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Thread: forme di cortesia: tu - lei - voi - loro

  1. #41
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    Re: tu - lei

    You can also use "Loro":
    "Hanno loro il libro "Le avventure di Alice nel paese delle meraviglie"?
    It's a very ancient formal form.
    If you said that to a shop assistant, he or she would take some time to realise the meaning of the question, just because it's arcaic.

  2. #42
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    Re: tu - lei

    Quote Originally Posted by -STEVE- View Post
    You can also use "Loro":
    "Hanno loro il libro "Le avventure di Alice nel paese delle meraviglie"?
    It's a very ancient formal form.
    If you said that to a shop assistant, he or she would take some time to realise the meaning of the question, just because it's arcaic.
    Then that would probably mean you can't use it. Right?

    Just like I'd tell a non-native English speaker that you can't ask a shopkeep, "Doth thou have Alice in Wonderland?" even though maybe once upon a time you could say it.
    "I don't give a damn for a man that can only spell a word one way."

  3. #43
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    Re: tu - lei

    Loro as a formal pronoun is a bit old-fashioned. The informal pronoun (Voi) is perceived polite enough when addressing more than one person.
    Still, should I address two old ladies, I would use it. But I agree those are just niceties.

  4. #44
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    Re: tu - lei

    Really?

    A few years ago when I first started learning Italian, I read in some thread here some Italian say something like, "Even if I were addressing the present and the pope, I'd still use voi" because loro is so outdated and odd-sounding. And in my personal experience I've never ever heard loro used as a formal voi (even though it's in our textbooks).

    But I suppose it depends on a lot of things. I also don't hang out with many prestigious people.
    Last edited by brian; 28th December 2008 at 1:26 AM.
    "I don't give a damn for a man that can only spell a word one way."

  5. #45
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    Re: tu - lei

    Quote Originally Posted by brian8733 View Post
    I also don't hang out with my prestigious people.

    So do I, still I would feel a bit uncomfortable by saying e.g. "scendete alla prossima fermata?" to an elderly couple. Probably it's a matter of personal perceptions.

    Actually even in restaurants or shops is not so uncommon to address customers with Loro: "i signori desiderano?".

  6. #46
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    Re: tu - lei

    Sorry, that "my" should've been "many," of course!

    Okay but "I signori desiderano" is a little different, no? It would sound a little weird to say, for example, "Voi signori desiderate.." wouldn't it? I think the inclusion of "signori" allows for the "loro" form much more easily.

    If you take out the direct address, it sounds a little weirder, doesn't it? Would you say, for example, "Mi scusano, (loro) hanno già chiesto?" to ask "Scusatemi (signori), avete già chiesto?" It just sounds weird, but maybe because it's very very formal/old and I'm not used to it.
    "I don't give a damn for a man that can only spell a word one way."

  7. #47
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    Re: tu - lei

    Brian, it was more than 30 years ago, but my friend and I were going to rent an apartment in Trieste that was being vacated by an elderly lady. Every time she spoke to us she insisted on calling us "Loro" instead of "voi" -- at first we felt like looking around to see who else was there - and sometimes we would get completely confused and she'd have to use "voi" and then she pretended to be embarrassed and apologized for using "voi." The story about the bank director and private detective reminded me of this incident.

  8. #48
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    Re: tu - lei - voi

    Cogliendo un ottimo suggerimento, propongo due casi e due domande a proposito di Lei e tu.

    Non considerando il caso a): "Lei", quando ci si rivolge a qualcuno usando un titolo (Signore, Avvocato, Professore...); o il caso b): "tu" tra amici, familiari o coetanei; ci sono i seguenti casi:

    caso c) ci si rivolge a qualcuno usando il cognome e il Lei
    esempi: un insegnante che si rivolge agli allievi (di solito adulti)
    io quando mi rivolgo al direttore del personale della mia azienda

    caso d) ci si rivolge a qualcuno usando il nome e il Lei
    esempi: un avvocato che si rivolge alla segretaria
    io quando mi rivolgo alla badante di mio padre

    Domanda 1) c'e' un modo per distinguere in inglese i casi c) e d) tra loro e dal caso b)?

    Domanda 2) traducendo un romanzo dall'inglese in italiano e' meglio usare Lei o voi nei casi a), c) e d)?
    (Ho visto usare entrambi i modi).

    Grazie per il vostro illuminato parere
    Please, feel free to correct my English. Thanks!

  9. #49
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    Re: tu - lei - voi

    For question 1.

    In English, the difference between Lei and tu in these cases is not an exact equivalent to Italian, but Lei is indicated in several ways:


    a) the use of Mr. or Ms. and the last name (cognome)
    b) the use of passive voice
    c) the use of impersonal phrases
    d) the use of very polite or formal language
    e) avoiding speaking of one's personal relationships (they are taboo for someone you would dare del "Lei"
    f) other non verbal cues - respecting personal space, acting as if you were in public (no personal grooming or other things considered impolite in public)

    For tu, conversely, it is shown by

    a) speaking in conversational English
    b) more use of idioms, punctuating speech with jokes or slightly off color references
    c) all subjects are fair game
    d) freedom to make self deprecating remarks, or slight insults
    e) very direct and personal phrasing
    f) reducing sentences to only the essential words
    g) use of local pronunciation or phrasing (similar to dialects)
    h) non verbal cues

    (Unfortunately, some people do some from the Lei group and some from the tu group, leading to some confusion. For example I have had people come right up and touch me while talking, yet use polite language and impersonal forms. This left me bewildered. In Alabama, a lot of people speak only the local Southern so, they may be very formal while still speaking Southern. In certain rural areas in the South, there is no Lei/tu differentiation that I can notice. )

    Question 2

    I am not qualified to answer. I always saw "voi" in books but "Lei" in real-life. That seems to be because I lived in Lombardia, Veneto, and Friuli. But I understood books were edited in Rome.
    Last edited by AlabamaBoy; 20th March 2009 at 6:04 PM.


  10. #50
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    Re: tu - lei - voi

    Quote Originally Posted by vale_ca View Post
    Domanda 2) traducendo un romanzo dall'inglese in italiano e' meglio usare Lei o voi nei casi a), c) e d)?
    (Ho visto usare entrambi i modi).
    Direi decisamente 'Lei'.
    Il 'voi' come pronome formale penso si possa ormai definire un meridionalismo.

  11. #51
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    Re: tu - lei - voi

    Voi is as good as any other P.P. but sounds very dowdy. I understand they use it in the South of It a lot but I do not recommend it. Moreover, it is always in dispute whether voi is formal or familiar. I hear it used in both manner.

    I think lei is much more elegant for theyou formal. Moreover, even though loro for (you plural, formal or not) is a bit awkward, I prefer it to voi.

    It is time to simply break with the past and get rid of voi once and for all.
    I find it frustrating when I still hear voi used by many people, including people on television and movies.
    Maybe we need a language police in Italy.

  12. #52
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    Re: tu - lei - voi

    Quote Originally Posted by federicoft View Post
    Direi decisamente 'Lei'.
    Il 'voi' come pronome formale penso si possa ormai definire un meridionalismo.

    ho un'amica che usa il voi con suo padre... è meridionale... ma penso che quando si comincia in un modo è difficile cambiare stile...
    tocca aspettare le nuove generazioni...

  13. #53
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    Re: tu - lei - voi

    Quote Originally Posted by laratri View Post
    ho un'amica che usa il voi con suo padre... è meridionale... ma penso che quando si comincia in un modo è difficile cambiare stile...
    tocca aspettare le nuove generazioni...
    ciao...sono calabre anche io (pero' abbito negli USA). ricordo che il voi nel mio paese venga usato molto. non sentivo mai usare il lei.
    non voglio dare l'impressione che sono contro l'uso meridionale. anzi, mi piace assai il calabrese ed il siciliano, specialmente quando usano molto il passato remoto piu' del passato prossimo come fanno nel nord. "fu una grande persona" o, "disse molte storia" e cosi via.
    ma no mi piace quando si usa il voi perche' fa molta confusione. {even though] e piu' facile ricordare il voi che il lei.

    (feel free to correct my mediocre italian. i look forward to it)

  14. #54
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    Re: tu - lei - voi

    Quote Originally Posted by borzov View Post
    ciao...sono calabre anche io (pero' ab(b)ito negli USA). ricordo che il voi nel mio paese venga viene usato molto. non si sentiva mai usare il lei.
    non voglio dare l'impressione che sono contrario all'uso meridionale. anzi, mi piace assai il calabrese ed il siciliano, specialmente quando usano molto il passato remoto piu' del passato prossimo come fanno nel nord. "fu una grande persona" o, "disse molte storia" e cosi via.
    ma non mi piace quando si usa il voi perche' fa molta confusione. {even though] e piu' facile ricordare il voi che il lei.

    (feel free to correct my mediocre italian. i look forward to it)

    ti ho corretto un poco, anche se si capisce molto bene ciò che hai detto...

  15. #55
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    Re: (don't) lean out of the window

    Whem you say that the "voi" form is old fashioned, what would you use in it's place, "tu"? If you're asking two people how they're doing, you wouldn't commonly hear "Come state"?

  16. #56
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    Re: (don't) lean out of the window

    nope, if you're asking two people you must say "voi". I was referring to the use of "voi" as a formal speech in case you refer to a single person. nowadays the most common way to be formal to someONE is to say "lei", which would actually mean "she" as a third person...
    It's a bit tricky:
    in English the pronoun "you" is used both for singular and plural form while in Italian "tu" is referred to a single person and "voi" to two or more persons. Moreover, "lei" is the usual translation for "she". However, in Italian a formal speech can be obtained by referring to "you" as a single person using both "voi" or "lei". The first form is a bit outdated while the second is more common.

  17. #57
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    Re: (don't) lean out of the window

    Quote Originally Posted by kc1005 View Post
    Whem you say that the "voi" form is old fashioned, what would you use in it's place, "tu"? If you're asking two people how they're doing, you wouldn't commonly hear "Come state"?
    Absolutely. When addressing two or more people, both formally and informally, voi is not just perfectly fine. Indeed, it is the only pronoun I can think of.

    On the previous page we were talking about using voi when addressing (politely) one person. That is an old fashioned usage.

  18. #58
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    Re: tu - lei - voi

    Is there ever a time when two people would use "tu" with each other, and then switch back to Lei? (Maybe they had a huge disagreement and want to distance themselves from each other?) Could anyone give an example where this might be possible?

    Also, I remember in the first Italian book I ever read, they said that the plural of the formal Lei was Loro (not voi) Does anyone ever use the Loro form still today?

    Thanks!
    "Siamo angeli con un'ala sola, solo restando abbracciati possiamo volare." Luciano De Crescenzo

  19. #59
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    Re: tu - lei - voi

    Quote Originally Posted by darkmatter View Post
    Is there ever a time when two people would use "tu" with each other, and then switch back to Lei? (Maybe they had a huge disagreement and want to distance themselves from each other?)
    It would be highly unlikely. However, after a huge disagreement, I think it may actually happen: Two people who are no longer friends but for some reason have to continue to speak to each other may use "lei" instead of "tu." This would be somewhat ironic, since "lei" is known as the "forma di cortesia" (the "courtesy form").

    Quote Originally Posted by darkmatter View Post
    Also, I remember in the first Italian book I ever read, they said that the plural of the formal Lei was Loro (not voi) Does anyone ever use the Loro form still today?
    As far as I know, it's obsolete (it might still be in use in some dialects, who knows?) It's still found in the phrase lor signori, now only used in a joking way.

  20. #60
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    Re: tu - lei - voi

    It happened once when I was on a bus in Rome. The driver and a passenger started arguing pretty intensely, and the passenger switched to tu. The sense, then (at least to me), was sort of like, "You're so disagreeable that you don't even deserve to be called Lei." Or perhaps she just got so caught up in her high-intensity yelling - which, after all, most people probably only do with friends/family members anyway, I guess - that she switched to tu unconsciously.

    However, after some more arguing, the passenger switched to a calmer, quieter, and slower tone, albeit still very intense and direct, and switched back to Lei, as if the heated "informal" method was unsuccessful, so now she was trying the more "civilized" method, in the hopes that her message would be clearer and successfully reach the driver. Or it could be that she wanted to just stop the argument, and so by switching back to Lei, she was giving it some closure, i.e. taking things full circle.

    But yeah, this was all within one conversation/argument. In the case of two parties agreeing to go from Lei to tu, I think the only reason they'd ever go back would be after a falling out, as ToWhomItMayConcern said.
    "I don't give a damn for a man that can only spell a word one way."

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