QUESTION: Hello Saeed,
(Sorry if my question causes you to lose sleep. It's a puzzler.)
Many languages contain the syllable (sound of): "nyeh"--and by extension or distillation, the plain "n_" sound. (Hence, the English: "No") I suspect it is a throwback to the very origins of language when early humans having either smelt or tasted something bad they expressed disapproval by making the nasal "nyeh" sound.
Two other examples: there is the Russian "Nyet" ("No") and the Hebrew, "Da-NIE-l." (Despite religious claims to the contrary, "Daniel" means "captive." Thus likely, the Hebrew references to the "Tribe of Dan" is a poetic reference to the uncounted Jews kidnapped to become slaves in foreign places.)
I've been querying lots of languages, wondering if each has any words containing the syllable (sounds like: "nyeh" or "nyah" or even just just "nnn...") and if, as in the above examples, the meanings of those words tend to express negativity.
So, what about Farsi? Any opinions & examples?
ANSWER: Hi Dan,
Thanks for the question. Actually it was not a puzzler because I have the answer :)
Yes, we have similar things in Persian (Farsi). But let me tell you something first. We Persian call our language Farsi but it is Parsi (Those arabs who imposed their language on us in 6th a.d. hadn't 4 Persian alphabet characters including پ p, ژ zh, چ ch, گ g). So they changed whatever they couldn't pronounce! They called Parsi as Farsi.
Now your answer.
we have "no" in informal persian as نَه (na). in formal it becomes خِیر (kheyr)means "no".
And for making words and sometimes verbs negative we use prefixes like نا (naa).
ناکجا آباد (naa kojaa aabaad) = neverland
ناچیز (naa chiz)= scrimp (too much little)
نادان (naadaan) or نابخرد (naa bekhrad) = fool (silly)
I hope I have understood your question right and the answer be sufficient.
Plaese don't hesitate to ask me more.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thank you so much, Saeed.
If over time, a few more examples pop into your head--especially if they are particularly surprising ones--I'd appreciate your letting me know.
You are welcome Dan.
Let me help you more, albeit if you can read Persian (I guess you don't). :)
This (Persian) link is a list of prefixes and suffixes in Persian including negative ones:
This link is a great essay in the jurnal of academy of Persian language of Iran about the history of negative prefixes (Persian):