Learn Italian from Pinocchio: chapter 1, part 7

This next post will look at the following portion of text appearing in chapter 1 of Carlo Collodi’s Le avventure di Pinocchio:

Figuratevi come rimase quel buon vecchio di maestro Ciliegia! Girò gli occhi smarriti intorno alla stanza per vedere di dove mai poteva essere uscita quella vocina, e non vide nessuno! Guardò sotto il banco, e nessuno; guardò dentro un armadio che stava sempre chiuso, e nessuno; guardò nel corbello dei trucioli e della segatura, e nessuno; aprì l’uscio di bottega per dare un’occhiata anche sulla strada, e nessuno. O dunque?… — Ho capito; — disse allora ridendo e grattandosi la parrucca

— Carlo Collodi, Le avventure di Pinocchio, capitolo 1

This portion of text begins with an important verb to learn: figurarsi (to imagine). Figuratevi come rimase literally means imagine how he remained (or ended up), but in better English could be said as imagine his reaction.

A few examples of figurarsi to learn from: me lo figuravo più alto (I imagined him to be taller), me lo figuravo diverso (I imagined him to be different, I thought it would be different), puoi figurarti come mi sento (you can imagine how I feel).

Getting back to figuratevi come rimase, you saw some examples of this use of rimanere in part 6, for example: sono rimasto senza soldi (I ended up penniless), è rimasta incinta (she ended up pregnant, got pregnant).

E com’è rimasto il falegname? (And how did the wordworker react?) You might say: è rimasto confuso (he was confused, he got confused), è rimasto sorpreso (he was surprised), è rimasto sbalordito (he was taken aback). Using the passato remoto instead, these become: rimase confuso, rimase sorpreso, rimase sbalordito.

The woodworker girò gli occhi smarriti (turned his confused eyes) intorno alla stanza (around the room); in other words, he looked around the room confusedly. If you can use girare to talk about turning your eyes, you can also use it to talk about turning your head: girare la testa (to turn one’s head): ha girato la testa dall’altra parte (he turned his head the other way).

The verb girarsi can be used the way English says to turn around: si è girato verso di me (he turned around to face me, he turned towards me).

Why did the falegname look around the room? Per vedere di dove mai poteva essere uscita quella vocina (to see where that little voice could have possibly come from). More literally, di dove mai poteva essere uscita can be translated as from where it could have possibly come out. The sense of possibly is contained in mai.

He looked everywhere for the source of the voice, including sotto il banco (under the bench), dentro un armadio (in a cabinet) and nel corbello (in the basket), but he did not see anybody: non vide nessuno! Of course, you can also say non ha visto nessuno (he did not see anybody), using the passato prossimo.

We learn that the cabinet was always kept closed: stava sempre chiuso, and that the basket was for trucioli (wood shavings) and segatura (sawdust). The stress in truciolo falls on the first syllable.

Finally, he opened the uscio (door) to take a look in the street: per dare un’occhiata sulla strada. Be sure to learn the expression dare un’occhiata, which you will find useful: ho dato un’occhiata a destra (I took a look to the right), ho dato un’occhiata al giornale (I took a look at the newspaper).

What’s the difference between uscio and porta, which both mean door? The Treccani dictionary offers this explanation about uscio:

usato ormai quasi esclusivamente in Toscana, dove indica in genere una porta di modesta apparenza e di modeste dimensioni

(now used almost exclusively in Tuscany, where it generally refers to a door of modest size and appearance)

Other examples of usage from Treccani include: l’uscio di casa (house door), l’uscio davanti (front door), l’uscio di dietro (back door), l’uscio di camera (bedroom door), l’uscio di cucina (kitchen door), l’uscio di salotto (living room door).

Given that the woodworker still had not discovered the source of the voice, the text then asks o dunque? (where then?). The woodworker, ridendo e grattandosi la parrucca (laughing and scratching his wig), answers: ho capito (I understand; literally, I have understood).

Grattare means to scratch, and grattarsi means to scratch oneself: il cane grattava la porta (the dog was scratching at the door), si è grattato la testa (he scratched his head), si grattava la pancia (he was scratching his belly).

This post’s portion of text breaks down as follows into English: Figuràtevi cóme rimàse (imagine how he reacted) quel buòn vècchio di maèstro Ciliègia (that good old man Maestro Ciliegia)! Girò gli òcchi smarrìti (he turned his confused eyes) intórno àlla stànza (around the room) per vedére di dóve mài potéva èssere uscìta (to see from where could have possibly come) quélla vocìna (that little voice), e non vìde nessùno (and he did not see anybody)! Guardò sótto il bànco (he looked under the bench), e nessùno (and nobody); guardò déntro un armàdio (he looked in the cabinet) che stàva sèmpre chiùso (that was always shut), e nessùno (and nobody); guardò nel corbèllo déi trùcioli e délla segatùra (he looked in the woodshavings and sawdust basket), e nessùno (and nobody); aprì l’ùscio di bottéga (he opened the workshop door) per dàre un’occhiàta ànche sùlla stràda (to take a look also in the street), e nessùno (and nobody). O dùnque (where then)?… — Ho capìto (I have understood); — dìsse allóra (he then said) ridèndo e grattàndosi la parrùcca (laughing and scratching his wig)

Key Italian usages from this post include: figuràrsi (to imagine), confùso (confused), è rimàsto confùso (he got confused), sorpréso (surprised), sbalordìto (taken aback), giràre gli òcchi (to turn one’s eyes), giràre la tèsta (to turn one’s head), dall’àltra pàrte (the other way), giràrsi (to turn around), vèrso di me (towards me), smàrrito (confused, lost), il bànco (bench), un armàdio (cabinet, cupboard), il corbèllo (basket), chso (closed), il trùciolo (woodshaving), la segatùra (sawdust), dàre un’occhta (to take a look), a dèstra (to the right), il giornàle (newspaper), un ùscio (door; this is a Tuscan usage), la pórta (door), la càmera (bedroom), la cùcina (kitchen), il salòtto (living room), l’ùscio davànti (front door), l’ùscio di dtro (back door), la parrùcca (wig), grattàre (to scratch), grattàrsi (to scratch oneself), grattàrsi la tèsta (to scratch one’s head), grattàrsi la pància (to scratch one’s belly).