put the lie to


Context: film analysis (academic essay)

More hawk than sparrow, but birdlike himself, of course, Norman puts the lie to the avian analy­sis he offers while chatting with Marion: "[quotation]"

Dear users,

I am having troubles translating this sentence. I understand its general meaning, but can not make up with a proper translation. The author could have written "Norman lies in the avian analysis...", but he hasn't. Basically, my problem is with preposition "to": Norman could have put the lie in the avian analysis he offers. Is there any difference in putting a lie to something? What would the difference be?
Please consider that there are no previous references to any lie, but Norman is taking advantage of a misunderstanding.

thanks to you all for any help you can provide!
  • elfa

    Senior Member
    Hi giocandolo,

    My understanding of this sentence is that the person writing the sentence is commenting on the contradiction between what Norman says and his behaviour. It is not that Norman himself is lying.

    "Put the lie to" is an accepted phrase meaning "show [something] to be false/demonstrate the falsity of a situation". "Put the lie in" isn't a phrase, as far as I know.

    Does that make sense?


    Thanks Elfa.
    Surprisingly enough, I have not found this phrase in any dictionary.
    The passage is definitely meaningful this way.


    Giving the context, I would tend to prefer "smentire".
    The previous sentence reads " - words no less apt to be voiced at a second blonde Marion's moment of truth, when her highway to hap­piness abruptly dead-ends on her taking for the simple-minded inno­cence of a Child, and thus reading as redemptive, the wounded-sparrow twitchiness she encounters in Norman."

    I would not say the analysis is "falsificata", I'd say it's "smentita" (it still has to do with lies and misinterpretations, not with truths).


    Dear johngiovanni

    Norman is not proposing an analysis; he is making it available, that's the meaning of offers in the sentence.

    Più falco che passerotto, ma pur sempre uccellesco egli stesso, è Norman a smentire l'analisi aviaria che aveva indotto:
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