I accept there might be regional differences, but I don't see it as a US/UK divide (I'm a British English speaker and have no problem with "era" in this sense.) I hadn't noticed that all my sources were from the USA, but here's the BBC on the Gaddafi era, the Guardian on the nuclear rivalry era, the Mirror on the pre-NHS era, and the Telegraph on the crisis era. See also the Oxford English Dictionary:
era, n 4.a. A historical period; a portion of historical time marked by the continuance throughout it of particular influences, social conditions, etc. Cf. epoch n. 5.
era, n 5. The portion of historical time to which an event is to be assigned; the approximate date, ‘period’, ‘epoch’ of an event, of a monument, etc.
I wont swear to it Fantomius, but I believe "Let's read..." is not a correct translation for "Noi leggiamo...". "We read..." and "Let's read..." are two different sentences with different meanings. "We read..." means that persons are activly reading, but "Let's read..." is a proposal to read, but is as yet not taking place. "Noi leggiamo" means "We read, and I believe "Let's read" translates as "Andiamo a leggere". A comment from a native Italian would be much appreciated.
epac-mcl ha scritto:
I believe "Let's read..." is not a correct translation for "Noi leggiamo...".
That's not correct. "Leggiamo." (without further context) can mean both "We read." and "Let's read." Trust me on this one.
In Italian, the noi form of the imperative (that is, the command form) is indistinguishable from the simple present noi form -- unless pronouns are used. Consider these examples:
- Il libro? Lo leggiamo. (The book? We're reading it.)
- Il libro? Leggiamolo. (The book? Let's read it.)
It's pretty clear that the first sentence is a simple statement, while the second is a command.
But if no pronouns are used, the following Italian sentence can be translated two ways into English:
- Leggiamo il libro. This can mean:
- We read the book. (simple present statement)
- Let's read the book. (imperative / command)
Thanks for replying Fantomius, but I still have my doubts. Perhaps "Leggiamo" (without further context) could mean "we read" and "let's read"; but surely the sentence "Leggiamo i giornali dell'epoca" contains enough context to define a simple present statement, or a command. Further, when translating from Italian to English, how would one know which version to choose, because in English there is a big difference in meaning.
No, the sentence Leggiamo i giornali dell'epoca doesn't really have enough context to determine whether it's simple present or a command, anymore than Leggiamo il libro does. (In other words, neither i giornali dell'epoca nor il libro affect the grammar to the point of distinguishing Leggiamo's proper tense.
If you look up Italian conjugation on Wikipedia, you'll see that the form crediamo of credere (conjugated similarly to leggere) shows that crediamo shows up three times: once in present tense, once in the imperative, and once in the subjunctive. (The subjunctive isn't normally confused with the others because subjunctive verbs usually show up with other verbs.) But as for the present tense and the imperative (of the noi) form, they are identical, except when pronouns are used:
The first person plural [the noi form of the Imperative] is identical to the Present Indicative, [with the exception of] pronominal suffixes.
The use of a non-pronoun direct object (like i giornali dell'epoca and il libro) never changes the verb's tense.
As for your question: How would one know which version to choose, because in English there is a big difference in meaning? Basically, you have to depend of other sentences to determine the meaning.
In every langauge, spoken sentences are rarely ever spoken alone. They often rely on other sentences spoken around it to correctly resolve possible ambiguations, and even then what's too ambiguous to resolve in one language may be acceptable in another.
For example, in English we might say:
- You go to the store.
which translates to either:
- Vai al negozio. (singular subject; tu)
- Andate al negozio. (plural subject; voi)
Translating to Italian, this poses a problem. Is you singular (tu) or plural (voi)? The answer is that you can't figure it out from just the one isolated sentence. English speakers think nothing of this ambiguation, because we're used to to you meaning singular or plural; we're not bothered by its lack of number. But most European speakers would be bothered by the ambiguity; it is strange for them to not automatically know the number denoted by you (that is, whether it is singular or plural).
Likewise, with the one-word sentence Leggiamo, English speakers are bothered by the fact that it's not clear if it's a command or a simple present statement, but Italians are not. Italians grew up with the ambiguity, and if for some reason it's not clear from other sentences what is meant, they'll simply ask for clarification.
epac-mcl, I have noticed that Duolingo tends to end commands/imperative sentences with exclamation points, and simple present tense sentences with periods (full stops), as you point out.
However, nowhere in Italian grammar (or English grammar, for that matter) is that ever a rule.
What's more, there have been several other sentences where Duolingo will accept either the imperative or the simple present for a noi-conjugated sentence (even for sentences that don't end in an exclamation point). For that reason, I happen to believe that Duolingo is supposed to accept both, but since answers are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, not all valid answers are always "caught" by Duolingo. (We've all encountered cases where we know we've submitted a valid answer only to have Duolingo reject it.)
Because of this, I'm quite sure that Duolingo's rejection of the imperative here is not reflective of an invalid translation, but rather of Duolingo simply not having/knowing all the valid translations for this particular sentence.
In short, Duolingo's convention may be to put at exclamation point at the end of imperative sentences, but that's certainly not an Italian (or English) requirement.
Duolingo is supposed to conform to proper Italian, and not the other way around. (And for many sentences, it does; but just not for this sentence for some reason.)
where do you get your information about there not being rules governing the exclamation mark?
Um... I never said that. What I said was, "Nowhere in Italian grammar is that ever a rule." And by "that," I was referring to how "...Duolingo tends to end commands/imperative sentences with exclamation points, and simple present tense sentences with periods (full stops)."
While it's true that practically all questions end in a question mark, and that practically all sentences that end in a question mark are questions, the same is not true with commands and exclamation marks. That is, if a sentence ends in an exclamation mark, it does not necessarily imply a command, nor does a command require an exclamation mark.
The link you provided (which is very good, by the way), never mentions that exclamation marks are required for commands, and in fact never even shows a command in any of its examples (at lease in the ones using exclamation marks). It simply says they are used to "express a sudden outcry or add emphasis." Nothing about commands are mentioned there.
And while it is true that many commands use emphasis (and thus use an exclamation mark), they are not commands simply because they have the exclamation mark. (If that were true, removing the exclamation mark would make them cease to be commands.)
In fact, here are some sentences that Duolingo accepts as commands/imperative, even though they lack an exclamation point:
- Andiamo. (Let's go.)
- Facciamo una passeggiata. (Let's go for a walk.)
- Ceniamo. (Let's have supper.)
- Leggiamo i giornali. (Let's read the newspapers.)
- Apri la porta. (Open the door.)
I'm sure that Duolingo rejects "Let's read the newspapers of the age" for "Leggiamo i giornali dell'epoca" not because native Italian speakers claim that the Italian sentence can't be a command, but simply because the Duolingo moderators haven't gotten around to approving all the translations it could have. There are several obvious translations, but there are also several non-obvious translations. All can be correct, but unfortunately not all are in the database as approved translations.
I'm sure you've given translations you believe are correct, yet Duolingo marks as wrong. You may very well be correct, but since Duolingo is a non-human program that has to look up answers in a database, it can't verify the correctness of your translation like a human being can. That's why we're given the option to flag Duolingo's response which allows a human moderator to review our answer.
I appreciate your comments Fantomius, and also the Wikipedia link, but I can't get away from the fact that punctuation plays an important role here. So may I offer you a more simple explanation.
1.“Leggiamo i giornali dell’epoca.” = ”We read the newspapers of the era.”
2.“Leggiamo i giornali dell’epoca?” = ”Are we reading the newspapers of the era?”
3.“Leggiamo i giornali dell’epoca!” = ”Let’s read the newspapers of the era!”
There is no ambiguity between the three examples above because of the punctuation. The Italian sentence, as Duo writes it, ends with a full stop. This makes it neither a question nor a command, but a simple statement.
That's very interesting Fantomius. Throughout my schooldays I have been taught the use of punctuation. The exclamation mark has always figured as one of the many punctuation symbols, so from where do you get your information about there not being rules governing the exclamation mark? http://grammar.yourdictionary.com/punctuation/what/Fourteen-Punctuation-Marks.html
You obviously have your ideas about this subject, of which you have written extensivly, but I am still not convinced. If and when Duo verifies your argument I'd be happy to know about it. But until then I prefer to maintain the version which I had been taught throughout my schooling.
I agree. In the link I included prior to this comment, there is for some reason no mention of exclamation marks in connection with commands. Therefore I include two more links which do cover exclamation marks in connection with commands. http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/words/exclamationmark. http://grammar.yourdictionary.com/punctuation/when/when-to-use-exclamation-marks.html. The Oxford dictionary gives an example of a command as direct speech, but there are other uses for the exclamation mark besides commands, which you can read about it in the links.
Edit: How frustrating. This comment is in reply to "Fantomius's" comment which starts:
where do you get your information about there not being rules governing the exclamation mark?"-
For some reason one is prevented to reply to a given comment, simply because the "reply" button is omitted. I must insist that the use of exclamation marks are valid. The fact that Duo is inconsistent in their use of the exclamation mark, is no exeption to the fact that Duo is inconsistent in the use of other punctuations. For example Duo never marks you wrong for omitting capital letters or any other punctuation marks. That does not make them invalid. Furthermore, Fantomius seems to suggest that Duo is infallible whilst we know from experience, with all due respect, that this is most certainly not the case, and that they very often admit to errors. Fantomius mentions that Italians grew up with the ambiguity, but surely this is only regarding the spoken language. Spoken language has no punktuation marks as has the written language, but is compensated for by diphthong and tone of voice. The written language however, is very dependent on punctuation marks, including the exclamation mark.