15.7. Negation of minor grammatical constructs

We have a few other constructs that can be negated, all of them based on negating individual words. For such negation, we use the suffix-combining negator, which is nai. nai, by the way, is almost always written as a compound into the previous word that it is negating, although it is a regular separate-word cmavo and the sole member of selma'o NAI.

Most of these negation forms are straightforward, and should be discussed and interpreted in connection with an analysis of the particular construct being negated. Thus, we will not go into much detail here.

The following are places where nai is used:

When attached to tenses and modals (see Section 15.1, Section 15.1, Section 15.1 and Section 15.1), the nai suffix usually indicates a contradictory negation of the tagged bridi. Thus punai as a tense inflection means not-in-the-past, or not-previously, without making any implication about any other time period unless explicitly stated. As a result,

Example 15.77. 


I didn't go to the store.


Example 15.78. 


I didn't go to the store.

mean exactly the same thing, although there may be a difference of emphasis.

Tenses and modals can be logically connected, with the logical connectives containing contradictory negations; this allows negated tenses and modals to be expressed positively using logical connectives. Thus punai je ca means the same thing as pu naje ca.

As a special case, a -nai attached to the interval modifiers of selma'o TAhE, ROI, or ZAhO (explained in Chapter 15) signals a scalar negation:

Example 15.79. 


means that I dance on the ice either zero or else two or more times within the relevant time interval described by the bridi. Example 15.79 is very different from the English use of not once, which is an emphatic way of saying never – that is, exactly zero times.

In indicators and attitudinals of selma'o UI or CAI, nai denotes a polar negation. As discussed in Section 15.1, most indicators have an implicit scale, and nai changes the indicator to refer to the opposite end of the scale. Thus uinai expresses unhappiness, and ienai expresses disagreement (not ambivalence, which is expressed with the neutral or undecided intensity as iecu'i).

Vocative cmavo of selma'o COI are considered a kind of indicator, but one which identifies the listener. Semantically, we could dispense with about half of the COI selma'o words based on the scalar paradigm. For example, co'o could be expressed as coinai. However, this is not generally done.

Most of the COI cmavo are used in what are commonly called protocol situations. These protocols are used, for example, in radio conversations, which often take place in a noisy environment. The negatives of protocol words tend to convey diametrically opposite communications situations (as might be expected). Therefore, only one protocol vocative is dependent on nai: negative acknowledgement, which is je'enai (I didn't get that).

Unlike the attitudinal indicators, which tend to be unimportant in noisy situations, the protocol vocatives become more important. So if, in a noisy environment, a protocol listener makes out only nai, he or she can presume it is a negative acknowledgement and repeat transmission or otherwise respond accordingly. Section 15.1 provides more detail on this topic.

The abstractors of selma'o NU follow the pattern of the tenses and modals. NU allows negative abstractions, especially in compound abstractions connected by logical connectives: su'ujeninai, which corresponds to su'u jenai ni just as punai je ca corresponds to pu naje ca. It is not clear how much use logically connected abstractors will be: see Section 15.1.

A nai attached to a non-logical connective (of selma'o JOI or BIhI) is a scalar negation, and says that the bridi is false under the specified mixture, but that another connective is applicable. Non-logical connectives are discussed in Section 15.1.