Translation:I am talking to him.
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Both audio versions sound to me like "li parlo". If it is important that the the only correct answer be "gli parlo" it is duolingo's job to (a) make the audio unambiguous and/or (b) provide a context which makes the meaning clear. For the ten thousandth time I try to get through to duolingo what needs no linguistic knowledge whatsoever: meaning must come from context, not from words alone. So, e.g., the prompt might be (A) I meet him in the park; gli parlo." OR "L'incontro nel parco; I talk to him." You don't need any more context than that, and it doesn't matter what language it's in. But YOU MUST HAVE A CONTEXT BEFORE YOU CAN HAVE A MEANING.
It's not "proper" Italian, but it follows the same shift of pronouns that made "lui" and "lei" take the place of "egli" and "ella"; it's a more recent shift though, so perhaps duolingo prefers not to teach it. Apparently the Treccani dictionary (http://www.treccani.it/vocabolario/gli2/) not only supports 'gli' for 'loro', but also for 'le', which is an even more recent shift.
It's not "proper" Italian…
Dante Alighieri, Giovanni Boccaccio, Giovanni Villani, Giovanni Della Casa, Galileo Galilei, Pietro Giordani, Antonio Cesari, Giovanni Verga, Alfredo Panzini, Massimo Bontempelli, Vitaliano Brancati, and Cesare Pavese — to name a few — would disagree with that assessment.
…but it follows the same shift of pronouns that made "lui" and "lei" take the place of "egli" and "ella"…
How could it possibly be the same shift? In one case, direct-object pronouns allegedly took the place of subject pronouns; in the other, a plural pronoun allegedly took the place of a singular pronoun.
I say “allegedly” because neither is actually true. Comparisons of different editions of The Betrothed have shown that egli and ella are not replaced by lui and lei, but rather by null subjects.
Gli, meanwhile, is etymologically a merger of two different forms of the Latin demonstrative pronoun ille: illi (dative singular) and illis (dative plural). It is thus just a coincidence that gli looks the same in the singular and plural.
Illi and illis were also both gender-neutral, which is why gli is, and always has been, used with both masculine and feminine referents, regardless of number. (This was, incidentally, mentioned by the Treccani definition you linked to, so you should have known that.)
Let’s also not forget that using gli with a feminine referent is obligatory when it is followed by the clitic pronouns lo, la, li, le, or ne. The Italian for, “I gave it to her,” is, “Gliel’ho dato,” not, “*Le l’ho dato.”
By the way, I’m surprised prescriptionists don’t insist it should be, “L’ho dato a lei,” the same way they insist you say, “L’ho dato loro,” for the plural. The logic is the same: Use a stressed pronoun instead of an unstressed one.
Oh, I know where it comes from, but I also know what is acceptable and what isn't in proper Italian: when I was a child we were taught that egli, ella, esso and essa were the only 3rd person subject pronouns, that there was no indirect clitic pronoun for loro, and that the only indirect clitic pronoun for "her" was "le". Whether that was right or wrong doesn't matter: in a formal setting using "gli" for "loro" might cause a frown or a polite correction, while even in a colloquial setting using "gli" for "le" can cause people to consider you ignorant and uneducated. This other article has a more extensive discussion: http://www.accademiadellacrusca.it/it/lingua-italiana/consulenza-linguistica/domande-risposte/uso-per
i feel your pain - this is the first lesson section where i've been completely lost. i don't understand this stuff at all, and with no explanation or rules provided, i'm not sure i ever will. how is "gli" suddenly "to him" when in all previous lessons it was a plural "the"? i'm still not clear on when the plural "gli" is preferable over "le" or "i", and now i have to figure out an entirely new usage?? i'm so confused and discouraged right now. :'C
I've attached a useful chart for the various pronouns that may help clear up the confusion. The columns are: Subject, direct object, indirect object, tonic, combine, reflexive.
Here's another link that may help explain:
Interesting: I played back what was spoken on the computer and it was marked as incorrect!
I played what was spoken by Duolingo and it was marked as incorrect!!
Nothing wrong with this for "I am talking to him" as in something going on now. Unfortunately the english present progressive (and damn near every other english tense, imo as a native speaker, for that matter) is more ambiguous than italian. It can mean something that is happening at the moment, or something that is not (e.g., I am talking to him, meaning that I have not cut off communication with him, however this may not mean I am talking to him literally at this moment). In my experiences, for italian, both the second case and "I talk to him" are handled with the present tense "Gli parlo".
I'm not sure what you think it may be (as well as @angelalaro3 below) to help you out, however "gli" is the 3rd person masculine indirect object - "to him" I've got a post above (page up a few) that gives a few links for some personal pronoun tables for subject, object and indirect object, which may help. Otherwise, please expand on what your problem may be.