Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

Multiple negatives

Reading de Saint-Exupéry's Terre des Hommes I came across a sentence with a triple negative:
Il devenait plus évident que Lécrivain non seulement n'avait pas atterri à Casablanca, mais que jamais il n'atterrirait plus nulle part.

It was becoming clearer not only that Lécrivain had not landed at Casablanca, but that he would never again land anywhere.
It struck me that standard English rather loses out by not repeating negatives. In informal speech one can imagine someone saying that the pilot "wouldn't never land nowhere again", but it looks very odd in written form. In the original French, de Saint-Exupéry is able to construct a powerful climax of negatives - "jamais" "n'atterrirait plus" "nulle part" - which is simply not available to translators into English.
Tags: languages: french, writer: antoine de saint-exupery
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