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Thread: Even if

  1. #1
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    Even if

    I am beginning a personal crusade against "even if"!

    When "anche se" means "sebbene", the translation is "although" or "even though".
    We went to the sea even though it was raining.
    We can go out, although it's rather cold.

    "Even if" has a more limited use: "anche nel caso che...":
    We'll go to the sea even if it rains.
    Even if I won a lot of money I wouldn't leave my job.

    Examples can be found of "even if" where I say "although" is better, but it's better to avoid this use.
    Basically, "even if" is used where the situation is not yet known.

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    Re: Even if

    You are right, of course.
    The problem has its origin in the Italian version which often has "anche se" even when there should be a "sebbene"..

    Brevity is the soul of wit - Le persone intelligenti hanno il dono della concisione

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    Re: Even if

    Quote Originally Posted by Paulfromitaly View Post
    You are right, of course.
    The problem has its origin in the Italian version which often has "anche se" even when there should be a "sebbene"..
    I've been butchering the Italian language, then. I tend to treat "anche se", "sebbene" and "benché" as synonyms (with appropriate moods).

    Is there more to it?
    A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep. Saul Bellow

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    Re: Even if

    Quote Originally Posted by Jana337 View Post
    I've been butchering the Italian language, then. I tend to treat "anche se", "sebbene" and "benché" as synonyms (with appropriate moods).

    Is there more to it?
    I think it works like in English:

    Although Paul is able to swim, he's afraid to do it in the ocean.

    Sebbene Paul sappia nuotare, ha paura di farlo nell'oceano. (Correct version with sebbene and subjunctive)
    Anche se Paul sa nuotare, ha paura di farlo nell'oceano. (Colloquial version with anche se and indicative; not the best Italian, I'd say..)

    Brevity is the soul of wit - Le persone intelligenti hanno il dono della concisione

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    Re: Even if

    I began this thread because I see "even if" used by a number of contributors whose general level of English is excellent. Of course, as Paul says, the origin is in the Italian language; "anche se" can be used to avoid the subjunctive.

    This evening we're staying at home, although it would be nice to go out.
    You can't say "sebbene sarebbe", while "sebbene fosse" would change the meaning, but you can say "anche se sarebbe bello uscire". "Although" in English has the same flexibility of tenses as "anche se" in Italian.

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    Re: Even if

    Quote Originally Posted by Paulfromitaly View Post
    Anche se Paul sa nuotare, ha paura di farlo nell'oceano. (Colloquial version with anche se and indicative; not the best Italian, I'd say..)
    I can't see anything wrong with "anche se". Are "benché" and "sebbene" supposed to be better just because they require the subjunctive, whereas "anche se" requires a humble indicative?

    Serianni quotes a sentence from Alfredo Panzini, a careful writer who was also a linguist:
    "gente pratica, dico, che sa far di conto anche se non ha studiato"

    Any more opinions on this?
    Last edited by giovannino; 7th May 2007 at 2:52 PM.

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    Re: Even if

    Quote Originally Posted by giovannino View Post
    I can't see anything wrong with "anche se". Are "benché" and "sebbene" supposed to be better just because they require the subjunctive, whereas "anche se" requires a humble indicative?

    Serianni quotes a sentence from Alfredo Panzini, a careful writer who was also a linguist:
    "gente pratica, dico, che sa far di conto anche se non ha studiato"

    Any more opinions on this?
    I'm not sure there's something wrong with "anche se" (maybe it is just slightly clumsy to my ears), but if you change it with its equivalent "anche nel caso che" you can see that the sentence doesn't flow any more, whereas if you change "sebbene" with its synonym "nostante il fatto che" the sentence still sounds fine.
    Paul is able to swim: that's a proven fact which doesn't sound such once you introduce an "if" in the sentence.

    Brevity is the soul of wit - Le persone intelligenti hanno il dono della concisione

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    Re: Even if

    Quote Originally Posted by Paulfromitaly View Post
    I'm not sure there's something wrong with "anche se" (maybe it is just slightly clumsy to my ears), but if you change it with its equivalent "anche nel caso che" you can see that the sentence doesn't flow any more, whereas if you change "sebbene" with its synonym "nostante il fatto che" the sentence still sounds fine.
    Paul is able to swim: that's a proven fact which doesn't sound such once you introduce an "if" in the sentence.
    But in your example "anche se" does not mean "anche nel caso che" - it just means "benché".
    It can mean both "even if" and "even though" but there is no risk of ambiguity because the tense tells you in which meaning it is being used:

    anche se partissi subito, non arriveresti in tempo, even if you left now, you wouldn’t get there in time; anche se era stanco, continuò a lavorare, even though he was tired, he went on working
    (Hazon Garzanti)

    Basically, when "anche se" is used in the "even if" sense, you get the typical tense sequence of conditional sentences:

    Type 1: Anche se arriverai in ritardo ti faranno entrare lo stesso
    Type2: Anche se arrivassi in ritardo ti farebbero entrare lo stesso
    Type 3: Anche se tu fossi arrivato in ritardo ti avrebbero fatto entrare lo stesso

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    Re: Even if

    Quote Originally Posted by giovannino View Post
    But in your example "anche se" does not mean "anche nel caso che" - it just means "benché".
    Spot on: my point is that, by my opinion, "benchè" and "anche se" are not interchangeable, if not in a really colloquial register.
    We don't have problems to get the meaning of a sentence where there's an "anche se" instead of a "benchè" just like English speakers understand the meaning of a sentence where "even if" is used instead of "even though".
    It just sounds not very correct, I guess.

    Brevity is the soul of wit - Le persone intelligenti hanno il dono della concisione

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    Re: Even if

    In Italian they may not be exact equivalents but they seem near enough. The difference is bigger in English. If you say "He doesn't speak French even if he goes to France every summer", it suggests that you don't know at the moment whether he spends his holidays there or not. That's why you need "although". I don't think there's such a confusion in Italian.

    Another example of "even if" in English: "I can't afford it and even if I could I wouldn't buy it". Here you can't say "although".

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    Re: Even if

    Quote Originally Posted by Einstein View Post
    Another example of "even if" in English: "I can't afford it and even if I could I wouldn't buy it". Here you can't say "although".
    There's a point in common between Italian an English: IF introduces a hypothesis, therefore it shouldn't be used when talking about a proven fact.

    Brevity is the soul of wit - Le persone intelligenti hanno il dono della concisione

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    Re: Even if

    Einstein,
    An excellent distinction. Rem acu tetigisti, as they used to say in very old Italian.
    Best wishes
    Virgilio

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    Re: Even if

    Quote Originally Posted by Paulfromitaly View Post
    Spot on: my point is that, by my opinion, "benchè" and "anche se" are not interchangeable, if not in a really colloquial register.
    We don't have problems to get the meaning of a sentence where there's an "anche se" instead of a "benchè" just like English speakers understand the meaning of a sentence where "even if" is used instead of "even though".
    It just sounds not very correct, I guess.
    Well, I agree with Einstein's distinction between "even if" and "although/even though". I just don't think that the same applies to "anche se" vs "benché" in Italian.

    As I said, in his Grammatica Serianni lists the "concessive" use of "anche se" = "sebbene", giving an example from a writer and one from a newspaper, without stigmatizing this use. And yet Serianni is a stricter grammarian than his partners at the Accademia (see his comments on gli used for loro, for example).

    Nor do I think that it is only acceptable in colloquial Italian. On Google I found plenty of instances of "anche se" = "sebbene" in formal, academic texts, as in these quotes from essays by professors of Philosophy:

    ..anche se Hegel mette in luce l'impossibilità per la situazione etica del mondo antico stesso di giungere ad una soluzione effettiva di questo rapporto. ...

    Ma anche se Hegel le presenta come categorie distinte, esse sono inscindibili, perché il pensiero è un fluire continuo

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