Hello Duolingo community,
I'm currently reading a book about Roman myths in my free time, but got stuck on one sentence last reading sessions which I can't figure out for the life of me. What's this supposed to mean? (For context, it's about taking hostages to keep a peace treaty):
Porsenna voleva essere sicuro che i Romani non se ne inventassero una della loro.
I understand the first sentence just fine, but the second one gives me grieve. What does inventassero here mean? Se ne? Una delle loro?????
Thanks in advance, Bea
I would translate it as something like, "Porsenna wanted to be sure that the Romans weren't up to one of their old tricks."
Inventarsene has a structure similar to that of andarsene, prendersela, provarci, volerci, etc., that is a standard common verb + one or two clitic pronouns which give it an idiomatic meaning. These are called procomplementary verbs (see also https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/30801627).
Inventarsene, as F.Formica wrote, means "to come up (cunningly) with a scheme, or an excuse of some kind, or some other means", for the purpose of reaching one's goal.
It can take two shades of meaning, according to whether this verb aims at depicting the subject as cunning, sly, crafty ("to pull off using a brilliant expedient", as in this sentence) or, should the excuse be fake, as one who tries to get away with something telling fibs.
se inventassero is the conditional/subjunctive imperfect form (cogjuntivo imperfetto..) from the verb "inventare" that has few different meanings.. to invent , but also to design, create, and -to make up, to lie, to fabricate .. It seems that translation would depend on the context. You took one sentence out of the context..so that is not possible to translate adequately.. Literal translation is what Linda wrote above.
..Also..do you have a dictionary..:-)) ? (there are plenty online..)
Yes, this is the meaning of inventare, although the -sene clitic pronouns are what immediately give inventarsene an idiomatic meaning.
Using the plain verb inventare, one may say:
- Inventa un'altra scusa. = Find another/ a different excuse (clearly referring to a fake justification)
Using the procomplementary verb, one would say:
- Inventatene un'altra. = Find another / a different one (i.e. a better excuse).
where ti is the reflexive pronoun for the 2nd person singular (i.e. the listener), which turns into te because it is followed by a second clitic pronoun, and ne means "of it", referring to the excuse.
Not using ne is also possible:
- Inventati un'altra scusa.
Here the verb is inventarsi (the reflexive conjugation of inventare), which is an ethical dative form, i.e. the reflexive conjugation is used to express a certain degree of emotional involvement in the action (usually to express the subject's pleasure or enjoyment in performing the action).
More common verbs used in ethical dative form are mangiare → mangiarsi, bere → bersi, leggere → leggersi, etc.
Grazie mille..As always there is SO much to learn from your comments..very much appreciated..!
"Porsenna wanted to be sure that the Romans did not invent one of their own". Over to a madrelingua for more in-depth advice. Ciao...
I would say "did not come up with one of theirs (= their usual schemes)"; the sentence is fairly colloquial.
P.S. "Se ne inventassero" is "ne" + "inventarsi" in imperfect subjunctive as Giovanna-Louise wrote. The "ne" refers to "one of theirs" in order to change it into a cleft sentence (very common in colloquial Italian); "inventarsi" compared to "inventare" tends to refer less to inventing and more to coming up with solutions or plots.
F.formica. Mille grazie for this. Interesting! Off-topic, do you know of any good busy Italian/English clubs?
No, I was never much interested in clubs, and since they added a cost to jump levels on Android I've mostly used the website anyway :/
Grazie tanto..Thank you so much for the clarification! :-)
It's not "history" because it supposedly occurred more than 500 years before anyone mentioned it: Livy, like all historians of the time, liberally mixed history with legend and hearsay. It might have occurred, but we have no way of knowing.
In my very humble opinion, it was true that he mixed up a bit: he wanted to make a best-seller. (best-seller with more than one hundred books). OK, but the seven Etruscan kings are not so much legend. Mi sono fatto il mazzo al liceo anche su Tito Livio, non abbattermelo così ! Ciao (vedo che sei molto attento, complimenti !)