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x Sep 18th, 2002 10:01 AM

Italian question - senta,senti, scusa, scusi?
I think this qualifies as a travel question, since it's survival language skills for Italy. Can anyone tell me the correct usage of senta/senti? And which one is formal vs informal? Same for scusa/scusi? Thank you!

gac Sep 18th, 2002 10:23 AM

Formal: Senta, Scusi<BR>Informal: Senti, scusa

x Sep 18th, 2002 10:36 AM

Grazie GAC. But Im still not sure when to use them. If I stopped a stranger for directions, would I say "Senta, scusi, dov'e la fontana di trevi?" Or if Im asking a waiter if they serve a certain dish, do I say "Senta..." Or if I bump into someone on the street, do I say Scusi or Mi dispaci?

gac Sep 18th, 2002 10:44 AM

Stopping a stranger for directions:<BR>"Scusi, per cortesia, mi puo' indicare dov'e' la fontana di trevi?"<BR><BR>Speaking to a waiter:<BR><BR>"Senta, vorrei ordinare un piatto di ...."<BR><BR>Bumping on the street:<BR><BR>"Mi scusi" or "Chiedo scusa"<BR><BR>

Dona Sep 18th, 2002 10:52 AM

X -<BR><BR>With strangers or people you don't know very well, use formal. Italians are more formal than we are... With waiters, "senta", on the street, "scusi".<BR><BR>Mi dispiace (formal and informal)<BR><BR>Dona

Alice Twain Sep 19th, 2002 04:47 AM

Do not use "senta". It actually sounds a bit harsh in italin and it is manily used to indicate that you are mildly upset. Istead you can start your phrase saiyng "Scusi" or "Mi scusi" or also "Per favore". All these can be used at will, ther is not actual difference between them. if you are talking to a waiter, you can just skip it, since the waiter will come up to your table asking for you to order. Only in case you want to call him back because you have no ore water or wine or want him to motice something or you have other requests, you can call him or her saying "Scusi" or some other word amongst those listed above when he is passing by you. "Scusi" or "Mi scusi" are also used to apologize (= sorry in English).

Dona Sep 19th, 2002 06:26 AM

Italian is a very interesting language [as I guess all languages are...]. I get many conflicting opinions from Italians on how to say certain things - not the least of which is how to ask for the restroom...<BR><BR>But anyway, my Italian teacher [from Turino] assures me that "senta" is the way to get the waiter's attention - although I must admit that as an American it sounds a bit harsh - so I sometimes say "scusi" instead...<BR><BR>go figure.<BR><BR>Dona

GAC Sep 19th, 2002 07:54 AM

I agree with Alice: "Scusi" is much softer than "Senta", and therefore preferable. However, as a foreign tourist, I can't imagine any Italian taking offense at missing this nuance.

Umbria Sep 19th, 2002 08:12 AM

Senta means "Listen!" or listen up. Does that sound polite to anyone? <BR>I hear people use it to interrupt or when pleading their side of something. I never hear anybody use it to get the attention of a waiter or a passerby.<BR>When you want to get through a crowd or past someone, you say "Permesso" instead of scusi, or excuse me, as we do in English.

Alice Twain Sep 23rd, 2002 10:39 AM

GAC:<BR><BR>I agree that any effort to speak any italian from a foreigner is to be appreciated, especially because Itlaian is not any kid of international language (for instance like English, Spanish or French), but the post was about the _best_ way to gain the attention of someone, therefore I must answer explaining which is the best way to do it, ando not just say "Well, whateer you chose it will be appreciated". I have spent fifteen years of my life trying to learn a decent English, what would have happened if I had been answered with "Well, whatever you use will be fine" when I asked explainations on the nounaces of the language (which in any case I do not yet handle with ease)? ^_^

gac Sep 23rd, 2002 11:10 AM

Alice: I agree fully with your post! Best regards GAC

Alice Twain Sep 23rd, 2002 11:31 AM

GAC:<BR><BR>Amnd thank you for not commenting on my spelling accuracy when I am typing. I assure everyone that I type almost the same way in Italian too!!! ^_^

gac Sep 23rd, 2002 11:33 AM


kam Sep 23rd, 2002 01:52 PM

I have been told my my Tuscan cousins that one says "piacere" before asking for directions or a questions (equals if you please in English), "permesso" if you want to get by someone in the crowded street (equals permit me in English) and "Scusi" if you step on someone's foot (as in I'm sorry in English) Mi dispaci is for really serious mistakes. Maybe it changes from one part of Italy to another.I do know that you don't request to eat Al Fresco in Italy since that means on ice(as in jail)--you want to ask for a table all'aperto (in the open). They will never let me forget that blunder!

Alice Twain Sep 24th, 2002 04:56 AM

Kam:<BR><BR>I am italian mothertongue, I divide my time almost equally between Milano and Pistoia (near Florence), beside I have friends in the whole Italy, and I think that you have some things mixed up (or maybe your cousins mixed up the explaination). In Italian you can say "scusi" or "mi scusi" or "per favore" in order to attract someone's attention (for asking a direction or for asking a coffee at a bar or something like that), the same way you would say "Excuse me" in English. If you trod on someone's foot yo say "scusi" or "Mi spiace" just like you would say "sorry"; if you make some really big blunder you can say "mi spiace molto" or "sono molto spiacente" (I am really sorry). You say "piacere" or "piacere di conoscerla" (more formal) when you are introduced to someone or someone intruduces himself (like you would say "Pleased to mett you"). Your use of "permesso" instead is perfect.

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