Leçons Italien

Thèmes

Does discutere mean "discuss?"

The word "discuss" or "discussion" elicits the image of business meetings or family dinners — people talking normally together in order to reach a conclusion, people exchanging their opinions or knowledge.

 

The verb discutere in Italian sounds pretty similar, especially in its past participle discusso, leading us to think it means the same thing. And, well, it can and often does.

 

Qui, Federico Secondo ha discusso con i suoi consiglieri le questioni di Stato o dei rapporti con i Papi e promulgato le costituzioni, codice unico di leggi per l'intero regno di Sicilia.

Here, Frederick the Second discussed with his advisors questions of state or relations with the Popes, and promulgated charters, a unique legal code for the entire Reign of Sicily.

Captions 30-31, Itinerari Della Bellezza Basilicata - Part 2

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An everyday sfumatura

But more often than not, in everyday conversation, it has another sfumatura (nuance) that you'll want to know about. Gaging someone's level of emotion is not always easy in a foreign language. How many times have you thought two Italians were arguing heatedly, but they were just talking about il calcio (soccer)?

 

In a current video on Yabla, a woman is describing the evening of her husband's murder.

Quella sera abbiamo discusso.

That evening, we argued.

Caption 11, Provaci Ancora Prof! S1E4 - La mia compagna di banco - Part 21

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If you don't know about this nuance, you might think, "OK, so what? They discussed their schedules." So we have to watch for the context, the mood, to determine what kind of "discussion" they had. They might well be talking about an argument.

 

Another way to tell that discutere means "to argue" is that there is no direct or indirect object of the verb, although there might very well be the preposition con (with), indicating the other person in the argument. In the following example, the indirect object comes in the form of a question "with whom."

Nemici? Che nemici avrebbe dovuto avere? Qualcuno con cui aveva discusso ultimamente, magari anche sul lavoro.

Enemies? What enemies should he have had? Someone he had recently argued with, maybe even at work.

Captions 19-21, Il Commissario Manara S2EP8 - Fuori servizio - Part 3

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Just talking about something 

Let's note that in English, the verb "to discuss" is transitive.

What did you discuss? -We discussed our schedules.

 

But in Italian, discutere can be either transitive or intransitive. When it means "to argue," discutere is intransitive. When it means, "talking about something," then the preposition di (about) will be used.

Che sei venuta a discutere di cucina esotica? -No.

What, did you come to talk about exotic cuisine? -No.

Caption 14, Provaci Ancora Prof! S1E3 - Una piccola bestia ferita - Part 22

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Another sfumatura

When we are having an argument (una discussione), the noun discussione can come out in a different way. 

È fuori discussione, Manara!

That's out of the question, Manara!

Caption 29, Il Commissario Manara S2EP9 - L'amica ritrovata - Part 4

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The previous example uses the Italian noun discussione and the English noun question. In the following example, however, there is a verbal phrase in the Italian — mettere in discussione — to equal the verb "to question" in English. This can be part  of a normal discussion, not an argument, but it's good to know!

però penso non possa essere messa in discussione la sua onestà professionale.

but I don't think his professional honesty can be questioned.

Caption 32, Il Commissario Manara S2EP9 - L'amica ritrovata - Part 4

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Putting it in a simpler, indicative mood:

Non lo metto in discussione (I'm not questioning that).

 

As you watch movies and shows on Yabla, or anywhere else you see Italian content, be on the lookout for the verb discutere in all its forms and nuances. 

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