It's not nothing.

modus.irrealis

Senior Member
English, Canada
Hi,

I'm having a lot of trouble figuring out how to translate this into Greek while maintaining a similar construction. I, of course, can't say "Δεν είναι τίποτα" since that's basically the exact opposite. Do I have to say something like "είναι κάτι" or is there a way in Greek to get two negatives to cancel each other out?
 
  • ireney

    Modistra
    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    Χμμμμ
    "δεν είναι και το τίποτα" might work depending on the context. Have to catch up with Morpheus before I can think of anything else though.
     

    skatoulitsa

    Senior Member
    Greek, Greece
    Hmmm... I don't think that double negation can work in greek the same way it does in english. In english double negation gives an affirmative, but I can't think of a case in greek that the same happens. I think greek is closer to spanish in that aspect, that double negation is used as a redundancy, and negations do not falsify each other. For example we say "δεν ξέρω τίποτα". Both underlined words are negatives, but still the phrase means "I know nothing".

    I'll keep thinking about it though. I'll keep you posted if anything comes up :)
     

    ics

    Senior Member
    greek/greece
    Modus,
    could you please make an example with this expression? I think I understand it, but I like to understand also the tone you use.! “Είναι κάτι” looks ok to me, but you know my english is….. mpliah!!
     

    ireney

    Modistra
    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    Double negation works in Greek too in most of the cases "Δεν σου είπα να μην πας" means I told you to go. "Δεν είναι για τους μη-κατέχοντες" etc.

    However it's not a hard-set rule as "δεν είναι τίποτα" και "δεν είναι κανείς" shows.

    Usually the use of "και ο/η/το" ή "και για" makes a sentence mean the opposite of what it would without it
    Δεν είναι για κλαματα
    Δεν είναι και για κλάματα

    (ούτε αυτό είναι απόλυτο βέβαια)

    Στον προφορικό λόγο το "δεν είναι τίποτα" μπορεί να σημαίνει και "It's not nothing"
    Α: Έλα ρε, και τι έγινε που έχασες 1000 ευρό; 1000 ευρό είναι τίποτα.
    Β: Δεν είναι τίποτα ρε! Γιατί αν είναι να μου χαρίσεις δυο πεντακοσάρικα!
     

    skatoulitsa

    Senior Member
    Greek, Greece
    ireney said:
    Usually the use of "και ο/η/το" ή "και για" makes a sentence mean the opposite of what it would without it
    Δεν είναι για κλαματα
    Δεν είναι και για κλάματα
    To me both of these mean the same...
     

    ireney

    Modistra
    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    Urgh! Wrong example! You are right of course skatoulitsa. I'd edit my post but that would be cheating. Whoops!
     

    MissPrudish

    Senior Member
    Greek
    Hmm I think that "Δεν είναι τίποτα" can actually be used the way you want it, depending on the tone of your voice.
    Or maybe something like "Όχι και δεν είναι τίποτα!" but this sounds more like arguing with someone.
     

    modus.irrealis

    Senior Member
    English, Canada
    I didn't really have a specific example in mind, but I use the English phrase mostly in two ways. As a response to someone who says "It's nothing." For example:

    -- Look what I can do
    -- Pff... that's nothing.
    -- It's not nothing.

    Here it means "It is not the case that it is nothing" and is more emphatic than saying "It's something" since it directly contradicts the previous comment.

    The other context would be when somebody implies that something is unimportant or minimal and you want to say that at least it's a beginning. For example:

    -- Wow, that team sucks.
    -- And they've made one lineup change.
    -- Well, that's not nothing.

    Here "not nothing" is less emphatic than "something." If the person had said here "that's something" they would be making a stronger statement that that one lineup change actually meant, well, something. If I wanted to be sarcastic, I'd have to use "Ooh, that's something" because it is stronger.

    That's probably not that clear but I tried thinking about which of your suggestions would make sense in Greek but I can convince myself that anything and nothing works. Hopefully this gives a bit more context to you guys for what I'm aiming at.
     

    ireney

    Modistra
    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    For the first one I'd go with
    "Οχι και τίποτα"
    (The "και" comment I made before applies to double negatives such as this one who do not negate it's other. In this case kai makes it mean the opposite)

    For the second I'd probably go with
    "Κάτι είναι κι αυτό"
    While it does mean that 'that's something' it means that this 'something' is small. It isn't nothing but definately not worth to be called "something"
     

    ics

    Senior Member
    greek/greece
    Modus, I think the most important in this case, as miss prudish said, is your tone of voice!…

    For the 1st dialogue I’d say
    (in black the parts you must emphasize)
    As miss prudish said: Oχι(και)δενείναιτίποτα!! (in this case you repeat the phrase:“den ine tipota” said by B person. I think that “kai” is facoltative, but maybe I’m wrong, anyway I think nobody will notice the difference.. - What other Greeks say???)
    or
    Aυτό δεν είναι τίποτα;;;!!!! (= is this nothing?)? I’m not sure for the english….
    Or
    Δεν είναι τίποτα;;;!!…. (with interrogation mark!)
    Or
    Ireney’s "Οχι και τίποτα" / «ε όχι και τίποτα!!»
    or

    just ignore him!!!!!


    For the 2nd I can only intuite (because I’m not sure I’ ve caught the meaning!!)
    Well, αυτό είναι κάτι

    Hope that helps you…
     

    ireney

    Modistra
    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    Minor note to ics' excellent post:
    Aυτό δεν είναι τίποτα;;;!!!! translates into This is nothing?, or You call this nothing?

    Oh and someone studies Italian(?) Yes, kai is optional in your first example; it's used for emphasis :), showing that the person has gone too far calling 'it' nothing.
     

    modus.irrealis

    Senior Member
    English, Canada
    Thanks for the responses. I've added everything to my list of stock phrases, and I'll remember that it's all about my tone (even if that's not really my style :D).
     
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