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Paolino

A question for those who speak EYE-talian

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Alright, simply put, there are some words in Italian that have the same meaning in English when translated, but have a secondary subtle underlying meaning. There are a couple of instances I've been unable to find rules for.

An example of what I mean:

questione

domanda

Both mean: question. Questione is a question or a topic brought up for discussion/debate/argument. Domanda is simply a question in general.

spedire

mandare

Both mean: to send. What's the difference?

differente

diverse

Both mean: different. What's the difference?

Weird thing is, I can use them properly and somehow know which one goes where. But I do not know the rules.

Little help?

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I don't know Italian, but i can see shades of meaning that separate each of the pairs you gave as examples.

The first pair:

Questione - As in "begs the question", a topic or subject for consideration, a noun

domanda - I see "demand" in there, a more direct question, easily a verb

And so on

Edited by Camino LS6
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differente - literal, not the same as, concerning two things

diverse - broader, indicates a range of differences

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spedire - literal, casual, a generic form of the verb "to send", as in "I sent a letter"

mandare - more specific, authortarian, a mandate, as in "sent on a mission" or "sent on my behalf"

Edited by Camino LS6
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Of course I could be completely wrong. :AH-HA_wink:

Haha... thanks for your help... I think you're wrong on the "different" ones though ;) "Due libri diversi" - two different books. Diversi seems to be the more common usage--maybe differente is broader.

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Haha... thanks for your help... I think you're wrong on the "different" ones though ;) "Due libri diversi" - two different books. Diversi seems to be the more common usage--maybe differente is broader.

Ah well, I took a shot. :smilewide:

I guess the real point I was making is the shades of meaning.

I love language.

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Ah well, I took a shot. :smilewide:

I guess the real point I was making is the shades of meaning.

I love language.

I do too. Students have a little prob with Italian grammar though--drives them nuts :AH-HA_wink: Hell, seven definite articles would annoy anyone trying to learn the language! lol

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questione

domanda

Both mean: question. Questione is a question or a topic brought up for discussion/debate/argument. Domanda is simply a question in general.

spedire

mandare

Both mean: to send. What's the difference?

differente

diverse

Both mean: different. What's the difference?

I had to think through these contextually, which seemed to help.

The first pair:

I always think of a domanda as a specific, pointed question, whereas I think questione is more of an issue or topic that warrants discussion

The second pair:

This is tougher, but I think of spedire as actually standing there at the counter in the post office, whereas mandare could be broader, such as sending regards (ho mandato i miei saluti) or including something within something else (ti ho mandato un assegno con la lettera)

The third pair:

I think of differente as holding up 2, or 3 items, under scrutiny, whereas I think diverse is a broadbrush description of pluralism (diverse popoli hanno emigrato a Montreal) or comparing 2 or 3 items from a broad sample (tre macchine diverse che produce la General Motors utilizzano il 3800).

Thank God it's only 9 cents a minute to Italy. I keep up my Italian by talking to my cousins every couple of weeks and my Sicilian by talking to my melodramatic Mom.

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I had to think through these contextually, which seemed to help.

The first pair:

I always think of a domanda as a specific, pointed question, whereas I think questione is more of an issue or topic that warrants discussion

The second pair:

This is tougher, but I think of spedire as actually standing there at the counter in the post office, whereas mandare could be broader, such as sending regards (ho mandato i miei saluti) or including something within something else (ti ho mandato un assegno con la lettera)

The third pair:

I think of differente as holding up 2, or 3 items, under scrutiny, whereas I think diverse is a broadbrush description of pluralism (diverse popoli hanno emigrato a Montreal) or comparing 2 or 3 items from a broad sample (tre macchine diverse che produce la General Motors utilizzano il 3800).

Thank God it's only 9 cents a minute to Italy. I keep up my Italian by talking to my cousins every couple of weeks and my Sicilian by talking to my melodramatic Mom.

What's amazing is, when you think about the definition of "questione", it's almost borderline with "discorso" or "argomento". Now, I have a good understanding of how to use all these words but what kills me is when that little subtle difference doesn't translate over to Spanish (since I'm studying it). I still screw up putting the subject pronoun after the verb for emphasis since you can do it in Italian but not Spanish. (Per esempio: Chi vuole scrivere sulla lavagna? Nessuno? Va bene, scrivo io!)

I have no Sicilian practice since my grandmother passed in 1997. My dad won't speak it (even though it's his first language). Once in a blue moon it comes out when I say something to the kids, like "vini ca". Knowing a few words in it definitely did help when I was studying French years ago... Italian: lavorare; Sicilian: travagliare; French: travailler. Knowing a difference like that helped me recognize "work" when studying French.

I'm not sure about "spedire"... don't forget you can say "spedisce i pompieri al fuoco."

Okay, enough language chatter for me tonight. I need to wind down so I can actually sleep tonight.

Edited by Paolino
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The subtle differences in Italian are why one shouldn't use slang or foul language Italian language around real Italians... you come off sounding like an idiot... or Borat... same thing.

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The subtle differences in Italian are why one shouldn't use slang or foul language Italian language around real Italians... you come off sounding like an idiot... or Borat... same thing.

Yeah, curses in Italian are more interchangeable than English. You really don't have a specific word meaning a specific bad thing. The "F" word can sometimes mean the "s" word or "d" word, etc., depending on how they're used. An example of this is if you rent "l'ultimo bacio" (the last kiss). Cazzo and minchia mean pretty much every bad thing you can say in English LOL

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Sicilian practice

Knowing a few words in it definitely did help when I was studying French years ago... Italian: lavorare; Sicilian: travagliare; French: travailler.

Right, from 1100 to 1300, more or less, the French (Normans) held the island and helped shape the Sicilian dialect and the way many Sicilians look. The Spaniards hung out there from around 1600 to 1800, and we have some relatives whose last names end in "ez."

Other Franco-Sicilian comparisons:

Italian: comprare, Sicilian: accatare, French: acheter

Italian: armadio, Sicilian: muarra, French: armoire

Italian: bagnato, Sicilian (town specific): mogghiu, French: mouillee

More interesting is that virtually all Sicilian pronouns and prepositions resemble Portuguese, though they never held the island:

Italian: la macchina or il ristorante, Sicilian: a macchina or u ristorante, Portuguese: "a" and "o" are among their articles

Italian: della Spagna or dell'inverno, Sicilian: da Spagna or do 'nverno, Portuguese: "da" and "do" are common prepositions

Italian: nella primavera or nello specchio, Sicilian: na primavera or no specchio, Portuguese: "na" and "no" are common prepositions

Most kids who grew up in homes where dialects were spoken, as you know, immediately knew 2 different languages. You spoke the dialect around people you knew but could NEVER speak it when traveling to a large city or when in an official place, like a government office, or you would be considered low-life. Still, the dialects are very entertaining, with the Neopolitan being the most irritating (in my mind).

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Another one:

cominciare

incominciare

iniziare

... all mean to begin.

I was watching Charmed in Italian last night and they used incominciare when I would have used cominciare. And it left me confused. :P

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4 years of Spanish drove me crazy with things like these...and the differences between Spain Spanish and Latin American Spanish. And all the idioms. I should have learned French or Italian instead, since I prefer vacationing in Europe.

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4 years of Spanish drove me crazy with things like these...and the differences between Spain Spanish and Latin American Spanish. And all the idioms. I should have learned French or Italian instead, since I prefer vacationing in Europe.

@ Paolino: that's among one of the tougher combos...it makes me think that, only in 2003 did I learn that a masculine noun that starts with an "s" is not preceded by "il."

Incorrect: il scontrino Correct: lo scontrino (a cash register receipt)

I wouldn't expect any non-native speaker to master the subtleties you listed above even within a bachelor's program in Italian. The rules are mindboggling.

@ Rob: Latin American Spanish is actually the correct Spanish. That's what you are taught in college, without the stupid-ass Castilian "theta"/lisp. I guess someone in Spain was paying me a compliment when they said: "Usted habla un Espanol correcto, que no es el Castellano." At least I took it as a compliment. Still scramble por and para every now and then...thinking that por is "for" and para is "directional/toward."

I took French in H.S. and loved it. I still do. And I have NO problems with the French and get along extremely well with the Quebecois. That's why I go to Eastern Canada every couple of years and, since it's essentially a French speaking area of North America, I blend in very well. If I could survive in the bitter cold, I wouldn't mind living there. In autumn, I feel like I'm at home there.

Growing up in L.A., I never took Spanish to help me interact with the locals. What the hell for? They need to learn English. I took it because I knew that I always wanted to go to Spain and Argentina, both of which I've been to and like immensely.

Edited by trinacriabob
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Growing up in S. Florida, I took 2 years of Spanish in high school, with one teacher that was Cuban American and another that was a Peruvian immigrant..picked up some regional specifics that I've long forgotten. What confused me was the 2 years in college in Ohio, where the instruction and books were focused on Espana Spanish w/ the Castillian variations.

I really would like to focus myself and get back into learning languages, beyond 'dos cervezas, por favor' and 'Quando parte el treno' and 'WC?' (the universal question).

I know trying going into a pharmacy in Milano and trying to ask for laxatives wasn't easy (not much fun having 48 hrs of transatlantic constipation..)

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all the Italian i know is from Space ghost C2C. :D "Caio, that's Italian for food" or how about "sono una tase de tea" not sure on spelling though.

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all the Italian i know is from Space ghost C2C. :D "Caio, that's Italian for food" or how about "sono una tase de tea" not sure on spelling though.

Haha, not sure what what you're trying to say in the second part... "sono una tazza di te`" means: "I'm a cup of tea" ;)

Bob:

About a month into teaching Italian I try to tackle the definite articles with my students. Here are the rules I give them:

il - masculine, singular words that do NOT begin with a vowel, gn, ps, s+consonant, x (with modern words adopted from English), or z.

lo - masculine, singular words that begin with gn, ps, s+consonant, x (with modern words adopted from English), or z.

l' - masculine or feminine, singular words that begin with a vowel.

la - feminine, singular words that begin with a consonant.

i - masculine, plural of words that use il in the singular.

gli - masculine, plural of words that use lo or l' (masculine only) in the singular.

le - feminine, all plural feminine words.

And then of course I tell them there are your "gender benders"; i.e., words that look one gender but are in theory another, for example: il programma, or la radio.

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4 years of Spanish drove me crazy with things like these...and the differences between Spain Spanish and Latin American Spanish. And all the idioms. I should have learned French or Italian instead, since I prefer vacationing in Europe.

Well, not sure you would have liked Italian... Italian has some of the pickiest rules of the 3 languages. The rule behind many of the little psycho rules is because Italians like everything to flow melodically.

My friend recently asked me to teach her Italian, and I taught her numbers. She was really pissed off that you had to delete a vowel every 1 and 8 starting at 18, just so it "flows" better ;)

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My friend recently asked me to teach her Italian, and I taught her numbers. She was really pissed off that you had to delete a vowel every 1 and 8 starting at 18, just so it "flows" better ;)

Far and away, the language rule that irritates me the most is in FRENCH.

Like all the other Latin-based languages, they too have a word for 30, 40, 50, 60 ... and then IT STOPS.

There is no single word for 70, 80, and 90...and the numbers in between.

For 80, it's ottanta, ochenta, oitenta in IT/SP/PT. For the French, it's quatre-vingts, or four-twenties.

When I tell someone I have a 92 Regal in French, it becomes a quatre-vingts douze (or, four-twenties + twelve).

Two questions about it:

1) in the dark ages, did they not barter for anything over 69 francs that they couldn't come up with one word for 70 and so on?

2) I actually heard that only one region of France has one word for 70,80,90...if so, I'd like to know where...

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Far and away, the language rule that irritates me the most is in FRENCH.

Like all the other Latin-based languages, they too have a word for 30, 40, 50, 60 ... and then IT STOPS.

There is no single word for 70, 80, and 90...and the numbers in between.

For 80, it's ottanta, ochenta, oitenta in IT/SP/PT. For the French, it's quatre-vingts, or four-twenties.

When I tell someone I have a 92 Regal in French, it becomes a quatre-vingts douze (or, four-twenties + twelve).

Two questions about it:

1) in the dark ages, did they not barter for anything over 69 francs that they couldn't come up with one word for 70 and so on?

2) I actually heard that only one region of France has one word for 70,80,90...if so, I'd like to know where...

Literally had this conversation with my friend on Tuesday when his 4.5 year old daughter asked how to count in French.

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tea say bay vuto ill chur vello no idea on spellings, but that's a good one.

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tea say bay vuto ill chur vello

Ti sei bevuto il cervello?

You drank up your brain? (or maybe that someone drank their brain into oblivion)

Phonetically, that's what I picked up.

The single most useful Italian word, in my mind, is:

VAFFANCULO!

It is quite useful with all the pushy, obnoxious people in Italy...it could also fetch a black eye...oh well

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Ti sei bevuto il cervello?

You drank up your brain? (or maybe that someone drank their brain into oblivion)

Phonetically, that's what I picked up.

The single most useful Italian word, in my mind, is:

VAFFANCULO!

It is quite useful with all the pushy, obnoxious people in Italy...it could also fetch a black eye...oh well

Students learn "Uffa" with me fairly quickly.

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