Dialogue

Vocabulary

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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 15 - Saying You Can’t Speak the Language. Eric Here.
Ofelia: Ciao, I'm Ofelia.
Eric: In this lesson, you’ll learn how to say you can’t speak a particular language. The conversation takes place on the phone.
Ofelia: It's between Linda and a Switchboard operator.
Eric: The speakers are strangers, so they will use formal Italian. Okay, let's listen to the conversation.
DIALOGUE
Centralinista: Credito Italiano, buongiorno.
Linda: Pronto, sono Linda Baker della ABC.
Centralinista: Bungiorno, come posso aiutarla?
Linda: Ah... mi scusi non so bene l'italiano, possiamo parlare in inglese?
Centralinista: Certo.
Eric: Listen to the conversation one time slowly.
Centralinista: Credito Italiano, buongiorno.
Linda: Pronto, sono Linda Baker della ABC.
Centralinista: Bungiorno, come posso aiutarla?
Linda: Ah... mi scusi non so bene l'italiano, possiamo parlare in inglese?
Centralinista: Certo.
Eric: Listen to the conversation with the English translation
Switchboard operator: Italian Credit, good morning.
Linda: Hello, this is Linda Baker from ABC.
Switchboard operator: Good morning, how can I help you?
Linda: Ah ... I'm sorry, I don't know Italian well, can we speak in English?
Switchboard operator: Sure.
POST CONVERSATION BANTER
Eric: Ofelia, is there a specific etiquette to follow when making a business call?
Ofelia: Yes, there are some commonly shared rules. For example, when someone is in charge of answering the phone in a company, instead of using the usual formula pronto, they will state the company name at the beginning of the call.
Eric: What if you made the call?
Ofelia: If you made the call, please be sure to say who you are. If they don't know you, be polite and use formal Italian. If they already know you and you are a customer, you can use informal Italian.
Eric: What’s the Italian for "business call"?
Ofelia: telefonata di lavoro
Eric: Okay, now onto the vocab.
VOCAB LIST
Eric: Let’s take a look at the vocabulary from this lesson. The first word is..
Ofelia: credito [natural native speed]
Eric: credit, financing
Ofelia: credito[slowly - broken down by syllable]
Ofelia: credito [natural native speed]
Eric: Next we have..
Ofelia: pronto [natural native speed]
Eric: ready, prepared, fit, hello (on the telephone)
Ofelia: pronto[slowly - broken down by syllable]
Ofelia: pronto [natural native speed]
Eric: Next we have..
Ofelia: aiutare [natural native speed]
Eric: to help, to aid, to assist
Ofelia: aiutare[slowly - broken down by syllable]
Ofelia: aiutare [natural native speed]
Eric: Next we have..
Ofelia: sapere [natural native speed]
Eric: to know
Ofelia: sapere[slowly - broken down by syllable]
Ofelia: sapere [natural native speed]
Eric: Next we have..
Ofelia: parlare [natural native speed]
Eric: to talk, to speak
Ofelia: parlare[slowly - broken down by syllable]
Ofelia: parlare [natural native speed]
Eric: Next we have..
Ofelia: inglese [natural native speed]
Eric: English
Ofelia: inglese[slowly - broken down by syllable]
Ofelia: inglese [natural native speed]
Eric: And last..
Ofelia: certo [natural native speed]
Eric: of course, sure
Ofelia: certo[slowly - broken down by syllable]
Ofelia: certo [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: pronto
Eric: meaning "Hello." Why do Italians say that when they’re answering the phone?
Ofelia: The habit of responding to a phone call with pronto is related to the origins of the telephone.
Eric: In the beginning there was always someone who connected the caller and the receiver.
Ofelia: Right and it seems that the person in charge of the connection used to say pronto, or "ready," meaning "ready to communicate," to make it clear that the two people could start talking.
Eric: Can you give us an example using this word?
Ofelia: Sure. For example, you can say.. Pronto, sono io!
Eric: ..which means "Hello, it's me!" Okay, what's the next phrase?
Ofelia: come posso aiutarla?
Eric: meaning "How can I help you?" This sentence is really common in a customer care context.
Ofelia: It's very polite and means that the other person is at your disposal for anything you may need.
Eric: Can you give us an example using this phrase?
Ofelia: Sure. For example, you can say.. La vedo in difficoltà, come posso aiutarla?
Eric: .. which means "You look to be in trouble, how may I help you?"
Eric: Okay, now onto the lesson focus.

Lesson focus

Eric: In this lesson, you'll learn how to say you can’t speak the language.
Ofelia: Even if you can speak some Italian, you may still need help in English, especially in very formal conversations.
Eric: Let’s first see how to say that you don’t speak Italian well.
Ofelia: To say this, you should use the verb sapere, which means “to know” when it is followed by a noun, and "to be able to" or "can," when it is followed by an infinitive verb.
Eric: You can use this verb when you want to say “I can speak Italian” or “I can’t speak Italian.”
Ofelia: In the dialogue we have non so l’italiano,
Eric: which literally means “I don’t know Italian.”
Ofelia: you can also add the verb parlare, “to speak,” in the infinitive mood and say non so parlare l’italiano.
Eric: Meaning “I can’t speak Italian.”
Ofelia: To make it sound more natural, remember to also add the adverb bene meaning “well.” So you get Non so bene l’italiano or Non so parlare bene l’italiano.
Eric: This verb is irregular, right?
Ofelia: Yes, it is.
Eric: Let’s review the conjugation of the present tense for the verb “to know”.
Ofelia: First io so
Eric: "I know"
Ofelia: tu sai
Eric: "you know"
Ofelia: lui sa
Eric: "he knows"
Ofelia: noi sappiamo
Eric: "we know"
Ofelia: voi sapete
Eric: "you know" plural
Ofelia: loro sanno
Eric: "they know" Let’s hear some examples.
Ofelia: Sai parlare inglese?
Eric: "Can you speak English?"
Ofelia: Loro sanno lavorare molto velocemente.
Eric: "They can work very speedily."
Ofelia: For many learners, it’s easy to confuse the usage of sapere, when it means “can,” with potere, because it also means “can.”
Eric: Is there any tip to avoid that?
Ofelia: In general, use sapere when you need to express an ability, and potere when making polite requests or for asking and granting permission.
Eric: There is another verb that can get learners confused.
Ofelia: Right, it’s easy to confuse the usage of sapere, when it means “to know,” with conoscere, because that also means “to know.”
Eric: This difference is actually less clear than the other one...
Ofelia: True, but keep in mind that you can use only conoscere to mean "to be acquainted with."
Eric: For example, if you need to say "We know Giorgio, Sara's friend.", you have to say...
Ofelia: Noi conosciamo Giorgio, l'amico di Sara.
Eric: Ok, once you have made it clear that you don’t feel comfortable speaking Italian, you need to ask if it’s okay to speak in another language.
Ofelia: In this case, the verb potere will come in handy, as we have seen in other situations. In the dialogue we have Possiamo parlare in inglese?
Eric: Meaning “Can we speak in English?”
Ofelia: you can also ask Posso parlare in inglese?
Eric: “Can I speak in English?” Let’s look at the difference, we already mentioned, the two Italian verbs that mean “can”.
Ofelia: As we said, Use sapere when you need to express an ability, and potere when making polite requests or for asking and granting permission.
Eric: Let’s give a practical example.
Ofelia: If you want to ask the other person “Can you speak English?”, in Italian there are two different ways that imply different meanings. One is Sa parlare inglese?
Eric: In this case, you are asking the person if he or she has ever studied, if he or she can speak at all.
Ofelia: the other is Può parlare inglese?
Eric: In this case, you assume that the other person can speak English and you are just making a polite request so that he or she will start speaking in English.
Ofelia: Here are some other examples. Paolo non sa l'inglese.
Eric: which means "Paolo can't speak English." This implies that Paolo hasn’t studied it and doesn’t have the ability.
Ofelia: And So parlare francese.
Eric: "I can speak French." This sentence refers more to one’s ability to speak French.
Ofelia: Finally, Possiamo parlare in italiano?
Eric: which means "Can we speak in Italian?" This is a request for permission, more than a question about the ability.

Outro

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

21 Comments

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😄 😞 😳 😁 😒 😎 😠 😆 😅 😜 😉 😭 😇 😴 😮 😈 ❤️️ 👍

ItalianPod101.com Verified
Monday at 06:30 PM
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Try to write down which languages you can't speak in Italian!

ItalianPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 12:20 AM
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Ciao Elena,

wow complimenti! 😮😎


Thanks for studying with us, let us know if you have any questions!


A presto,

Valentina

Team ItalianPod101.com

Elena
Sunday at 11:38 PM
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So parlare russo, inglese, francese e un po ' italiano😄. Anche studio tedesco e voglio cominciare a studiare cinese.😆😆

ItalianPod101.com
Wednesday at 01:51 AM
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Hi Laura,

thanks for your comment. It seems to work just fine for me, could you please check again? Maybe it was a temporary issue?

You may have to enable Flash Player for the pop-up to work. Also, the website tends to work better on Chrome browsers.


Let us know if you're still having trouble.

Sincerely,

Valentina

Team ItalianPod101.com

Laura
Monday at 08:43 AM
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Hello,

The recording voice feature is only working on some of the sentences, but not on the individual words.

I don't know why.


I really enjoy having the voice comparisons. Very helpful to know how the inflection of language sounds.

thanks!

ItalianPod101.com
Thursday at 10:42 AM
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Hi Ian,


Thank you for your message.

Have a great day!


Ofelia

Team ItalianPod101.com

Ian
Saturday at 05:01 PM
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😄

ItalianPod101.com
Tuesday at 04:04 PM
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Buongiorno Frank,


Fantastico! 😄👍

E' ora di studiare italiano! It's time to study Italian!


Ofelia

Team ItalianPod101.com

Frank
Wednesday at 05:42 PM
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So parlare olandese, tedesco, francese, inglese e poco italiano


ItalianPod101.com Verified
Thursday at 09:00 AM
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Hi Magdalena,


Grazie per il commento! Thank you for posting!

Stuadiamo italiano insieme! Let's study Italian together!👍


Ofelia

Team ItalianPod101.com

Magdalena
Monday at 05:35 AM
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So parlare bene polacco, inglese e poco francese. Non so bene l'italiano.