Journalistic conditional: Italian grammar lesson 247


Key Takeaways

Unlock the subtleties of the Italian language with our deep dive into the condizionale, a must-know for any Italian learner! From polite requests to the intriguing journalistic conditional, we’ll guide you through mastering this essential mood. 🇮🇹✨

  • Express Desires: Use the condizionale presente to articulate wishes or intentions, like “Vorrei” for “I would like to.” It’s your go-to for sounding courteous and dreamy in Italian. 🌟
  • Polite Requests: Need to ask for something without sounding demanding? The present conditional softens your tone, making “Potrebbe” a polite alternative to “Can you?” 🙏
  • Uncertainty and Doubt: Not sure about something? The conditional mood is perfect for expressing uncertainty or doubt, adding a layer of speculation to your statements. 🤔
  • Conditional Actions: Talk about potential actions with conditions attached using the present conditional. It’s like saying, “If the stars align, I would do this.” ✨
  • Express Regret: The condizionale passato is your linguistic time machine for expressing regret over past actions. Think “shoulda, woulda, coulda” in Italian style. 🕰️
  • Journalistic Caution: The condizionale di dissociazione lets journalists report news with a pinch of skepticism, distancing themselves from unverified info. It’s the “allegedly” of Italian news. 📰
  • Translation Tips: When translating the journalistic conditional, ditch “would” for phrases like “reportedly” or “is said to” to maintain the original’s cautious tone in English. 🗣️
  • Real-Life Examples: See the journalistic conditional in action with examples that show how to convey reported information with a responsible, non-committal flair. 🎓

Quick facts

What is the function of the Italian condizionale di dissociazione?

It allows journalists to report unverified information while distancing themselves from the source, indicating uncertainty.

How does the Italian conditional mood enhance politeness?

By using conditional verbs like "potrebbe," requests become more polite and respectful, as in "Mi potrebbe portare una bottiglia d'acqua?"

When is the Italian present conditional typically used?

It's used to express desires, make polite requests, convey doubt, and indicate actions dependent on conditions.

How does the past conditional differ in usage from the present conditional?

The past conditional is used to express regret, discuss unfulfilled past events, and hypothesize about different past conditions.

Why is the literal translation of the Italian conditional often inappropriate in English journalism?

It fails to convey the uncertainty implied by the Italian conditional, requiring translations like "reportedly" or "allegedly."

What are some English equivalents for the Italian journalistic conditional?

Phrases like "allegedly," "reportedly," "according to," "is believed to," and "is said to" effectively translate the Italian conditional.

How does the condizionale di dissociazione affect the reader's perception?

It strategically creates a cautious distance from the information, making it clear that it's based on unverified sources.

What is an example of the condizionale di dissociazione in Italian journalism?

"Ci sarebbe stato un ennesimo attentato in Iraq," translating to "There was reportedly another attack in Iraq."

How do journalists use the present versus past conditional in reporting?

The present conditional reports ongoing situations, while the past conditional discusses events that allegedly happened.

Can you provide an example of how the conditional dissociation might be used in a news report?

"Secondo alcune fonti ci sarebbe stata un'altra esplosione," meaning "According to some sources, there was another explosion," showcases cautious reporting.

My Thoughts

What is the Italian conditional?

In Italian, we have a verbal mood that’s called condizionale. Its English equivalent is the conditional mood.

Here’s an example of a sentence in the conditional mood:

Mi potrebbe portare un bottiglia di acqua, per favore?

Could you bring me a bottle of water, please?

Potrebbe comes from the verb potere and is in the conditional. This type of verb makes the request more polite.

In today’s post, we’re going to focus on a very specific topic: il condizionale di dissociazione or the journalistic conditional.

If you don’t know or don’t remember when we use the conditional, go to the next section. Otherwise, skip it and go to the following one.

How to use the present and past conditional?

Have a look at these two sentences and pay attention to the difference in terms of meaning:

Voglio uscire.

I want to go out.

Vorrei uscire.

I would like to go out.

The first one is in the present indicative, whereas the second one is in the present conditional.

We use the Italian present conditional in the following cases:

  • To express a desire or a purpose
  • To say or to ask something kindly
  • To express doubt and uncertainty
  • To refer to an action that is possible and depends on a condition

Take a look at this sentence:

Non avrei dovuto ascoltarlo.

I shouldn’t have listened to him.

This example is in the past conditional.

We use the past conditional in these cases:

  • To express regret
  • To talk about what was supposed to have happened in the past
  • To say what would have happened if the conditions had been different

What is the condizionale di dissociazione?

The condizionale di dissociazione is a type of conditional that is widely used in journalism. In English, we can call it journalistic conditional because it’s used for reporting second-hand information and for suggesting the information reported is uncertain.

The condizionale di dissociazione allows journalists to dissociate themselves from the source: they communicate the news but cautiously distance themselves from it.

There’s some sort of distance between the journalist and the statement because it has not yet been verified. It’s a strategy journalists use to manipulate the interpretation of a given piece of information.

Now that you know this, you’ll understand better why it’s called condizionale di dissociazione, which means conditional dissociation. Dissociation is the action of disconnecting or separating.

In other words, dissociation is the action of separating yourself or considering yourself to be separate from something or someone.

So, it should all make sense now. 

Let’s now find out how to interpret or translate the condizionale di dissociazione.

How to translate the condizionale di dissociazione?

To understand how to interpret or translate the condizionale di dissociazione, let’s take a look at an example:

Ci sarebbe stato un ennesimo attentato in Iraq.

Literally: There would have been another attack in Iraq.

The literal translation of would is inappropriate here.

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The Italian conditional is used by the reporter to make it clear to the reader that the information they’re giving is based on external sources of information, so it’s not a verified fact.

How can we translate that sentence? In English, we can translate it in different ways, depending on the sentence structure and meaning:

  • Allegedly
  • Reportedly
  • According to x
  • X is believed to
  • X is said to

All of these expressions are followed by a verb in the present or past indicative and not the conditional.

In some cases, the original expression already says something like: according to or X is believed to. So, the only change would be to turn the Italian conditional into the indicative.

In this case, we could translate the above sentence as: There was reportedly an attack in Iraq.

The journalistic conditional: examples

You will see in the following examples that journalists use either the present or past conditional, depending on what they want to say:

La ragazza avrebbe 15 anni e una vita difficile.

The girl is said to be 15 and to have a difficult life.

Secondo un funzionario dell’Onu nella regione ci sarebbero molte vittime.

According to a UN official, there are many victims in the region.

Secondo alcune fonti ci sarebbe stata un’altra esplosione.

According to some sources, there was another explosion.

Il dottore sarebbe stato licenziato a causa della sua condotta.

The doctor is believed to have been fired due to his behavior.

Secondo le testimonianze il criminale sarebbe scappato subito dopo l’arrivo della polizia.

According to the testimonies, the criminal escaped immediately after the arrival of the police.

La terapia di coppia avrebbe abbassato la percentuale dei divorzi annui del 5%.

Couples therapy allegedly lowered the annual divorce rate by 5%.

Il presidente della squadra starebbe pensando di esonerare l’allenatore.

The team president is reportedly thinking of dismissing the coach.

Secondo alcune testimonianze, il giovane avrebbe rotto il finestrino di un’auto parcheggiata.

According to some witness reports, the young man smashed the window of a parked car.

Test your knowledge in 10 quick questions

What is the Italian conditional?

Is a verbal mood for expressing hypothetical or uncertain situations.

What is the "condizionale di dissociazione"?

Is a type of conditional widely used in journalism because it's used for reporting second-hand information and for suggesting the information reported is uncertain.

How to translate the "condizionale di dissociazione"?

As allegedly, reportedly, according to X, X is believed to, and X is said to. The only change would be to turn the Italian conditional into the indicative for it to be correct in English.

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