Learn Italian from Pinocchio: chapter 1, part 14

In this post, you will look at the Italian language used in the following portion of text from chapter 1 of Le avventure di Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi:

Intanto, posata da una parte l’ascia, prese in mano la pialla, per piallare e tirare a pulimento il pezzo di legno; ma nel mentre che lo piallava in su e in giù, sentì la solita vocina che gli disse ridendo: — Smetti! tu mi fai il pizzicorino sul corpo! —

— Carlo Collodi, Le avventure di Pinocchio, capitolo 1

The expression posare da una parte means to put to one side, to put aside. Posata da una parte l’ascia, then, means the axe (having been) put aside.

Intanto means meanwhile.

pialla
una pialla

The falegname then picked up his plane to shave the wood down: prese in mano la pialla (he picked up the plane). Prendere in mano means to pick up. In fact, you saw this expression in part 8, but in the form riprendere in mano (to pick back up) instead.

Il falegname ha preso in mano la pialla.
Il falegname ha ripreso in mano la pialla.
The woodworker picked the plane up.
The woodworker picked the plane back up.

Now that you know pialla, you also know the verb piallare (to plane, to shave down), as in piallare un pezzo di legno (to shave down a piece of wood).

Tirare a pulimento means to clean up, which is a literary usage.

The text then uses the expression nel mentre che, which is not frequently used. It means the same thing as mentre (as, while). Nel mentre che lo piallava in su e in giù, then, means as he was planing it up and down.

As he was planing the piece of wood, the falegname heard the same voice: la solita vocina. You looked at this use of solito in part 9.

The little voice then says: smetti! (stop it!). The verb smettere is an important one to learn; it means to stop, to cut it out. The infinitive form smettere is pronounced with the stress on the first syllable.

Here are examples of how you might use the verb smettere: smetti di ridere! (stop laughing!), ha smesso di piovere (it has stopped raining), ho smesso di fumare (I have stopped smoking), smetti! (stop it!, cut it out!), smettila! (stop it!, cut it out!), vuoi smetterla? (will you stop it!, will you cut it out!).

The little voice then says the the woodworker is tickling him with his plane: tu mi fai il pizzicorino sul corpo (you are tickling me). The noun pizzicorino is the diminutive form of pizzicore. Pizzicore means itch, tickle; pizzicorino, then, means little itch, little tickle.

The Treccani dictionary gives examples of how pizzicore and pizzicorino might be used: sentire un pizzicore in gola (to feel an itch, a scratch in one’s throat), gli faceva il pizzicorino sotto le ascelle (he/she tickled him under the armpits).

Related to pizzicore is the verb pizzicare, which means to sting, to (make) itch. Mi pizzicano gli occhi (my eyes are stinging), come pizzica questo maglione! (this sweater really makes me itch!), sono insetti che pizzicano (they are insects that sting). In the conjugated forms pizzica and pizzicano, be sure to put the stress on the first syllable: pìzzica, pìzzicano.

This post’s portion of text can be understood as follows: Intànto (meanwhile), posàta da ùna pàrte l’àscia (the axe put to one side), prése in màno la piàlla (he took in hand the plane), per piallàre e tiràre a puliménto (to plane and clean up) il pèzzo di légno (the piece of wood); ma nel méntre che lo piallàva in su e in giù (but as he was planing it up and down), sentì la sòlita vocìna (he heard the same voice) che gli dìsse (that said to him) ridèndo (laughing): — Smétti (stop it)! tu mi fài il pizzicorìno sul còrpo (you are making a little tickle on my body)! —

Key Italian usages from this post include: posàre (to put), da ùna pàrte (to one side), intànto (meanwhile), la piàlla (plane), piallàre (to plane), tiràre a puliménto (to clean up), nel méntre che (while, as), in su e in giù (up and down), sòlito (same old), sméttere (to stop, to cut it out), il pizzicóre (itch, tickle), il pizzicorìno (little itch, little tickle), fàre il pizzicorìno (to tickle), pizzicàre (to sting), un’ascèlla (armpit), sótto le ascèlle (under the armpits).


The image of the plane was created by Luigi Zanasi [CC BY-SA 2.0 CA].