1

… tell it "no nor nothing"?

"Si la vida te dice no, dile no ni ná"

I assume "ná" is "nothing," but the overall meaning escapes me.

Is it anything like "when life gives you lemons"? (Doesn't seem so to me.)

1

It's used to encourage optimism and be positive about life when someone feels like a victim of misfortune and rebels against that reality. It's a triple negative that means 'I don't accept that.' I refuse to believe that what happens is out of your control.

  • "Say 'yeah, right' when life says no." (sarcastically) Sí, como no(burlándose en la desgracia, con sorna).

  • "Say 'yes, I can.' when life says no." Sí, puedo con eso (en rebeldía)

ná = nada = nothing; ni = nor; no = no; ¡No ni ná! = The hell I'm not! = yeah, right!

1

José María Pérez Orozco was a writer and professor of Spanish Language and Literature, and a firm defender of the Andalusian way of speaking. In an interview in the Andalusian regional TV channel, Canal Sur, he stated the following:

Resulta que cuando tú le preguntas a un amigo tuyo, por ejemplo, «Antonio, ¿este año vas a ir al Rocío?», y dice: «No ni na». Y si tú te fijas bien, esa frase son tres negaciones: «No-ni-na». Y es la mayor afirmación que hay en el andaluz. Cuando una persona te dice «No ni na», no te quepa duda de que es que sí. [...] Cuando tú dices «no ni na», estás diciendo: la primera, «no voy a dejar de ir al Rocío»; «ni aunque llueva, truene o ventee»; «na me va a impedir que vaya». Todo eso resumido en tres sílabas.

The most important thing to understand is that no ni na is the biggest affirmation a person can say, similar to «que no qué va», despite the expression being three negations. No ni na is without a trace of doubt a "yes". So your sentence can be understood just as:

If life tells you no, you say "yes".

Spanish English
no voy a dejar de ir al Rocío I shall go to El Rocío whatever it happens
ni aunque llueva, truene o ventee even if it rains, storms or the wind blows
na me va a impedir que vaya nothing's going to stop me

Note that the previous sentence is just an example of the true meaning behind the no ni na expression, and not its true origin.

2
  • In redneck, “hold my beer.” :-) – WGroleau Feb 25 at 18:17
  • @WGroleau in Spain it is becoming quite popular "sujétame el cubata". – Charlie Feb 25 at 18:21

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.