Modern Provençal: Part 4


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This is part four in a series on the modern Provençal language. See part one to start from the beginning.

In this article we will take a deeper look at negation.

Oil painting of cliffs and sea.
De klippenkust van Sanary (Provence) by Anna Boch, Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent

Table of Contents

  1. First article in the series
  2. Previous article in the series
  3. Next article in the series
  4. All articles in the series
  5. Disclaimer
  6. Negation


I am not a native speaker, nor any kind of authority on Provence or the Provençal language. I'm compiling these notes from limited and fragmented resources as a way to teach myself, and while I've made every effort to be as accurate and in-depth as possible, mistakes are bound to happen.

I try to verify and weigh information against multiple sources, but something may ultimately come down to a difference between dialects or individual speakers. If you have any comments or corrections, please contact me, including your source(s) and/or credentials.

For now, consider this a work-in-progress.


We've already seen how to negate a sentence:

L'amiga novèla de la dròlla manja pas la carn
The girl's new friend does not eat meat
Marià e sa sòrre an pas de cats
Maria and her sister don't have any cats
A Jacòb li agradan pas lei pomas o lei peras
Jacòb doesn't like apples or pears.

The word ges is sometimes used as a synonym for pas or to mean "not at all":

Beve ges dau vin
I don't drink wine (at all)
La comprenon ges
They don't understand it (at all)

The word ren means "nothing" or "not anything":

Vesèm ren
We don't see anything
Ditz ren a ela
He/she says nothing to her

The opposite, while not exactly a negative, is que which means "only" or "just". It can be combined with ren to mean "nothing but":

Lo brau vòu que dormir
The bull just wants to sleep
La trobairitz escriu que lei poèmas d'amor
The trobairitz only writes love poems
Lei cavaus de Marià bevon ren que dau vin roge
Maria's horses drink nothing but red wine

The word jamai means "never":

Aprenon jamai
They never learn
Risètz jamai de mei galejadas
You never laugh at my jokes

The word plus means "no more", "no longer", or "not anymore":

L'aiga bolhe plus
The water doesn't boil anymore
Leis aucèus cantan plus
The birds sing no more
Avèm plus lo libre
We no longer have the book

The word gaire means 'barely':

Sabe gaire coma cosinar
I barely know how to cook
Es gaire un mormolh
It is barely a whisper

The word degun means 'no one', 'anyone', or 'not anyone':

I a degun aicí
There is no one here
Ame degun qu'ela
I don't love anyone but her
Ausètz degun defòra?
Do you hear anyone outside?
Degun es ocupat per ara
No one is busy at the moment
No one is busy right now

The word enluòc means 'nowhere' or 'not anywhere':

Vau enluòc
I'm not going anywhere
L'aranha es enluòc
The spider is nowhere

To say "neither A nor B" use pas A ni B:

L'insècte es pas jaune ni roge ni verd
The insect is neither yellow nor red nor green
Vese pas la fantauma ni l'ause
I neither see the ghost nor hear it

The word non is sometimes used in older texts instead of pas:

L'òme non saup
The man doesn't know

While non is no longer used this way in the modern language, it is sometimes used together with pas as a double negative, to emphasize:

L'òme non saup pas
The man really doesn't know
Non pas!
No, really!