Learn Italian from Pinocchio: chapter 1, part 13

You will now look at the Italian used in this portion of text from chapter 1 of Carlo Collodi’s Le avventure di Pinocchio:

— Ho capito; — disse allora sforzandosi di ridere e arruffandosi la parrucca — si vede che quella vocina che ha detto ohi, me la son figurata io! Rimettiamoci a lavorare. — E perché gli era entrata addosso una gran paura, si provò a canterellare per farsi un po’ di coraggio.

— Carlo Collodi, Le avventure di Pinocchio, capitolo 1

The falegname found nobody inside the piece of wood after having knocked it against the walls. He forced himself to laugh: si sforzò di ridere. Then he ruffled his wig: si arruffò la parrucca.

Sforzarsi (di fare) means to force oneself to do, to make an effort (to do). Other examples: sforzarsi di studiare (to force oneself to study), sforzarsi di capire (to make an effort to understand).

Arruffare means to ruffle, to mess up. You might say, for example, il vento mi ha arruffato i capelli (the wind messed up my hair).

You looked at expression me la son figurata io in part 8, said again here by the falegname. You also looked at rimettiamoci a lavorare in that same post.

Gli entrò addosso la paura means he got scared, fear took hold of him. You can say that entrare addosso means something like to enter one’s body, mind. The text tells you that it was not just fear that invaded him, but great fear: una gran paura.

More specifically, the text says e perché gli era entrata addosso una gran paura (…). This can be translated as and because great fear had taken hold of him (…). Because of this great fear, he tried to hum a song to pluck up courage: si provò a canterellare (he tried to hum) per farsi coraggio (to pluck up courage).

Provarsi a fare means to try to do, like tentare.

Using farsi coraggio in the imperative, you might say to someone: fatti coraggio! This means have courage!, be brave!, but it can also mean cheer up!

Do you remember what a mezza voce means? You saw this expression in part 4. Canterellare means cantare a mezza voce.

This post’s portion of text breaks down as follows: — Ho capìto (I have understood); — dìsse allóra (he then said) sforzàndosi di rìdere (forcing himself to laugh) e arruffàndosi la parrùcca (and ruffling his wig) — si véde che (it is seen that) quélla vocìna (that voice) che ha détto óhi (that said oh), me la son figuràta ìo (I have imagined it)! Rimettiàmoci a lavoràre (let us get back to work). — E perché gli èra entràta addòsso ùna gran paùra (and because a great fear had taken hold of him), si provò a canterellàre (he tried to hum) per fàrsi un po’ di coràggio (to pluck up some courage).

Key Italian usages from this post include: sforzàrsi di fàre (to force oneself to do), arruffàre (to ruffle), entràre addósso (to take hold), ùna gran paùra (great fear), provàrsi a fàre (to try to do), canterellàre (to hum, to sing softly), fàrsi coràggio (to pluck up courage), fàtti coràggio! (have courage!, cheer up!).