Ayola A Constructed Language Linking the Global Community
Answering a Long-Posed Question: Negation

Clarification Needed – 3.1.2 Negation


I understand the overall concept for needing to negate an entire sentence as opposed to a part of speech. However, I’m not sure if I am understanding the actual examples in the section.


For instance, “This bus is not going south” doesn’t sound like a sentence where the entire sentence is being negated, just the direction that the bus is going (“There is a bus, it is going somewhere, but it is not going in a southern direction”). If the affirmative equivalent of the sentence is “This bus is going south,” wouldn’t the entire sentence being negative be the equivalent of “there is no bus going south” or even “there is no bus going anywhere”?


Perhaps part of my difficulty is in the “It is not the case that” dynamic. Would “Nio” be used with a negative sentence such as “There is no cup on top of the table” [It is not the case that there is a cup on the table] (positive equivalent “there is a cup on the table”). By adding “no” in front of ‘cup’ instead of “Nio” in front of the whole sentence, would “There is no cup on the table” mean “There is something on the table but it is not a cup”?


Thank you.


~~Steve, 2013/08/29 at 5:29 AM

On the behalf of Dr. Richard Stimets:
Dear Steve,
I apologize for taking so long to reply to the question which you posed last fall about the scope of negation using the negative words no and nio in Ayola. This question is not an easy one and I don’t claim to have a complete answer to it yet, but let me explain my current thinking on the subject.
Let us consider your first example. Concerning the sentence This bus is not going south. a question arises as to the scope of the negative word not. Is it negating the entire verb phrase is going south only the verb aspect is going or only the directional adverb south(=in a southerly direction). You favor the third of these 3 choices, I think, because you are imagining the most common context in which the sentence might be stated: You are on the bus, it clearly is going somewhere, but not in a southerly direction. However, lets imagine a different context: You are in the control room of the bus terminal and a controller is monitoring the current positions of the buses in the system on a computer monitor. He points to one of the blips on the monitor and says either of the following sentence pairs:

(1) This bus is not going south. It is coming north. (negation of the entire verb phrase)


(2) This bus is not going south. It has already gone south. (negation of verb with aspect)

The sentence pair appropriate to your choice is as follows:

(3) This bus is not going south. It is going north. (negation of directional adverb)

Thus, all 3 choices of scope are logical possibilities.
I think that our policy in Ayola should be to regard the scope of no (not) as normally covering the entire verb phrase which follows it or a selected part of that phrase depending on context. Any potential ambiguity can be resolved by a follow-up sentence which clearly indicates which item is being negated as shown in the above 3 sentence pairs.
These 3 sentence pairs in Ayola would be as follows:

(1) Tisa buso no naganats alsude. Dwa navenats alnorde.


(2) Tisa buso no naganats alsude. Dwa deje niganats alsude.


(3) Tisa buso no naganats alsude. Dwa naganats alnorde.

Now, consider the negative sentence using no together with the corresponding negative sentence using the sentence negation word nio.

(1) Tisa buso no naganats alsude. This bus is not going south.


(2) Nio tisa buso neganats alsude. It is not true that this bus is going south.

In this case, the 2 sentences are identical in meaning. Negation of any one of the 3 items discussed above, namely the entire verb phrase, the verb with aspect or the directional adverb negates the entire sentence. Although Ayola provides a compact way of negating entire sentences using the short word nio, nio is still 1 syllable longer than no. We assume that, when a sentence using no is identical in meaning to one involving nio, Ayola speakers will prefer the sentence using no.
So why do we need nio at all? Nio is required because, for sentences containing some prepositions and conjunctions, the sentence using no before the verb phrase is not equivalent to the sentence using nio before the entire sentence. The prepositions and their associated conjunctions can be divided into 2 groups.

Group 1: Sentence (nio)=Sentence (no)


Location in time or space: atu, anu, etu, enu, etc.; anke, enke, etc.


Feature: avu/nevu


Means: medu/nonmedu


Degree, Rate: kwantu, reytu


Group 2: Sentence (nio)≠Sentence (no)


Extent in Time or Space: dumu, (for); dumke, (for)ke


Cause, Purpose: kawsu/trotsu, furu; kawske/trotske, furke


Reciprocation, Response: pwaru, respu, inamu; pwarke


Association: naku/kontru, banu; nakke


Counteraction: kwatneru; kawnterku

Here are some examples from Group 1:

(1) La klaseo no natcyats atu oco. This class does not begin at eight.


Nio la klaseo natcyats atu oco. It is not true that the class begins at eight.


(2) Moy no ludits enu Lowel. We did not play in Lowell.


Nio moy ludits enu Lowel. It is not true that we played in Lowell.


(3) Dik no lergits anke Djastin lergits. Dick did not read when Justin read.


Nio Dik lergits anke Djastin lergits. It is not true that Dick read when Justin read.


(4) Djan no viyadjuts avu dyaza valiso. John will not travel with his suitcase.


Nio Djan viyadjuts avu dyaza valiso. It is not true that John will travel with his suitcase.


(5) Deyv no reparits la tablo medu martelo. Dave did not fix the table with a hammer.


Nio Deyv reparits la tablo medu martelo. It is not true that Dave fixed the table with a hammer.

It these cases, in which the corresponding sentences are equivalent, the sentence with no is preferred as is its equivalent in English.
Here are some examples in Group 2:

(1) Dwa no pluvetcits dumu una semano. It did not rain for one week.


Nio dwa pluvetcits dumu una semano. It is not true that it rained for one week.


(2) Myo no kurits kawsu vu. I did not run because of you.


Nio myo kurits kawsu vu. It is not true that I ran because of you.


(3) Myo no kurits kawske vu no estits sara. I did not run because you were not well.


Nio myo kurits kawske vu no esits sara. It is not true that I ran because you were not well.

In these cases, there is a clear difference in meaning between the corresponding sentences. In (1), the first sentence states the non-occurrence of an event (not raining) lasted for 1 week, whereas the second sentence negates the statement that the occurrence of an event (raining) lasted for 1 week. In (2), the first sentence states that the non-occurrence of an event (not running) happened because of a certain reason, whereas the second sentence negates the statement that the occurrence of an event (running) happened for the same reason; and similarly, with others. In English, the first sentence of each pair is ambiguous because the scope of not is not well defined. These sentences can be disambiguated by transposing the prepositional phrase or conjunctive clause to the beginning of the sentence:

(1) For one week, it did not rain.


(2) Because of you, I did not run.


(3) Because you were not well, I did not run.

However, in Ayola, we may eliminate that ambiguity by grouping the prepositions and conjunctions into the 2 groups and limiting the scope of no with members of Group 2 to include only words up to the preposition or conjunction.
Thus nio need only be used where it is intended that a sentence containing a preposition or conjunction in Group 2 be negated. In all other cases, sentence negation may be expressed by placing no in front of the verb phrase as is done with not in English.
Your sentences in your last paragraph concerning the cup on the table would best be translated as follows:

(1) Dze no estats taso onu la tablo. There is not a cup on the table.


Nio dze estats taso onu la tablo. It is not true that there is a cup on the table.

These sentences are equivalent in meaning because the preposition onu is in Group 1, so the sentence using no is preferred.

(2) Dze estats nula taso onu la tablo. There is no cup on the table.

Finally, none of the foregoing sentences have asserted that there is anything on the table. If one wishes to assert the there is something on the table, but it is not a cup, one may say:

(3) Dze estats nontaso onu la tablo. There is a non-cup on the table.

Ayola permits free usage of the prefix non- with nouns, whereas English is more restrictive, using it in a few words such as non-metal, non-citizen, etc.
Thank you for your excellent question as it brought some interesting avenues to explore within Ayola.
Dick Stimets

Ayola Research Group


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *