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Recently, I´ve been listening to Laura Pausini´s song Scatola and there is a sentence in the lyrics that I don´t really understand from a gramatical point of view.

In the very middle of the song she says Ma io non ti ho dimenticata instead of Ma io non ti ho dimenticato. Why is this? She (Laura) is a girl that is talking to his boyfriend and, therefore, the gender of the participio should be aligned with the pronoun ti (male) and not with the subject io (female). Am I right?

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  • Could you include a short excerpt (a couple of lines before/after that one)? Commented Oct 14, 2022 at 13:21

3 Answers 3

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I don't know about that particular song, but you are absolutely right that, talking to a man (or in general anything which is grammatically masculine), the correct form should be ti ho dimenticato (or guardato or mangiato or whatever), regardless of the sex or gender of the speaker.

(By the way, Italian grammar is more lenient if the object is feminine: in that case both ti ho dimenticata and ti ho dimenticato are considered correct in modern Italian.)

EDIT: It's perhaps useful to remark that in a different use of the verb dimenticare it does agree with the subject's gender. The verb can be used as if it were a reflexive verb, dimenticarsi. In this case, one would say mi sono dimenticato di te (if the speaker is a male) or mi sono dimenticata di te (if the speaker is a female). Note also the different auxiliary verb, essere rather than avere.

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  • I'm slightly surprised by the last paragraph - I would have considered ti ho dimenticato unambiguously wrong when the object is feminine (although sometimes present in colloquial italian). Do you have a reference where this is discussed?
    – Denis Nardin
    Commented Sep 30, 2022 at 13:36
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    I agree, @DenisNardin, I find it somewhat sloppy too, but it happens quite frequently and Serianni himself records (Italiano, XI, 368) that: “La tendenza attuale è quella di lasciare invariato il participio, quale che sia la posizione del complemento oggetto; tuttavia, se l'oggetto è rappresentato da un pronome personale [...], i casi di accordo sono ancora abbastanza frequenti” and then proceeds to give some examples of both cases, taken from a contemporary newspaper.
    – DaG
    Commented Sep 30, 2022 at 14:26
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Io ho un'altra spiegazione, perché ho letto il testo della canzone di Laura Pausini.

Non ti ho dimenticata non si riferisce a un boyfriend, ma la canzone è un duetto tra due donne, due amiche di gioventù, che ricordano la loro vecchia amicizia e si dicono "Io non ti ho dimenticata".

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    In effetti qualcosa di simile era già venuto fuori in un'altra risposta (ma mi pare che lì si parlasse di un alter ego più giovane della donna che canta), poi cancellata dall'autore stesso della risposta, perché tecnicamente non riguarda la lingua italiana, ma la discografia della Pausini. Comunque quella e questa secondo me sono utili, anche se forse a rigore dovrebbero essere più commenti che risposte.
    – DaG
    Commented Oct 11, 2022 at 9:38
  • Non so, sto da poco su SE, devo dire che l'ho messo come risposta perché ho letto su Meta Exchange un thread dove si rimproveravano quelli che scrivevano le loro risposte nei commenti. Comunque credo che sia un chiarimento sulla lingua italiana (e risponde alla esplicita domanda dell'OP sul perché del femminile) perché elimina il dubbio dell'OP sull'uso del femminile nella canzone, derivante da una incomprensione del testo. La listening comprehension credo faccia parte delle abilità linguistiche. Credo comunque sia un duetto, perché leggo che ci sono due cantanti, non solo Laura Pausini. Commented Oct 11, 2022 at 12:43
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An Italian can correct me if I'm wrong, but I hypothesize that she's using the unusual form to emphasize that she's talking to a woman, specifically, herself.

Scatola is the theme song to the film/documentary Laura Pausini - Piacere di conoscerti, and she explained about the song, "Mi sono rivista adolescente, ho ripensato ai sogni che avevo e a quella che sono oggi, cercando un punto di incontro."

In the film, she imagines what life would have been like if she hadn't won San Remo and told her mom she felt like two people, the one that listened to her mom and avoided fame, and the one that listened to her dad and pursued music.

When she says, "We're the same thing (siamo la stessa cosa)," she's talking to her younger self before stardom, and means it quite literally.

That doesn't explain her finding "your" cell number and trying to reach you, BUT, Laura doesn't write her songs from scratch. She finds songs that resonate with her and adapts them to her personal circumstances (like La Solitudine: the song was written - she just had to change "Anna" to "Marco" and it became her story).

Like any good storyteller, maybe she left some of the original lyrics so the listener could interpret it a different way and see themselves in the song.

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    What do you mean by “the unusual form”?
    – DaG
    Commented Jul 28, 2023 at 7:54
  • I should have said "form unusual to me." In spoken language I don't recall hearing people say "Non l'ho dimenticata." It was always dimenticato, even when feminine.
    – Serif-M
    Commented Jan 25 at 14:54
  • I don't remember this exchange from months ago, but if you're talking about a feminine noun (Anna, una notte, una notizia), the unique (neither usual nor unusual, just the only one) correct way to say you forgot it/her is l'ho dimenticata. The phrase l'ho dimenticato refers to masculine nouns (Marco, un evento, un nome). Perhaps you're thinking about other cases, such as where the object is not a clitic pronoun: “ho dimenticato quella notte” is the correct form (even though notte is feminine).
    – DaG
    Commented Jan 25 at 22:53

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