[SOLVED] Polish: Difference Between 'Nikt' and 'nikt nie'

10 posts / 0 new
Super Member
Joined: 17.05.2013
Pending moderation

Hello peeps,

So in a Polish song there's a line that goes "nikt nie mówi nie". I get that 'nikt' on its own means 'nobody', but 'nikt nie' also means 'nobody'. I'd like to know why 'nie' is added and what's the difference. Cheers

Super Member
Joined: 27.06.2016

Although I'm not Polish, I think I've got this one. This is the common case of multiple negations in Slavic languages. Instead of "nobody speaks" we say "nobody not speaks", or even for "nobody tells anything to anyone" we say "nobody not tells nothing to nobody". I hope this helped.
And thus the first "nie" is the required negation for the verb, the second one is simple "no".

Super Member
Joined: 10.05.2012

Ivan U7n is right. In Polish every negated pronoun is followed by "nie": nikt, nigdy, nic and so on must be followed by "nie". Double negation isn't correct in English, but it is in Polish and other Slavic languages and I'll tell you more: you can even have a triple negation if you say something like "nikt nie wie o niczym", literally "no one doesn't know about nothing", meaning "no one knows about anything". I find it super interesting.

Super Member
Joined: 17.05.2013

Thank you both so much!

So is it still correct if I only used one negation?

Super Member
Joined: 10.05.2012

D'you mean "nikt mówi"? No, it's not grammatically correct, but I think Poles may understand you anyway. "Nikt" on its own cannot be used in a sentence, if there's no "nie", because even if "nikt" is the object, you still need the negation: nie widzę nikogo- I don't see anyone. Same goes for all other similar words.

Super Member
Joined: 17.05.2013

Yep, that's what I meant. Thanks a heap!

Moderator
Joined: 16.01.2013

If “Nikt nie mówi nie.”, as I assume, is a complete and finished sentence then it means: Nobody says “No”. As you see your problem has nothing to do with a double negation, which indeed exists and not only in Slavic languages, but also in Spanish - e.g. “No me digas nada”.

If this was only a part of the sentence taken out of the context, then please give me the whole sentence and I’ll try to give you more explanations.

Anyway, both Ivan’s and Joshua’s explanations were very good.

Super Member
Joined: 17.05.2013

It is indeed only "Nikt nie mówi nie". But could you explain why it has nothing to do with double negation this way and when is double negation required in general?

Moderator
Joined: 16.01.2013

I think it should be clear from the way I wrote the English translation of this sentence. The punctuation was missing and that could have been misleading for those who were not native speakers. Check these examples: http://context.reverso.net/t%C5%82umaczenie/polski-angielski/Nikt+nie+m%...

Indeed you have a double negation in this sentence: “nikt nie mówi”. The final “nie” has nothing to do with it.

Double negation is a rule in Polish and it’s always required. I gave you a Spanish example and in Polish it would be “nie mów nic”. In English you cannot say (translated word by word): “don’t say nothing”. You can say either “don’t say anything” or “say nothing”.

BTW, which song do you mean? Was it Lady Pank “Piąta rano”?

Super Member
Joined: 17.05.2013

Thanks a lot for clearing that out. Now it makes total sense!

Nope, the song is called "Jeszcze jeden pocałunek" by Boys.