Dialogue

Vocabulary

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Lesson Notes

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Lesson Transcript

INTRODUCTION
Eric: Hi everyone, and welcome back to ItalianPod101.com. This is Business Italian for Beginners Season 1 Lesson 13 - Asking for Simple Information in Italian. Eric Here.
Ofelia: Ciao, I'm Ofelia.
Eric: In this lesson, you’ll learn how to ask for simple information. The conversation takes place in an office.
Ofelia: It's between Paolo and Receptionist.
Eric: The speakers are strangers, so they will use formal Italian. Okay, let's listen to the conversation.
DIALOGUE
Paolo: Scusi, posso chiederle un'informazione?
Receptionist: Certo!
Paolo: Potrebbe darmi l'indirizzo e-mail dell'ufficio del personale?
Receptionist: hr@abc.com (acca-erre-chiocciola-a-bi-ci-punto-com)
Paolo: Grazie mille.
Eric: Listen to the conversation one time slowly.
Paolo: Scusi, posso chiederle un'informazione?
Receptionist: Certo!
Paolo: Potrebbe darmi l'indirizzo e-mail dell'ufficio del personale?
Receptionist: hr@abc.com (acca-erre-chiocciola-a-bi-ci-punto-com)
Paolo: Grazie mille.
Eric: Listen to the conversation with the English translation
Paolo: Excuse me, may I ask for information?
Receptionist: Sure!
Paolo: Could you give me the HR office email address?
Receptionist: hr@abc.com
Paolo: Thank you very much.
POST CONVERSATION BANTER
Eric: Ofelia, what are the most common departments in an Italian office?
Ofelia: Depending on the size of the company, in Italy you may be referred to different departments or people when looking for specific things. One sector that is often independently organized is the accounting sector, which is called contabilità.
Eric: I suppose that in bigger companies or public authorities you may also find more specific systems.
Ofelia: That’s right. Here are some words that may come in handy - economato
Eric: which is the "treasurer's office"
Ofelia: ufficio relazioni con il pubblico
Eric: "PR office"
Ofelia: And ufficio del personale or ufficio personale
Eric: "HR office". Okay, now onto the vocab.
VOCAB LIST
Eric: Let’s take a look at the vocabulary from this lesson. The first word is..
Ofelia: chiedere [natural native speed]
Eric: to ask
Ofelia: chiedere[slowly - broken down by syllable]
Ofelia: chiedere [natural native speed]
Eric: Next we have..
Ofelia: informazione [natural native speed]
Eric: information
Ofelia: informazione[slowly - broken down by syllable]
Ofelia: informazione [natural native speed]
Eric: Next we have..
Ofelia: personale [natural native speed]
Eric: personnel, staff
Ofelia: personale[slowly - broken down by syllable]
Ofelia: personale [natural native speed]
Eric: Next we have..
Ofelia: indirizzo e-mail [natural native speed]
Eric: email address
Ofelia: indirizzo e-mail[slowly - broken down by syllable]
Ofelia: indirizzo e-mail [natural native speed]
Eric: Next we have..
Ofelia: chiocciola [natural native speed]
Eric: snail, at sign
Ofelia: chiocciola[slowly - broken down by syllable]
Ofelia: chiocciola [natural native speed]
Eric: And last.
Ofelia: punto [natural native speed]
Eric: dot
Ofelia: punto[slowly - broken down by syllable]
Ofelia: punto [natural native speed]
KEY VOCAB AND PHRASES
Eric: Let's have a closer look at the usage of some of the words and phrases from this lesson. The first word is..
Ofelia: personale
Eric: meaning "personnel,” or “staff"
Ofelia: This word can be both a noun and more often an adjective.
Eric: Here we'll look at the word as noun. It is used to formally indicate the staff of a company, a public office, or a shop.
Ofelia: It's masculine, so the article should be il. It doesn't have a plural form.
Eric: Can you give us an example using this word?
Ofelia: Sure. For example, you can say.. L'intero personale della banca è stato coinvolto nella truffa.
Eric: ..which means "The whole bank personnel was involved in the fraud." Okay, what's the next word?
Ofelia: chiocciola
Eric: This is what Italians call the "at sign," and it literally means "snail.”
Ofelia: As you may have guessed, it's because the sign resembles a snail. Sometimes you may hear the diminutive version as well, chiocciolina.
Eric: Which literally means “little snail.” Can you give us an example using the normal version?
Ofelia: Sure. For example, you can say.. Come si digita la chiocciola?
Eric: .. which means "How do you type the at sign?" Okay, now onto the lesson focus.

Lesson focus

Eric: In this lesson, you'll learn about how to ask for simple information.
Ofelia: On many occasions in an Italian workplace, you’ll need to ask for information.
Eric: Sometimes there will be a reception or an information desk, but in most cases there won’t be such a place, so it’s good to know how to ask the people around you for information.
Ofelia: The question that Paolo uses in the dialogue also works in such a case. He starts the question with Scusi...
Eric: which is the polite way to say “Excuse me”, and then he asks a question that will allow him to understand if the person can actually help him.
Ofelia: That is posso chiederle un’informazione?
Eric: Meaning “May I ask for some information?” This kind of question also lets you know if the other person can actually help you and is not in the middle of some other activity, so it will make you sound polite. What are some other similar questions?
Ofelia: Scusi, posso chiedere a lei?
Eric: “Excuse me, may I ask you something?”
Ofelia: Scusi, può aiutarmi?
Eric: “Excuse me, can you help me?”
Ofelia: As you can hear, the pattern is always the same –a conjugated form of the verb potere meaning “can,” is followed by an infinitive verb. You can also start the conversation by saying, Scusi, stavo cercando un’informazione...
Eric: Meaning “Excuse me, I was looking for some information…”
Ofelia: or Scusi, non la disturbo ora?
Eric: “Excuse me, am I bothering you?”
Ofelia: Please note that in Italian this sentence is actually negative and somehow implies that the reply will be affirmative.
Eric: So you should use it with someone who looks like they can help you. Ok, now let’s go over how to actually ask for a piece of information.
Ofelia: In the dialogue, Paolo uses a very polite formula, potrebbe plus a verb in the infinitive form. Potrebbe is the third person singular, conditional mood, of potere, meaning "to be able to," "can," or "may.”
Eric: That is good to learn by heart, even if you don’t know the conditional mood yet.
Ofelia: Right. In general, you use the conditional mood whenever you need some conditions to be satisfied, in order to accomplish something.
Eric: In this specific case, the condition that should be satisfied is the receptionist agreeing to Paolo’s request.
Ofelia: “If you can,” “If you’d like to,” “If it’s possible” are the conditions implied by potrebbe, which means “could you (polite).”
Eric: After that is the infinitive verb...
Ofelia: ...darmi, which is made up of the verb dare, “to give,” and the pronoun mi “to me.”
Eric: The same question can be asked using the indicative mood, but there is a clear difference in nuance. Let’s compare the same sentence in the indicative and conditional moods.
Ofelia: You can either say Potrebbe darmi una mano? or Può darmi una mano?
Eric: In English the first sentence would be “Could you give me a hand?” and the second would be “Can you give me a hand?”
Ofelia: In other words, if you are asking your boss something, it’s better to use the conditional if you don’t want to sound rude.
Eric: On the other hand, if your boss asks you something, it’s completely natural for him or her to use the indicative.

Outro

Eric: Okay, that’s all for this lesson. Thank you for listening, everyone, and we’ll see you next time! Bye!
Ofelia: A presto!

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