Translation:He said no.
と is being used in this sentence as the quotative particle, a particle used after a word, phrase, or sentence to designate that it is quoted speech, speech said by someone else. English does not have a direct equivalent to this word.
Not hearing the "言" in the audio... just barely a "i"? Is that just how Japanese works?
I can hear it, but you're right, it's very subtle. Maybe you already know the word いいえ well so you didn't notice, but the double い in that word is the same いい in 言いました.
~ています form indicates a continuous state of doing or being. You'll notice the translations here are "what was she sayING" vs. "he SAID no." Plain ~ます form would be translated as "says," as opppsed to the former two.
~ます indicates a habitual/regular doing ("I eat fruit") or indicates intent to do ("i will eat fruit"). It is better described as Imperfective Tense than Present, as it implies that the action is not in a state of completion, wherever in that process you may be.
~ています is a Stative Tense, indicating a present state of doing or being. Also better described this way than as a Present Tense. 食べています (I am eating) as opposed to 食べます (I eat), for example.
A better example would be 知っています (I am knowing) as opposed to 知ります(I know), where knowing something is seen more as a state of having knowledge than English's more encompassing knowing of something. To just say 知ります would indicate an imperfective state of coming to know something, or simply a habit of coming to know things on a regular basis, but once something is known, it changes to the stative tense of being known, as it can not be un-known.
....it can get a bit confusing, but that's why you should find a way to take a course from a teacher rather than relying on duo to get you by :)
Thanks for the reply and explanation. I am already taking a class and I'm just doing Duolingo to see if it helps. I thought that と言うalways becomes と言っていましたinstead of と言いました similar to how 知るbecomes 知っています。
The quotative particle, used to denote a word or phrase that is being quoted.