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  5. "Směl jsem říct jen málo."

"Směl jsem říct jen málo."

Translation:I could only say little.

February 5, 2018

22 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Michael620245

The translation is either ungrammatical or extremely strange, depending on dialect. "I could only say a little" is normal, but is not accepted...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VladaFu

This is not a topic in which I am too strong, and I am not completely sure about this particular sentence, but I can say that we generally distinguish:

little - málo (uncountable)

few - málo (countable)

a little, a bit - trochu (eventually něco málo?)

a few - několik

It gets more complicated with "něco málo" (somewhat?) and similar.

So "a little" may sound better here but the meaning may be slightly different.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Zeego1

To me, "I could only say little" means "I could only say the word 'little'", whereas "I could only say a little" means "I could only say a few words."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VladaFu

The above is my interpretation from an ESL speaker point of view. It could well be wrong. But I do not feel "a little" ais really the most literal or direct translation.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BoneheadBass

In that case, I think "a little" would be more natural than "little" alone on the English side.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BoneheadBass

I'm puzzling over this. If you can you give a little context for the sentence, it might help to figure out what the best English translation is.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BoneheadBass

VladaFu, there was no Reply button for your answer. I would suggest, in the context you describe, that "There was little I could say" sounds most natural. But I don't know how well that works with the CZ original. If it doesn't work, then at least the translation shown above is a pretty direct translation.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VladaFu

I was so ashamed or surprised or caught off guard that I was only able to say very few words or sentences to defend myself or to console somebody or something like that.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VladaFu

Now I realized that there is "směl". My explanation suits "mohl" instead. With směl it is that I was only allowed to say some incomplete information or only some hint or only some general description that someone authorized for public release.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/judygunson

It seems that SMEL is sometimes translated as allowed to and sometimes as able to. I'm a bit confused.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BoneheadBass

From what I understand, the basic meaning of "smět" is "to be allowed to." So I think that when it's being translated as "could," it's in the sense of being ALLOWED to do something, rather than in the sense of being ABLE to do something.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/andrew_lim

At present "I was only allowed to say a little" isn't accepted... maybe it should be?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VladaFu

"a little" is different from "little" and means more like "a bit" "little bit", in Czech "trochu" "něco málo"

But if English speakers feel little is the same as a little in this context, it could be considered.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/andrew_lim

No, I think your explanation makes sense! I buy that they are different and that I should not use "a" little.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/katrinkadee

I just read all the comments and I feel that "I could only say a little" is better than "I could only say little" which is very awkward in English unless it means that the person could only say the word "little".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BoneheadBass

Having just landed here again in a practice session, and after reviewing all of the comments currently posted (30 Jan 2019), I've added translations using "A little." Because I don't know if changing the "main" translation (shown at the top of the page) could create a problem for the reverse exercise, I've left the main one as-is.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/annicehoffman

What about "i could say but little"? It is archaic/snooty but it follows the Czech it has a perfectly clear meaning in English


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BoneheadBass

I think it works nicely on the English side, but I don't know if it's close enough to the Czech sentence. We'll need one of the CZ natives on the team to decide on that.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VladaFu

I think it can be added, I will do that.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BarbaraWhi574572

As a native English speaker, I vote for "a little" in this case as opposed to just "little".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LukasBlech

"I was allowed to say just a little" is not possible?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BoneheadBass

It would be fine on the English side; I will add if if the Czech members of the team don't see a problem with it.

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