that translating it would be an interesting challenge, and I didn't want to plant any ideas in my own mind"

Here is a fragment of his translation, which you can directly compare with the Kandel's one I quoted before:

The frightened constructors were dumbstruck. The Machine was actually making Nothing, by annihilating one class of things after another; they simply ceased to be, as if none of them had ever existed at all. It had already destroyed Nethigores, Numbles, Natteroos, Nelliquicks, Nerns, Nonjubbers, and Nendasoles. At one point it appeared that, rather than reducing, lessening, eliminating, disposing of, annihilating, or merely getting rid of things, it was actually augmenting, amplifying, and adding to the world, for it was successfully liquidating Ne'er-do-wells, Nogoodniks, Nonsense, Nonalignment, Nonaggression, Nixon, and even the word "No"! But then again it started to make things grow sparse around the onlookers.

He then compares it with a rendition of his Polish friend Marek £ugowski, who curiously extended the capability of the Machine to making s-things, in addition to n-things. But that's entirely different topic, and I may type it in later in a separate thread, if you wish.

Well, Lem was part of our growing up educational process, and his books were readily available in Polish. But buying anything foreign was practically beyond means of an average student those days. And yes, some hidden anti-communist messages were suspected to be buried in Lem's prose too, so we saw them everywhere... :-)


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