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A cartoon of two businessmen

Discussion in 'Italian-English' started by rambler, Apr 29, 2006.

  1. rambler Senior Member

    Tampa, Florida (hurricanes!)
    English Canada (blizzards!)
    I came across a cartoon of two businessmen:

    One is seated behind a desk; he looks shocked and indignant.
    The other is standing, and says,
    Ah... mi licenzia per incompetenza..! Potrei chiederle, signore, come mai ci ha messo vent’anni per accorgersene....?

    I think he is saying something like
    Firing me for incompetence! I might ask, sir, how come it took 20 years for you to notice?

    (1) Is that a reasonable translation?
    (2) “licenzia” – is that 2nd person imperative, or 3rd person indicative?
    (3) “chiederle” – what purpose does “le” serve? (I mean, how does it translate?)
    (4) “mai” – I know it means “never”, but I don’t see how it fits into my understanding of what the man says.
    (5) “ci ha messo” – I think this means “it has put”, but can I also translate it as “it has taken” (as I did above)?

    Grazie!
     
  2. fran06

    fran06 Senior Member

    Italy
    Italian Italy

    I'll try...
    1. Is that a reasonable translation?
    Yes, Maybe I would change the second bit...May I ask why...

    (2) “licenzia” – is that 2nd person imperative, or 3rd person indicative?
    It's the 3rd person singolar (io licenzio, tu licenzi, lui/lei licenzia) Its the formal way, when you talk to someone who you don't know or older than you.

    (3) “chiederle” – what purpose does “le” serve? (I mean, how does it translate?) It's like chiedere a lei, where a lei becomes le at the end of the verb.You don't have to translate it (May I ask (you=le) sir..)

    (4) “mai” – I know it means “never”, but I don’t see how it fits into my understanding of what the man says.
    It's a tipical italian expression come mai?equivalent of How come in English.

    (5) “ci ha messo” – I think this means “it has put”, but can I also translate it as “it has taken” (as I did above)?
    Yes.

    I hope it helps!
    It's not a great joke though...
    Ciao:)
     
  3. Bob K. Junior Member

    USA, English and Italian
    "Le" is the indirect object pronoun meaning "to you (formal)," and "chiedere" is one of the verbs that takes one of those (along with "dare," "dire," "piacere," etc.) So, "chiederle" would translate as "[to] ask [to] you."

    With helping verbs like "dovere," "potere," or "volere," the indirect object can precede the first verb ("Le potrei chiedere") or can be attached at the end of the infinitive, as in your example.

    Probably more information than you wanted....
     
  4. Jana337

    Jana337 Senior Member

    čeština
    For the sake of precision: Here it does not mean "it has put" but "you have put" (3rd person, formal).

    Ci ho messo molto tempo a capire questo libro.
    Come mai ci hai messo tanto tempo?
    Signorina, come mai ci ha messo tanto tempo?

    Jana
     
  5. Txiri

    Txiri Senior Member

    USA English
    One is seated behind a desk; he looks shocked and indignant.
    The other is standing, and says,

    Ah... mi licenzia per incompetenza..! Potrei chiederle, signore, come mai ci ha messo vent’anni per accorgersene....?


    Oh, here goes the warning, I´m an amateur in Italian, but this is what I read:

    "Oh, you want to see my license for incompetence? ... You could ask for it, sir, but how on earth has it taken you 20 years for that to occur to you ..."


     
  6. Jana337

    Jana337 Senior Member

    čeština
    An interesting attempt. :D
    The problem is that my licence would be mia licenza, whereas we have mi licenzia.
    Potrei chiederLe...? Could I ask you...?
    Potrebbe chiederlo... You could ask for it...

    Jana
     
  7. Txiri

    Txiri Senior Member

    USA English
    Oh! well thank you for making fun of me ;) :cool:

    One is seated behind a desk; he looks shocked and indignant.
    The other is standing, and says,
    Ah... mi licenzia per incompetenza..! Potrei chiederle, signore, come mai ci ha messo vent’anni per accorgersene....?


    Is this any better?

    "Ahh ... so you´ve fired me for being incompetent. Might I ask you, sir, why on earth it took you so long, after 20 years, to realize that ...?"

    If I´m being a pain in the a**, I will cease and desist from the Italian forum.
     
  8. Jana337

    Jana337 Senior Member

    čeština
    Sounds fine.
    No, you will visit on a daily basis and brush up on your Italian. I'll see to it. ;)

    Jana
     

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