Translation:In reality, we have no proof.
Because We haven't any proof is not proper English. to have in this sentence is a verb, not an auxiliary. Thus, you have to say We don't have any proof. You can also use the construction to have got where have acts as an auxiliary before the verb got, then, you have to say We haven't got any proof
Really? That's quite strange. I remember being corrected by my teacher because of this particular mistake. Of course, I hear it a lot, and I even say it myself, but I always thought that was a mistake. And since there is a justification (either to have acts as a verb, and thus has to preceded by doesn't, or it acts as an auxiliary but has to be followed by a past participle), I thought that made sense. Could you please give me some reference about this particular use of haven't?
Sorry but I don't have any references off hand - if I come across one I will post it. I know that many writers use the structure "haven't" where the word "got" is implied. It sounds far more eloquent to say "I haven't any brothers" than the grotesque sounding "I haven't got any brothers". Of course, one could say "I do not have any brothers" however, for building literary tension, the form "haven't" (or sometimes "have no") seems to be preferable to most writers. At least the French have the right idea about the language needing to "sound right to the ear" so do not stringently stick to strict grammatical rules (eg surrounding pronouns and prepositions). French friends of mine have a terrible time trying to translate (and understand) the word "got" that I find it best to try and avoid this word altogether. ;)
Good question. The online Collins English-French dictionary gives "preuves" as the translation of "evidence" and "preuve" as the translation of "proof", and I think with "aucune" it might even be more accurate to say that we're implying that we don't have a single piece of evidence.
"Ne ... aucun(e)" means "not any" or "not even one".
How French negations actually work is that "ne" provides the negation, and the second word provides the thing negated, which gives a certain clarity, emphasis, or meaning:
- ne jamais – not ever
- ne pas – no step (not a bit, not)
- ne personne – no person
- ne plus – no more
- ne rien – no thing
- ne aucune – no(t) one (not even one, not any)
- ne que – not (other) than
- ne guère – not a lot (hardly, scarcely)
Remarkably, because of their close association in these phrases, it's the "ne" that can get dropped colloquially (for several of these expressions), and the other word from the combination that can end up being sufficient on its own for negation. And this other word can then carry this associated negative meaning in certain other contexts where "ne" would no longer be included.
That is, in context, "jamais", "pas", "personne", "plus", "aucun(e)", and "rien" (and there may be others) can now be negative on their own ("never", "not", "nobody", "no more", "not any", "nothing"), but it's only by association with their use in negations along with "ne" that they've acquired their negative meanings, even though they all have positive meanings etymologically, and most continue to have positive meanings in many current contexts.
But in the full negation phrases that these words form part of, it's only the "ne" that essentially means "no" or "not", if you break the expressions down, so they can't really be considered redundant.