https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VioletteNoire

"Not all children like apples" in French?

I was learning German from French yesterday, and I got this sentence "Nicht alle Kinder mögen Äpfel", which I interpreted as "Not all children like apples" and thus translated it as « Pas tous les enfants aiment les pommes », which was marked wrong, and someone explained in the comments that it should be « Tous les enfants n'aiment pas les pommes »...

Now my question is, in French, is it impossible to differentiate between these two vastly different sentences?!...

"All children don't like apples" and "Not all children like apples" mean absolutely different things. With the former meaning that 100% of the children don't like apples, and the latter meaning that some children like apples and some don't...

There are even symbols for it... (∀ and ∃): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_quantification

Please tell me there is a way to differentiate between the two in French...

July 18, 2016

10 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jrikhal

Now my question is, in French, is it impossible to differentiate between these two vastly different sentences?!...

Yes it is possible to differentiate.

If you fear the context will not be enough, use Aucun enfant n'aime les pommes. vs. Certains enfants n'aiment pas les pommes. or Certains enfants aiment les pommes..

If the context is enough, then Tous les enfants n'aiment pas les pommes. is ok.

My doubt: how two express those two things in German. ;)

July 18, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VioletteNoire

Thank you!

I searched the two sentences on Duolingo and it seems that German does make this distinction:

  • "Alle Kinder mögen keine Äpfel" - "All children do not like apples"
  • "Nicht alle Kinder mögen Äpfel" - "Not all children like apples"
July 18, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mattcolor

Does "Kein Kind mag Äpfel" also work for the first sentence?

July 18, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ryan47435765

Couldn't one also have a sentence "Alle Kinder mögen Äpfel nicht"? It's the distinction between not liking apples and liking no apples (or not liking any apples).

July 19, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/deSinuapa

Since I see you are also doing Spanish, the translation would have the same structure; namely, affirm a condition then prepend "no" to the phrase:

<pre> A todos los niños les gustan las manzanas. </pre>

No a todos los niños les gustan las manzanas.

This convention maintains the semantics as in English. In both languages, this "no/not" stands for "It is not the case that"; this negation does not play the role of a universal quantifier. Whereas natural human languages are full of ambiguities and inconsistencies, formal, symbolic logic strives to strip them of such by reducing grammars into a small subset of symbols, including the universal quantifiers and operators (not, and, or).

July 18, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VioletteNoire

Thank you!

And yep, the ambiguities in human languages drive me crazy...

In your opinion, is the opposite of 'all' - 'exactly none', or any quantity between all and none, exclusive?

July 18, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/deSinuapa

The difficulty here is the notion of "opposite". If we think in terms of things lay out on a a line (say 0 through 100) with "all" being 100 and nothing being 0, then, yes, the opposite of all is exactly none; however, in terms of sets, like children at a park (with some eating ice cream and other apples), then "opposite" will most likely not convey what we mean to say. For that reason, the symbols ∀ (Universal quantifier; i.e., true for all children) and ∃ (Existential quantifier; true for at least one child) are more precise. Well, I hope I'm not making things worse.

July 20, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Koopafro

"Pas tous les enfants aiment les pommes" isn't correct, hence their different translation. If I remember well, both are "présent de vérité générale" which means it's right for all children and all apples and explains why it's difficult to tell the difference.

As for those specific translations, I would only use "tous les enfants n'aiment pas les pommes" for "all children don't like apples" and place the negation elsewhere for "not all children like apples" to avoid the confusion : "les enfants n'aiment pas tous les pommes".

July 18, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VioletteNoire

Thank you, but wouldn't « Les enfants n'aiment pas tous les pommes » mean something along the lines of "Children don't like all apples"? As in the children don't like every apple in a group of apples?

July 18, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Koopafro

Nope, since apple is feminine (une pomme), it's clear the sentence refers to the children (un enfant). It would be "les enfants n'aiment pas toutes les pommes" otherwise.

That also means that solution works in that specific case and "les filles n'aiment pas toutes les pommes" would still be ambiguous and would need another reformulation or rely on context.

Also, thanks for that German explanation above, it'll probably be useful.

July 18, 2016
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