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Through his sleek salesman talk I could discern duplicity.

  • See through. – Matt E. Эллен Mar 24 '14 at 11:50
  • The meaning of through in this context is similar to "by". By his way of speaking (which was like a salesman) you were able to recognize duplicity. – Novelcause Mar 24 '14 at 11:51
  • @Novelcause: In this case, it is rather not 'by', but 'despite of'. Through ("the veil of") his sleek talk (which he used to hide something) I could discern duplicity. – skymningen Mar 24 '14 at 12:07
  • So does it mean, he saw through his sleek talk and figured out his true intentions? – user41481 Mar 24 '14 at 12:08
  • @skymninge Well, it depends on how you perceive salesman talk. For me, a sleek salesman talk is a good indication of duplicity itself.. Your point is taken though. – Novelcause Mar 24 '14 at 12:17
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Another suggestion...

Compare with

Through the trees I saw a house.

I saw through the trees.

I saw a house through the trees.

The idea here is the speaker can, using a visual metaphor, 'see through' the sleek talk to something the talk doesn't quite 'obscure' - duplicity.

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The word through has numerous meanings as a preposition, adverb, and adjective. As indicated in several comments to the question, its exact meaning in the above sentence is not obvious.

It could mean by means of.

Based on his sleek salesman talk I could discern duplicity.

It could mean getting past the limitations of

Despite his sleek salesman talk I could discern duplicity.

The latter interpretation is comparable to the use of the phrasal verb see through

Through his sleek salesman talk I could see duplicity

While discern through is not a standard phrase, it has a similar sense.

The original sentence makes clear that the speaker has perceived the truth, but it is not clear whether the salesman's talk was an overcome obstacle or a facilitating clue.

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