FR: Point de X qui ne Y un autre

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by rzl62, Nov 4, 2012.

  1. rzl62 Junior Member

    Chinese - Mandarin
    What does the following mean?

    Point de X qui ne Y un autre. (X is a noun and Y is a verb.)

    It looks like it means "There is no X who doesn't Y another." However, from context, I would have expected the meaning to be "There is no X who Ys another." Is this a double negative thing? And why is there no 'pas' after Y? Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2012
  2. Bluelady

    Bluelady Senior Member

    Paris, France
    French - France
    Hello, rzl,

    First, to answer your question about the absence of pas after Y ; let's take an example :

    (il n'y a) point de chat qui ne sorte la nuit = all cats go out at night

    You can say pas as well as point :

    (il n'y a) pas de chat qui ne sorte la nuit

    Point is used for pas to have in old-fashioned style, or in proverbs, sayings ...

    There is no need to add a pas after Y in your example or after sorte in my example (note the subjunctive !) because the ne before the verb quite fulfills the negative role of ne ... pas ... You could as well say :

    (il n'y a) pas / point de chat qui ne sorte pas la nuit

    But we consider this pas is not necessary and is a kind of repetition (remember how much the French language hates repetitions !).

    Nevertheless, back to your sentence :

    1. Isn't it point de X qui n'en Y un autre ?

    or : point de X qui ne Y un autre X ?


    2. I'm afraid I have trouble with understanding it. Point de X qui ne Y un autre could be possible in the case where the semantics authorizes such a sentence. For example :

    point de chat qui n'en (ne ?) mange un autre (chat) : impossible from a semantic point of view

    point de chat qui n'en chasse un autre : no problem

    Anyway, if you have more context to provide, that would be great.

    Hope it helps.
     
  3. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    The following sentences have the same meaning: There is no X who doesn't Y another, All X's Y another.

    Point de X qui ne Y un autre.
    [Il n'y a] pas de X qui ne Y un autre.
    [Il n'y a] pas de X qui ne Y pas un autre.
    Tous les X Y un autre.

    See also the thread FR: "ne" without "pas" - "ne" explétif et "ne" littéraire.


    Blueladay, you can perfectly say ne instead of n'en: Point de chat qui ne chasse un autre.
     
  4. Bluelady

    Bluelady Senior Member

    Paris, France
    French - France
    Well, I don't fully agree with your last sentence ; of course you can say point de chat qui ne chasse un autre, but we'll be waiting for more information : "qui ne chasse un autre quoi ?". So, qui n'en chasse un autre indicates that you're talking about the same topic, cats in this case.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 4, 2012
  5. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    The en is not necessary to imply that you're talking about the same thing. That grammatical turn of phrase is an ellipsis; you simply imply chats in the relative clause:

    Point de chat qui ne chasse un autre [chat].

    Likewise, we don't need any en in the following sentences:

    Point d'homme qui n'envie un autre [homme].
    Point d'homme qui ne dépende d'un autre [homme].
    On a changé l'acteur principal au dernier moment. Ce devait être un autre [acteur].
    Un clou chasse l'autre [clou].
    Cet homme est très patient. Un autre [homme] aurait tout laissé tombé depuis longtemps.

    Selon Grevisse/Goosse (Le Bon Usage, § 741, a, 1 ; c'est moi qui graisse) :
     
  6. rzl62 Junior Member

    Chinese - Mandarin
    For example, Il n'y a point de musulman qui ne trahisse un autre. This should mean No Muslim betrays another. So why the ne before trahisse?
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2012
  7. Bluelady

    Bluelady Senior Member

    Paris, France
    French - France
    Hello, rzl,

    First, your sentence must be : il n'y a point de musulman qui n'en trahisse un autre. Watch out for the French il, which generally translates the English there or it. And the en coupled with n' replaces musulman, to avoid the repetition (the French language dislikes repetitions).

    And this sentence means : all Muslims betray other (Muslims).

    The use (or not) of ne before the verb is most important. Look the difference (no other solution or words combination is possible, according to the semantics) :

    il n'y a point de Musulman qui n'en trahisse (subjunctive) un autre = tous les Musulmans en trahissent un autre (de Musulman)

    il n'y a point de Musulman qui en trahit (indicative) un autre = aucun Musulman n'en trahit un autre = il n'y a pas de trahison entre Musulmans

    You can see the huge difference between both meanings, and this difference relies on the sole presence (or not) or ne (or n').

    On another hand, the easiest way to say exactly the same thing would be :

    aucun Musulman n'en trahit un autre (if you mean that no Muslim betrays another Muslim)

    But of course the expression il n'y a pas (or point) ... qui ... belongs to the emphatic style, and is much used in French.

    Do not hesitate if you have other questions or remarks.
     
  8. rzl62 Junior Member

    Chinese - Mandarin
    Sorry, that was a typo. The exact quote is:

    "Il n'y a point de musulman qui ne trahisse un autre musulman dans une situation où sa dignité est bafouée..."
    The English translation says "There is no Muslim who betrays another Muslim in a situation in which his honor is being violated..."

    So I don't understand why the ne is present before trahisse.
     
  9. Bluelady

    Bluelady Senior Member

    Paris, France
    French - France
    I think your translation is wrong. The exact translation is : "there is no Mulsim who does not betray another Muslim ..." = "any Muslim betrays another Muslim ...".

    The ne is quite normal before trahisse ; you could as well have : ... qui ne trahisse pas d'autre musulman ... You need this ne to express the correct translation. How could I explain ? You have a first negative part (n'... point) and a second one (ne [before trahisse]). These two negative groups produce a "positive" fact : someone betrays.

    The French sentence could be re-written like this :

    ça n'existe pas, un musulman qui ne trahit pas un autre musulman (etc.)

    The structure il n'y a pas de ... is somehow literary. But the meaning is : any Muslim betrays another Muslim in a situation etc.

    Finally, to translate your English translation, the French sentence should be : il n'y a point de Musulman qui trahit un autre Musulman, etc.

    The semantic (and significant !) difference is provided by the sole ne before trahisse ...
     
  10. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    The literary ne is indeed a negation per se. So Bluelady is correct regarding the meaning of the sentence: There is no Muslim who does not betray…

    She is however wrong about the en being required. The original French sentence is definitely correct.
     
  11. rzl62 Junior Member

    Chinese - Mandarin
    Strange. I have another example which has the same structure and includes ne, but does not have a negative meaning. Are there any other opinions that can account for this?
     
  12. Bluelady

    Bluelady Senior Member

    Paris, France
    French - France
    Can you give us this example ? It would be easier to compare with the other structures we have been talking about.
     
  13. rzl62 Junior Member

    Chinese - Mandarin
    It won't help any, but it says "Point de Ega qui ne ---[foreign verb] un autre." The translation is clearly and unambiguously "There is no Ega who ---s another.".
     

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