"He speaks behind his back."
Translation:Lui parla alle sue spalle.
It is an idiomatic expression. "parlare alle spalle di qualcuno" means "to speak behind someone's back". As in to speak furtively or deceitfully.
"Spalla" literally means "shoulder", not "back". It's hard to talk behind one of somebody's shoulders without also talking behind the other :).
In English if someone speaks at their shoulder - it would be someone whose advise you turn to when they are not there. Like they whisper in your ear - things you know they would say if they were there.
Accidentally miss the 's' off 'spalle' and you get a whole different meaning
The literal translation "lui parla dietro la sua schiena" is accepted. Would it be understood in the same way, or would the listener think someone was physically standing behind another and speaking?
I'm not a native speaker, but a google for "parla dietro la sua schiena" gave me only one hit, in a context where it was clear that a physical location was meant. I suspect that with sufficient context it could still be understood as "talking behind his back" in the English sense, but would probably sound quite unnatural.
Marialramendy: While that's true, it's an idiom and idioms don't / usually don't translate the same way from one language to another. In this case English says "back", but Italian says "shoulders." Another example: We say, "I've had it up to my neck" while Italian says "I've had it up to my hair" . Another: English: "Don't lose your patience!" Italian: "Don't lose your stirrups!" So you can't expect 1:1 equivalence when dealing with idioms or common sayings.
DL accepted "Lui parla dietro le spalle." For the first time I wonder if DL is too generous here? :):)
When we say "Lui parla alle sue spalle" and we mean the idiom one, what about"Lui parla dietro sua schiena", is this a right sentence? Can it still be an idiom or just the real meaning ?
I wonder if "Lui parla alle sue spalle" literally means "He speaks to his shoulders"?
I got this the second time around and this time it says as correct: Lui parla dietro la schiena.
He speaks to his shoulders is literal but it is an idiom. So would a person every have a back ache as opposed to a pain in the shoulder.