"Li nenial manĝus viandon."

Translation:He would not eat meat for any reason.

June 20, 2015

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It seems like this is pretty ambiguous - would he eat meat (for no reason), or not eat meat (for any reason)?

In English you might emphasise the negative as "He would not eat meat, not for any reason.", but that could be read as he had no reason for not eating meat. To be properly explicit would take a few more words still.


I got this wrong precisely because of this ambiguity. :(

Does anyone know how one would say "He would eat meat for no reason" then?


Just a guess - "He would eat meat for ANY reason", "Li ĉial manĝus viandon"? It's not quite the same sentence, but it gets the point across.


There is a subtle difference between "ĉial" and "ial ajn".

"Li ĉial manĝus viandon" = "He would have every reason to eat meat" -- because his doctor said he has a B-vitamin deficiency, because he likes the taste, because he likes hunting, because of every other motivation one might have.

"He would eat meat for any reason" = "Li ial ajn manĝus viandon", which would indicate to me that he loves meat so much that he would use any excuse to eat it.


According to PMEG, the meaning can only be "He would not eat meat for any reason". The explanation is here: http://bertilow.com/pmeg/gramatiko/e-vortecaj_vortetoj/ceteraj/tabelvortoj_al.html#i-hgh


Excerpt for those who are lazy: "Ekzistas tamen Fundamenta regulo, ke NENI-vortoj neas la verbon. Nenial oni faru escepton por nenial." Basically there's no need to emphasize the negative because neni words do that by default.


It can be "He would not eat meat for any reason" or "For no reason would he eat meat" which are equivelant in English.

Note that it is different from "He would eat meat for no reason" which implies he would actually eat meat and lacks a reason.


Other vortaroj (like the one on lernu.net) translate nenial as "for no reason", so "He would eat meat for no reason" would seem like a reasonable translation.

It seems the problem may be that "for no reason" is really a bad translation. This is a problem with English: compare "For no reason I would eat meat" "For no reason would I eat meat".

You can find the consistency in Esperanto by swapping out different ĉi- and neni- correlatives in the sentence. Then you're talking about eating meat everywhere, always, or of every kind, vs nowhere, never, or of no kind. In each case the neni- correlative negates the verb it modifies, as opposed to "for no reason" in English, which generally doesn't behave in this way.


If you want say that you would indeed do something, despite having no reason to do so, then you should use "senkauxze" (and not "nenial"). When you use words such as "nenial", they negate the verb. Here is the PMEG explanation: http://bertilow.com/pmeg/gramatiko/e-vortecaj_vortetoj/ceteraj/tabelvortoj_al.html#i-hgh

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