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  5. "Ik hoef niet veel te zeggen."

"Ik hoef niet veel te zeggen."

Translation:I do not have to say much.

August 9, 2014

25 Comments


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

How would you phrase "I do not have much to say?" Would it be "ik hoef veel niet te zeggen?"


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

No, I do not have much to say translates to Ik heb niet veel te zeggen

Hoeven is only a translation of to have in the meaning of to be obliged to. In (almost all?) other cases to have is translated to hebben, both for possession and for changing tenses:

  • Ik heb een boek = I have a book
  • Ik lees = I read
  • Ik heb gelezen = I have read

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

Oh yeah, good point :) Thanks


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mossyrock89

I was forgetting that English has two meanings for the same word where Dutch doesn't! Oops!


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

That is an excellent explanation. Thank you.


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

Thanks Susande for the explanation ... this one is tricky!


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

"I do not have much to say (in this case)." would be an obliged meaning too, or am I wrong? It depends on the pronunciation and interpretation of the sentence in context I guess.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Stuart946486

Not really; it would mean more that you have no opinion on this case, or you agree with what has been said and have nothing to add to the discussion.


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

I entered 'I needn't say a lot', which was 'corrected' to 'I mustn't say a lot'. Seems to be the wrong way round.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/as2907

I absolutely agree.


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

Why does Duo fault: I have not much to say? It sounds good in my ears


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

See Susande's answer to TimRosenow's question concerning "I do not have much to say?", which is currently at the top of this discussion forum.

Hoeven is probably related to have, but it's more closely related to behoove. Dutch for have is hebben. An overly literal translation of "Ik hoef niet veel te zeggen" would be the archaic "I behoove not to say much" = "I do not behoove to say much" (Not: "It behooves me not to say much" / "It doesn't behoove me to say much". This has another wrong meaning because in this phrase the meaning of behoove has shifted too much from the original meaning of need.)


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

Thank you for this response. Perhaps I could have put: I do not need to say much


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

Yes that would have been correct.


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

Thank you again. I keep on learning


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

Your English translation is awkward. How about "I don't have much to say.?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/as2907

This question has already been asked three times - and answered twice - in this thread.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/crystall614

can "zeggen" be translated to talk?


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

No. Dutch distinguishes zeggen and praten in the same way that English distinguishes say and talk.


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

How common is it to say 'I need' like this vs by saying 'heb...nodig' ?


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

I do not have much to say should also be correct


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/as2907

This question has already been answered twice in this thread.


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

So : "I do not have much to say" would be .... Ik heb niet veel te zeggen. ???


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

Good question! Here is what I just learned by reading up on hoeven and moeten on a German website, plus some additional conclusions/explanatoins of my own. There are two ways of negating the sentence "Ik moet veel zeggen":

  1. Ik moet niet veel zeggen.
  2. Ik hoef niet veel te zeggen.

First note that hoeven takes te when followed by an infinitive, and moeten doesn't. But this is just a superficial difference. There is a subtle difference of meaning:

  1. It's not necessary, and it's better not to do it.
  2. It's not necessary.

To understand this a bit better, let's look at the meaning of negated must/moeten/müssen in English, Dutch and German. Why? Because this is yet another example where Dutch is halfway between English and German.

  • English: "I must not say much." = "I must (not say much)." = "It is necessary that I do not say much."
  • German: "Ich muss nicht viel sagen." = "Ich (muss nicht) viel sagen." = "It is not necessary that I say much."
  • Dutch: "Ik moet niet veel zeggen." = a weird compromise of the above two interpretations: "It is not necessary that I say much, and maybe I shouldn't."

In all three languages, it is not a priori clear how to parse sentences such as "I must not say much." English speakers and German speakers settled on opposite parsing strategies. For German speakers, not negates the preceding main verb must and therefore the entire sentence. For English speakers, not negates the following infinitive to say and therefore only the complement. Dutch speakers couldn't make up their collective mind to strongly prefer one or the other option. Since the German interpretation results in weaker statements, it's the baseline. Dutch speakers don't go as far as endorsing the English interpretation, but they are affected by it nevertheless.

Of the three sister languages, only German has no problem with negating such sentences involving must. I.e. with elegantly expressing: "It is not true that ... must ... ." The other two need a trick because the usual method of just adding not after the main verb doesn't work in this case.

This trick is to switch to a different verb. In English: "I need not say much." In Dutch: "Ik hoef niet veel te zeggen." (An alternative strategy in English that doesn't work in Dutch is to replace must by have to, which behaves differently under negation. In Dutch this doesn't work because it results in yet another meaning mentioned above by Susande.)

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