How to Say No in Various Languages

Опубликовал Admin
23-10-2020, 16:00
This is a guide to saying no in different languages broken up by language family including the Indo-European languages of the Americas and Europe; the Afro-Asiatic languages of Arabic, Hebrew, Maltese and Swahili; the Sino-Tibetan languages of Mandarin Chinese and Burmese or Myanmar; and finally, learn how to say no in Vietnamese, part of the Austroasiatic language family. Learn how to say and pronounce no, yes, and other related words and phrases in each language. Learn a little bit about the history of the language and read a saying or proverb from that language that includes a negative word like no, nor, or none.

Saying No in an Indo-European Language

  1. Say nee in Afrikaans to say no. No in Afrikaans is pronounced differently than it is spelled and should sound like nee-yu. To say yes you say ja. It is a long and low sound with an h sound like ya-hu. Afrikaans is one of the languages of South Africa. It is a descendant of Dutch, a West Germanic language, brought to the Dutch colony of the Cape of Good Hope in Africa by European settlers in the 17th century. Afrikaans evolved from a mixture of Dutch and other languages including Bantu, Khoisan languages, and English. There are approximately 10 million people total who speak Afrikaans as a native language. It is spoken mostly in South Africa, but it is also spoken some in Botswana, Namibia and Swaziland.
  2. Say não in Portuguese to say no. The pronunciation of não is nõw, and you say it as you would in English but the ow is more nasalized. In Portuguese yes is sim, and it is pronounced as see or as if you are saying the first half of the word sing in English. Portuguese is a Romance language with Latin roots spoken by around 220 million people in the world mainly in Portugal and Brazil but also in other countries like Mozambique, Cape Verde, and Angola Guinea-Bissau, São Tomé and Príncipe. Portuguese is the sixth most spoken language in the world.
    • A Portuguese quote containing the word no is, Não há remédio para o amor, exceto amar ainda mais, meaning that there is no remedy for love but to love more.
  3. Say niet to say no in Russian. No is pronounced nyet. Niet is written Нет in Russian and is the most common Russian word. The Russian word for yes is da. It is pronounced duh. Yes written in Russian is Да. Russian is the eighth most spoken language in the world with 145 million native speakers and 110 second language speakers. It is an official language in the following countries: Abkhazia, which is a part of Georgia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Transnistria, which is a part of Moldova.
    • An expression with the word no in Russian is, Нет. Без муки нет науки. Directly translated this means “without torture no science.” The equivalent meaning in English is something like, “adversity is a good teacher.”
  4. Say nein to say no in German. The emphasis is on the "ei" sound when you pronounce the word nein. Ja is how you say yes in German. German is the tenth most spoken language in the world with 101 million native speakers and 128 million second language speakers. It is an official language of Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy (South Tyrol), Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Poland, Switzerland.
    • You can say “no way” in German by saying, Auf keinen Fall.
    • Nicht is the equivalent of not in English.
    • Kein is another word for no and can mean not any, no one, nobody, none, and not.Niemals means never in German.
    • A saying with a negation in German is, Wenn der Reiter nichts taugt, ist das Pferd schuld. The literal translation of this saying is, “If the rider is no good, it’s the horse’s fault.” This means that one should take responsibility for his/her actions and not blame others or the circumstances for one’s loses.
  5. Say nahi to say no in Hindi. In Hindi, no is written नहीं. No is pronounced nahin and the pronunciation is soft. The emphasis is on the na at the beginning of the word, and the n is nasal. Yes in Hindi is pronounced haa and is spelled हाँ. Hindi is the second most spoken language in the world. 370 million people speak Hindi as their native language and 120 million speak it as a second language. It is an official language in Fiji and India.
    • To say no more politely, add ji to the beginning or end of nahi. This is the same for yes, haa.
    • Although Hindi is the official language of India, there are 22 major languages and 720 dialects spoken in India.
    • A quote that says no in Hindi is, जल में रहकर मगर से बैर ठीक नहीं which translates to you should not have enmity with the crocodile if you are living in the water and means that you should strive to have good relationships with the people you have to live or work with.
    • There are 3 stylistic varieties of Hindi: one used in high courts, journalism, literature, philosophy and religion; another Persianized version that is used in lower courts, films and some genres of literature; and a third Anglicized version for business administration, colleges, and science and technical journals.
  6. Say voch to say no in Armenian. In Armenian, no is written as ոչ and is pronounced votch. Ha is how you say yes in Armenian. Che and ayo are another way to say no and yes in Armenian, respectively. There are approximately 6.7 million people who speak Armenian in the world. 3.4 million live in Armenia and the majority of the remainder live in Georgia and Russia. However, there are also smaller populations of Armenians in Lebanon, Egypt, Azerbaijan, Iraq, France, the United States, and Bulgaria.
    • In Modern Armenian there are two written versions, Western Armenian, Arewmtahayerên, and Eastern Armenian, Arewelahayerên. There are also many dialects of Armenian although the number has been drastically reduced since 1915 when the massacres in Turkey began an exodus.
    • A quote that includes no in Armenian is, Ոչ իմ հալը, ոչ քո հարսանիք գալը, or Voch im hal, voch qo harsaniq gal. The literal translation means, neither my situation, nor you coming to a wedding. And it means something like, I am not in the mood for what you're doing right now.
  7. Say non in French. Non is "no" in French.

Saying No in an Afro-Asiatic Language

  1. Say lo to say no in Hebrew. Lo is pronounced loh. The oh has a low tone, and the emphasis in the pronunciation is on the "L" sound. In Hebrew, yes is written כן, and it is pronounced ken. In ancient times, Hebrew was spoken in Palestine and was starting to be replaced by the Western Aramaic dialect by the 3rd century. In the 9th century, the spoken language of Hebrew declined except in liturgical practices and literature. It wasn't until the 19th and 20th century that the language was revived and made the official language of Israel when it became a nation in 1948. There approximately 5 million native speakers of Hebrew.
    • Hebrew has 22 letters and is written from right to left in a Semitic script.
    • In Hebrew, “I have no idea” is transliterated as, ein li mu-sag and is written, אין לי מושג.
    • A Hebrew saying with lo is, מרוב עצים לא רואים את היער, and it is transliterated as merov etzim lo ro’im eth ha’ya’ar. Directly translated it means that the trees can’t see the forest,and is the same as the English saying that means you should be careful to keep the big picture in mind when struggling through day-to-day life.
  2. Say la in Arabic to say no. You pronounce la with a glottal stop at the end of the word laa’. An example of a glottal stop is between the words “uh” and “oh” in “uh-oh.” To say “no thank you” in the Lebanese dialect of Arabic you would say la` cukran. It is written in Arabic, لا شكرا. To say yes in Arabic is na’am’ or نعم and is pronounced naäam. The middle “a” has a sound like a soft aargh. Arabic is the language of the Qurʾān and the religious language of all muslim people, and it is the most developed of the Semitic languages.
    • Arabic is spoken in Northern Africa, the Arabian peninsula, and parts of the Middle East.There are many countries with Arabic as an official language including Algeria, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Niger, Oman, Palestinian Territories, Saudi Arabia, Quatar, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Western Sahara, and Yemen.
    • Arabic is the fifth most spoken language in the world with 206 million native speakers and 24 million second language speakers.
    • To say, “I have no idea,” you would say, La adril! In Arabic it is written as, لاأدري.
    • A quote in Egyptian Arabic with la is transliterated as la yuldaġ il-mo'men min goHr marratein. Written in Arabic it is, لا يلدغ المؤمن من جحر مرتين, and it literally means the believer is not bitten from the same hole twice. Which is the equivalent to the saying in English, "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.
  3. Say le in Maltese to say no. Le is pronounced as it looks. Iva is yes in Maltese and it is pronounced Eve-a. The Maltese language is close to being a dialect of Arabic, being most closely related to Algerian or Tunisian dialects of Arabic, and it is a Semitic language spoken on the island of Malta. Unlike dialects of Arabic, however, Maltese is heavily influenced by Italian and Sicilian. Also unlike Arabic, Maltese is written in a Latin script. There are two dominant variations of Maltese split by class between the educated upper and middle classes living near cities like the capital, Valletta, and the industrial and agricultural classes that speak a dialect closer to the Arabic roots of Maltese. There are roughly half a million people who speak Maltese in the world.
    • Malta is an archipelago located in the Mediterranean sea between the Northern coast of Africa and Sicily. Malta was first populated by Arabs in 870 CE who stayed until 1090 when it was taken over by Europeans. Malta was ruled by various Europeans including the Sicilians until 1530, the Italians until 1798, and finally the British until 1964 when Malta gained independence.
    • To say, never you would say quatt pronounced ’at. Nothing in Maltese is xejn pronounced sheyn. To say, none you would say hadd pronounced had.
    • A quote from Maltese is, Hadd ma jiehu xejn mieghu, and it means something like no one takes anything with him after he dies.
  4. Say hapana in Swahili to say no. The emphasis is on the "AP" when you pronounce the word hapana. To say yes in Swahili, you would say ndiyo. Swahili is a Bantu language that is the native language of around 10 million people. Most importantly, Swahili is the lingua franca of Eastern Africa and is used to as a bridge language for Africans of different dialects and languages that is used to communicate all the way from Kenya to Tanzania, including the African Great Lakes region.
    • Swahili is a hybrid between the Arabic and Bantu languages. In its beginning, Swahili developed through the contact of Arabic traders with the Bantu-speaking tribes. Much of its vocabulary is borrowed from Arabic while the grammar is from the Bantu language. The original scripts that are found of Swahili were written in Arabic but Swahili now uses the Roman alphabet.
    • To say, "No thank you" in Swahili you would say, Hapana asante.
    • A quote with hapana in Swahili is kuambizana kuko kusikilizana hapana. and means that no one ever listens to advice.

Saying No in a Sino-Tibetan Language

  1. Say to say no in Mandarin Chinese. No is written 不 and pronounced bu4. "Not" in Mandarin is very similar and is written 不是 and pronounced bu2shi4. The 4 in the pronunciation means that it is a high tone falling and should be said like a curt command in English. In Mandarin, there are five tones which determine the meaning of words. The tone determines the meaning of the word as much as the difference between the words horse and mother. For example, depending on the tone given to the word "ma" in Mandarin, it could mean mother (妈), flax (麻), horse (马), scold (骂), or a question participle (吗).
    • Mandarin is the most spoken language in China as well as the world. There are 873 million native speakers of Chinese and 178 million second language speakers. It is an official language in China and Singapore. People in the north of the Yangtze River in China speak Mandarin along with other parts of the population, and overall, it is the native language of ⅔ of the population.
    • There are four types of Mandarin spoken in China with the most prominent form being the form in the capital, Beijing. The form in Beijing is considered Modern Standard Chinese or Guoyu.
    • To say “No, thank you,” you would say bu2xie4, and it is written as 不谢. The tone 2 means that the pronunciation of bu2xie4 is a middle pitch that is rising, much like a question in English. The 4 means that it is a high tone falling and should be said like a curt command in English. An informal way to say, “No need to thank me” or “Not at all” in Mandarin is bu2yong4xie4. It is written, 不用谢.
    • A quote with bù in Mandarin is 不作死就不会死 or bù zuō sǐ jiù bú huì sǐ. Literally translated it means "no zuo no die" which means that if you don’t do foolish things, you won’t be in danger of the repercussions of your folly.
  2. Say ma ho bu in Burmese, or Myanmar, to say no. When using a negation in Burmese, you use the structures, ma + ___ + bu or ma + ___ + neh. The first indicates that the verb did not accomplish what it does, for example, nei ma kaing bu means you did not touch it. Nei ma kaing neh structure means that the verb must not be successful, and the translation is “you do not touch it.” To say yes in Burmese, you say ho de. Burmese is spoken in Myanmar, which was formally known as Burma, and it is located in the western part of mainland Southeast Asia.
    • “Never” in Burmese is be daw hma. “No problem” in Burmese is pyat tha nar ma hoat ba bu.
    • The rounded script of written Burmese comes from the use of palm leaves as the original writing materials. Early Burmese script can be found from as early as the 11th century, and this script was a derivative of the Pāli alphabet of India and Taiwan.
    • Burmese is a tonal language like Mandarin and has three tones, high, low, and creaky as well as a stopped and reduced tone.

Saying No in an Austroasiatic Language

  1. Say không to say no in Vietnamese. No is pronounced khong. To say “No, thank you” in Vietnamese you would say, Da Không Cảm ơn which is pronounced "Ya'a kohng gam uhhn." The respectful way to say yes in Vietnamese is to say, da pronounced ya'a. Another way to give an affirmative is vâng pronounced vuhng.
    • Vietnamese is the official language of Vietnam and is spoken by approximately 70 million people. The dialects in Vietnamese do not differ much more than those of the various parts of the United States except for two rural dialects, Hue and Vinh. Standard Vietnamese is the dialect of the educated near Hanoi, the capital. As a language, much of Vietnamese vocabulary has been borrowed from Chinese.
    • A quote with Không is, Điếc không sợ súng and it means that he who knows nothing doubts nothing.


  • Practice a particular way to say no every day, and/or try to incorporate in your daily life by substituting your own way of saying no with the foreign language's word for no.
  • Try finding a site that has an audio system so you can hear how the word is pronounced, like, or a foreign language site.
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