In Latin speech, negō > nōn dīcō. That is, the phrase ‘I deny’ is everywhere preferable to the phrase ‘I do not say’ or ‘I say that…not.’
- I say these things are untrue:
dīcō haec nōn esse vēra — negō haec esse vēra.
- The Stoics claim that nothing is good but what is right:
Stōcī dīcunt quidquam nōn esse bonum nisi honestum sit. — Stōicī negant quidquam esse bonum nisi quod honestum sit.
The Essential AG: 328, 580b
There are several ways to respond ‘no’ in Latin.
1. The first is to repetition the verb of the question and add nōn, which expresses denial.
- Do you sing?—I do not sing: canisne?—nōn canō.
- Does your father jog?—No, he doesn’t: currit parēns?—nōn currit.
2. As with affirmations, there are a number of places where this would get awkward, so the Romans have a variety of negating adverbs to replace the repeated verb.
- Is this a frog?—no it is not: estne rana?—nōn est. (awkward)
- Is this a frog?—nope. estne rana?—nōn.
There a set number of these adverbs, and they sometimes couple to form more emphatic responses.
- nōn, no, not so
- minimē, not at all
- nūllo modō, by no means
Unlike the affirmations, negation responses are fairly homogenous in sense. ‘Nōn‘ is simple the tame counterpart to anything else. Some of the combinations have more a vibrant semantic character:
- minimē vērō, certainly not
- nōn quidem, no way!
- nōn hercle vēro, oh, heavens no!
- Is she as gorgeous as they say?—hell no. estne ut fertur in formā?—nōn hercle vēro.
- Did you already take out the trash?—nope. stramenta exduxistī?—nōn factum.
- Is he really so selfish?—Not at all! estne vērō tantum egoisticus?—minimē vērō.
The Essential AG: 336b
If you readers out there know of any other standard Latin ‘no’s feel free to add them below.