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Senior Member
Poland, Polish
Hey! I find it extremely interesting to compare different nations' perceptions of abstract things by investigating a given word in various languages. This time I'm asking you:
What is the word for "always" and "never" in your language? What is their etymology, what does it imply? I'll give you an example of Polish, my native language.

Always = zawsze ("za" + "wsze" where "za" means "for" and "wsze" is the old Polish way of saying "all", therefore "always" means "for all").

Never = nigdy ("ni" + "gdy" with "ni" meaning "not even, not, nor" and "gdy" meaning "when, if", hence "never" means "not even when").

Thanks in advance for your contributions, I'm looking forward to getting your replies! :)
  • federicoft

    Senior Member
    in Italian is:

    always -> sempre (from Latin 'semper', meaning the same, cognate to Sanscrit 'sam', meaning "once").

    never -> giammai or mai (from Latin 'jam magis' meaning "from now on").


    Senior Member
    Brazílie, portugalština
    In Portuguese:
    always - sempre (see Italian above)
    never - nunca (from Latin nunquam)/jamais (see Italian above)


    Denmark, Danish
    In Danish:

    always = altid (al means all and tid means time, hence alltime)
    never = aldrig. I don't know the origin of this word. I will try to find out, or maybe another person knows.


    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Dutch :
    - altijd (all the time)
    - nooit (niet ooit, not even once)

    In a West Flemish dialect I hear 'alsan', which reminds me of the 'sam' mentioned above, but it seems too unlikely --- or could be it an ingweonism (brought along by the Danes/ Normans/... ???) ?


    Senior Member
    In Bulgarian:

    vinagi - aways (no idea, but it doesn't seem to be a compound word)

    nikoga - never (ni = not even/not/nor, koga = when)

    I like looking in the grammer of languages for the same reason. How you make sence of things gives idea of outlook.


    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Thanks, E, but in fact I mean to ask: where else do you use that temporal suffix ? (We in Dutch would have to make a compound, do not have a suffix, I think)

    And is it general (all the time) somehow ?


    Senior Member
    Lithuania Czech
    In Czech:
    always = vždy (probably vše(all) + kdy(when))
    newer = nikdy ( (absolute) antonymous to kdy) (not simply no or not)

    In Lithuanian:
    always = visada (probably visas(all) + kada(when))
    newer = niekada ( (absolute) antonymous to kada)

    (in this aspect Lithuanian and Czech are similar)
    In Greek:
    Always: «Πάντοτε» ('pandote, adv.) deriving from the Classical «πάντοτε» ('păntŏtĕ) compound formed with the joining together of the pronoun «πᾶς, πᾶσα, πᾶν» (pās m., 'pāsă f., pān n.)-->all, the whole, everyone + enclitic particle «τε» (tĕ)
    Never: «Ποτέ» (po'te, adv.) deriving from the Classical «ποτὲ» (pŏ'tĕ) compound formed with the joining together of the interrogative pronominal root «πὸ-» (pŏ-, stressed) or indefinite pronominal «πο-» (pŏ-, unstressed), from PIE base *kʷo-, what + enclitic particle «τε» (tĕ)


    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    No one has mentioned Spanish
    Sempre (always) from "semper" (always) in Latin (see Italian description)
    Nunca (never) from "nunquam". It too already meant "never" in Latin. Maybe it's formed of the particles "nunc + quam". Sorry my Latin is not so good anymore. Someone else help?


    Senior Member
    Finnish: aina <> ei koskaan (ei ikinä)

    'Ei' is the negation verb.

    But how do you say "ever" in your languages? Have you ever done this/that...? In Italian they use 'mai', in Dutch 'ooit', in Finnish 'koskaan', so the negation part is simply omitted.


    Senior Member

    always: siempre
    never: nunca or jamás


    always: എപ്പോഴും eetə neeravum
    never: ഒരിക്കലുമില്ല *
    (* it means ''not even once'' and is used only when isolated, in a sentence
    the normal usage is: orikkaalum (''even a single time'') plus a verb in the negative conjugation :) )


    always: sènpre
    never: mai

    Cape Verdean Creole (Sotavento/Leeward variety):

    always: sénpri
    never: nunka
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    Senior Member
    English - South Africa
    In Afrikaans (South African derivative of Dutch):
    Always: altyd
    Never: nooit (n- being the prefix that negates the word -ooit which means ever)

    isiZulu (most-spoken native language in South Africa, as well as most-spoken language in South Africa):
    Never: phinde (although this does depend on context)
    Always: njalo


    Senior Member
    In Russian:
    always - всегда (vsegda)
    never - никогда (nikogda)
    - "always" contains the root "vse"/"ves" (expressing the idea of "all", "whole", "every" - just like in English: "al-ways"), while "gda" has unclear etymology;
    - "never" is actually "ni-" (negative prefix) + "kogda" ("when"). Something like "nowhen". :)


    Всегда seems to consist of vse (all) + kogda (when), i.e. follow the pattern of Czech and Lithuanian.

    It seems that the Slavic equivalents of never all follow the same pattern: no + when. It's the same in Ukrainian: ніколи (nikoly, no + when). The Ukrainian word for always is завжди (zavzhdy).


    Senior Member

    always = секогаш (sékogaš); сè "all", "whole", "everything" + кога "when" +
    never = никогаш (níkogaš); ни "neither", "nor" + кога "when" +

    (nékogaš); не- "~some" + кога "when"+ ; = sometime, sometimes, occasionally, formerly...
    не- (ne-) = a prefix used to derive indefinite forms of interrogative adverbs, determiners, and pronouns.
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