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I had listened this sentence somewhere, but couldn't recall where. Today I listened the same sentence in the song "Wanna Know" by "Obie Trice".

So what is the meaning of the line,

You speak no English

To me it appears that it means that you do not speak any kind of English.

Edit

I am a bit confused with the meaning of the word any here. When does the word no become any?

I know that a sentence like "I don't care about nobody" means "I don't care about anybody". Does "no" become "any" only in double-negative type of sentences? But there are sentences like, "I have no pen" mean "I don't have any pen". That is "no" is equivalent to "any" in usual sentences also.

Another thing, when we say "I have no pen", it means that "I don't have any type of pen. So a sentence like "I have no X" requires there to be a number of different types of X to exist. But in some sentences like "I have no milk", it means "I don't have any amount of milk". Could you clear the things up, when is no=any kind of and when is any=any amount of. Still I can understand when any=any amount or any=any kind of, from the context, but I can't conceive an objective criteria for this.

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    Or it could mean that "I don't understand anything you say." – M.A.R. ಠ_ಠ Jan 17 '15 at 16:11
  • You have written in all of the question that no=any kind of. I think this is a typing mistake, as it seems like you understand that no = not any kind of. – wizzwizz4 Jan 6 '16 at 18:20
  • Oh, and I recommend not learning English from rap songs, as quite often they use massive amounts of slang, and sometimes very offensive words. And I mean really offensive (e.g. n**ger). This is what sells rap songs, unfortunately! – wizzwizz4 Jan 6 '16 at 18:26
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You speak no English (= “You don’t speak any English”) means, literally, “You have no ability to speak English” rather than “You don’t speak any kind or dialect of English”.

In the context of the song, however, You speak no English is a metaphor (or, arguably, a synechdoche) for “You are ignorant and inarticulate”—specifically, “You have no artistic sensibility”.

Four niggas in a whip
All foes say they ain’t fucking with Trice shit
Somebody’s lying, I’m undenying, denying me means that
The driver got influence over you on certain things
Be distinguished, just cuz you ain’t feeling his favorite emcee
Don’t mean you speak no English

Hop out the car, catch the bus
At least you be established as the man that you are

Obie Trice invites his listeners to assert their own musical preferences and renounce the ‘influence’ of those who have achieved material success (a whip is a Mercedes or similar expensive, high-status car) when they sneer at Obie’s music.

Just because you’re unimpressed by their favorite artists doesn’t mean that you have no musical taste.

  • I am a bit confused with the meaning of the word any here. When does the word no become any? I know that a sentence like "I don't care about nobody" means I don't care about anybody. Does no become any only in double-negative type of sentences? But the are sentences like, "I have no pen" which means "I don't have any pen". – user31782 Jan 17 '15 at 18:18
  • Another thing, when we say "I have no pen", it means that I don't have any type of pen. So a sentence like "I have no X" requires there to be a number of different types of X to exist. But some sentences like "I have no milk", here it means I don't have any amount of milk. Could you clear the things up, when is no=any kind of and when is any=any amount of. Still I can understand when any=any amount or any=any kind of, but I can't conceive an objective critera for this. – user31782 Jan 17 '15 at 18:23
  • This is probably more insight than you would ever need into Afro American Vernacular English - AAVE – Tetsujin Jan 17 '15 at 18:25
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    btw, isn't 'all foes say' actually [in reasonably standard E] 'all four are saying' rather than 'all enemies are saying' - from 'all four is say' ? – Tetsujin Jan 17 '15 at 18:29
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    My recommendation, user31782, would be to avoid drawing any general principles from Obie's word choices. "Don't speak no English" is a very idiomatic way of talking. It derives from mocking broken-English, by using the wrong form of the verb "to do" and using a double negative. These are common mistakes people pick up when trying to learn English by pure immersion (no schooling), so you don't want to accidentally learn bad habits from Obie! – Cort Ammon Jan 17 '15 at 22:06
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In the context of the song you mentioned,

don't mean you speak no English

means

Speak up. Don't act like you don't know how to speak English.

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