Translation correct?

CEHartman

CEHartman

In the Survival Kit lesson on Italian humor there is a line that says:
Avere una figlia poco sveglia
To not have a quick-thinking daughter

I do not see how that sentence is a negative statement. It seems to me that is says: To have a quck-thinking daughter.
Is the translation correct? 
Catherine 
caterina-rocket-italian-tutor

caterina-rocket-italian-tutor

Hi Catherine, 

Thanks for your question!

The literal translation of the Italian sentence "Avere una figlia poco sveglia" is "To have a daughter not so smart". Consequently, this means "To not have a quick-thinking daughter".
It is a negative statement since it means that the daughter is not very clever. 

The confusion may come from the fact that the Italian sentence says "poco sveglia" (not so smart) while the English sentence says "quick-thinking"; they are opposite adjectives but please note that the Italian verb is affirmative (avere - to have) while the English one is negative (to not have). Consequently, the meaning is similar in both languages. 

I hope this clarifies, don't hesitate to let me know in case I can provide more details :)
 
CEHartman

CEHartman

I am still confused. How would you say:

To have a quick-thinking daughter.
caterina-rocket-italian-tutor

caterina-rocket-italian-tutor

Hi Catherine, 

In order to say "to have a quick-thinking daughter", you would say "avere una figlia sveglia" (or "avere una figlia intelligente").

Here a comparison between the two sentences that may help you understand better:

"avere una figlia poco sveglia" = literally means "To have a daughter barely smart", which consequentely means "To not have a quick-thinking daughter".
"avere una figlia sveglia" = means "To have a  quick-thinking daughter "

Notice how the term "poco" in front of "sveglia" changes the meaning of the sentence. 

Let me know if this helps :)
CEHartman

CEHartman

That clarifies it, thank you!
Peter--252

Peter--252

I think we have similar types of phrases in English, they are called “litotes” - see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Litotes for explanation.

Apart from the examples the Wiki gives, a couple of decades back you might have heard the response “You're not wrong!” to a comment, a mildly humorous or emphatic way of saying “You got that right!”. 

 

Or you might think of Winnie-the-Pooh who apparently described himself as “a bear of little brain”. :)

 

Whether the above Italian phrase using poco belongs to the same family perhaps Caterina could comment!

 

caterina-rocket-italian-tutor

caterina-rocket-italian-tutor

Hi Peter, 

Thanks for providing so many details, I personally don't think it could have been explained any better!

Indeed, the example is a litote :)

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