No, not, never, negative, nein, neither, nope, non, none, nix, nuh-uh, nil. What’s with “N” and so much negativity? Who cursed this poor letter?

By: | Post date: 2016-09-26 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: English, Linguistics

The negativity all comes from the simple fact that *ne is proto–Indo-European for not.

Follow me down Wiktionary, the free dictionary, won’t you?

  • no: < Old English nā, nō < Proto-Germanic * < PIE *ne
  • not: < Middle English noght < Old English nāht ‘nothing’ < nōwiht ‘not anything < ne + āwiht ‘anything’ < Proto-German * aiw- wiht
  • never: < Old English næfre < ne + æfre ‘ever’
  • negative: < Latin negativus < negare ‘to deny’ < ‘not’ + aiō ‘say yes’
  • nein: < Old High German ni ein ‘not one’ < Proto-Germanic * ainaz
  • neither: < nauther (remodelled to resemble either) < Old English nawþer < nahwæþer ‘not whether… or…’ < Proto-Germanic * hwaþeraz
  • nope: < no (ending in glottal stop, heard as labiovelar stop) < Proto-Germanic *
  • non: < French non < Latin nōn < Old Latin noenum ‘not one’ < ne unum < PIE *ne óynos
  • none: < Old English nān ‘not one’ < ne ān
  • nix: < German nix < nichts ‘nothing’ < Old High German niowhit < nio wiht ‘never a being’ < Proto-German * aiw- wiht
  • nuh-uh: merger of no and uh-huh< Proto-Germanic *
  • nil: < Latin nil< nihil < ne hilum ‘not a trifle’

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