We remember when the second apparition spoke to Macbeth:

Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scorn
The power of man; for none of woman born
Shall harm Macbeth.

We also remember the recent post about how Spanish nada ‘nothing’ developed from the Latin construction non … res nata ‘not … a born thing,’ so it’s hardly surprising to learn that Latin had the similar phrase homines nati ‘people [who have been] born.’ Macbeth’s eventual nemesis aside, that’s ‘everyone,’ and when the Latin phrase occurred in negative constructions it took on the opposite sense, i.e. ‘no one.’ Eventually homines dropped out and nati came to stand for the whole negative expression. As nata had evolved in Old Spanish to nada, so nati eventually became nadi. Then, according to Joan Corominas, because of the influence of forms of haber in compound tenses, a construction like nadi ha venido got converted to naid ha venido. Later naid became naide, and the modern form nadie is finally attested in 1495.

©2014 Steven Schwartzman


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. shoreacres
    Jul 18, 2014 @ 15:16:18

    Amazing how many references came to mind almost at once, associated with Christmas. The natal star, the nativity, and best of all, Palestrina’s Hodie Christus Natus Est.

    And then there’s that wonderful expression, more closely associated with this post, that I never heard until I came South: “In all my born days, I never…”


  2. kathryningrid
    Jul 21, 2014 @ 11:36:06

    Ah, yes, turned out that Macbeth’s enemy ‘was from his mother’s womb untimely ripp’d,’ unfortunately for the usurper, if I remember correctly.


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©2011–2016 Steven Schwartzman
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