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Italian Language/shoestring (shoelace)

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QUESTION: Dear Maria,

My question is about the American word “shoestring”.  In America, we often use the noun - “shoestring” to identify the lace type material that one’s uses to secure his shoes.   (This is sometimes also called a “shoelace”)  

I recently encountered the Italian word - “laccio” which was identified as a - “lace” or “string”.

I was wondering if the word - “laccio” is also used to say “shoestring”.

Or, I was wondering if I should try to form a “complemento di scopo” and say- “laccio da scarpa” in order to say “shoestring”.

Would you please tell me the proper was to say “shoestring”.

Thank you very much.

Sincerely,

Rich

ANSWER: Dear Rich,

the American word “shoestring” used to identify the lace type material that one uses to secure his shoes corresponds in Italian to “lacci da scarpe” in the plural, not in the singular “laccio da scarpa”,  unless you want to refer to only one lace as in e.g. “Ho perso un laccio di una delle mie scarpe”.

In short,  both “shoestring”  and  “shoelace” translate as “lacci da scarpe” just to denote that these laces/strings  are used to indicate  long thin pieces of material that go through the holes on a shoe and are used to fasten it.

Lastly, in “lacci da scarpe” the indirect object “da scarpe” can be considered a “complemento di scopo”, as you say.

Best regards,

Maria


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QUESTION: Dear Maria,

Thank you for your great help with this question.  I very much appreciate your help.  I hope you will not mind a follow-up question.

Just to make sure that I understand correctly, would you please help me with the following --

If my grandson walked into the room wearing both of his shoes but with one of his shoes untied, and I wanted to make sure he would not trip on this loose shoestring and fall – should I use the plural and say to him: “Allaccia i tuoi lacci da scarpe”  (Tie your shoestrings)    or,  should I use the singular and say:   “Allacia il tuo laccio da scarpa”.  (Tie your shoestring).

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Rich

ANSWER: Dear Rich,

If your grandson walked into the room wearing both of his shoes but with one of his shoes untied, and you wanted to make sure he would not trip on this loose shoestring and fall, you should use the plural and say to him: “Allacciati  i  lacci delle  scarpe”   or  “Hai le scarpe slacciate. Allacciatele!” where  you are saying to him that his shoes are unlaced  and it’s necessary to lace them.

To sum up, “shoestring” used to identify the lace type material that one uses to secure his shoes corresponds in Italian to “lacci da scarpe” in the plural, if this expression is not in a context such as in  “Allacciati i lacci delle scarpe” where however we continue to use “lacci” in the plural, not in the singular.

As for  “Allaccia i tuoi lacci da scarpe”, it would sound quite strange in Italian, while  “Allaccia il tuo laccio da scarpa” would be absolutely wrong.

Best regards,

Maria


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Maria,

Thank you!!

Can you please explain why the preposition “di” (articulated as delle) is sometimes  used to form the indirect object to say “shoestring” as in - “allacciati i lacci delle scarpe”, but at other times,  the preposition “da” is used to form the  indirect object to say “shoestring”  as in – “lacci da scarpe”.

Can you also please tell me if “allacciati” is the 2nd person singular imperative form of the pronominal verb “allacciarsi”.

If “yes”, can you also please tell me if I am correct to think that “allacciarsi” is a reflexive verb.

Thank you very much.

Sincerely,

Rich

Answer
Dear Rich,

the preposition “di”, articulated as “delle”,  in “Allacciati i lacci delle scarpe”,  is  used to form the indirect object (complemento di specificazione”)  that specifies  “scarpe” as we are talking about the laces of the shoes, i.e.  “shoestring” in English.

In Italian however the term “shoestring” translates generally as “lacci da scarpe” when for example we say “Ho bisogno di un paio di lacci da scarpe”, “Avete dei lacci da scarpe? Vorrei comprarne un paio”.

But in a context such as “Allacciati i lacci delle scarpe” or “Ho perso uno dei lacci delle mie scarpe” as well as in “I lacci degli scarponi erano rossi”, etc. we use the preposition “di”, articulated as “delle” , “dei” and  “degli”, because such a preposition introduces a “complemento di specificazione”.


As for “allacciati” in “Allacciati i lacci delle scarpe”,  it  is the 2nd person singular imperative form of the pronominal reflexive verb “allacciarsi”, also called  in Italian “riflessivo apparente”, because the pronominal particle  (“ti” in this case) is not a direct object as in “Io mi lavo” (=Io lavo me), but an indirect object since in “Allacciati” the  pronominal particle “ti” means  “a te” (complemento di termine, in Italian), that is to say that “Allacciati i lacci delle scarpe” stands for the obsolete form “Allaccia a te i lacci delle scarpe”.

Best regards,

Maria

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Italian is my mother tongue and I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning Italian Language.

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