Learn Italian from Pinocchio: chapter 2, part 3

In this post, you will continue looking at the chapter 2 text from Carlo Collodi’s Le avventure di Pinocchio. Specifically, you will look at this portion of text:

Allora entrò in bottega un vecchietto tutto arzillo, il quale aveva nome Geppetto; ma i ragazzi del vicinato, quando lo volevano far montare su tutte le furie, lo chiamavano col soprannome di Polendina, a motivo della sua parrucca gialla, che somigliava moltissimo alla polendina di granturco.

— Carlo Collodi, Le avventure di Pinocchio, capitolo 2

At this point in the story, Geppetto enters the workshop: entrò in bottega un vecchietto tutto arzillo. You will remember that a workshop is called a bottega in Italian. Geppetto is a vecchietto (little old man), but a lively one: arzillo.

This is also the point where we learn Geppetto’s name; the text tells us that the vecchietto aveva nome Geppetto (the little old man was called Geppetto). The expression here is avere nome.

Ha nome Geppetto.
His name is Geppetto.

Aveva nome Carlo.
His name was Carlo.

You have yet again an example of il quale, which you have seen a number of times now:

un vecchietto, il quale aveva nome Geppetto
a little old man who was called Geppetto

The children of the neighbourhood, however, called him by the nickname Polendina: i ragazzi del vicinato lo chiamavano col soprannome di Polendina.

Vicinato is a useful noun to learn; here are a few more examples of how you might use it:

la gente del vicinato
the people in the neighbourhood

Gridava così forte da farsi sentire da tutto il vicinato.
He was yelling so loud the whole neighbourhood could hear him (literally, so as to make himself heard by the whole neighbourhood).

When did the kids call Geppetto Polendina? Quando lo volevano far montare su tutte le furie (when they wanted to send him into a rage).

Furia means rage, and montare in furia means to fly into a rage. Furia is pronounced with the stress on the first syllable. A similar expression is montare su tutte le furie, also meaning to fly into a rage. Far montare su tutte le furie, then, means to make (someone) fly into a rage, to send into a rage. This is the expression used in the book.

And why did the kids call him Polendina? A motivo della sua parrucca gialla (because of his yellow wig). But not only was his wig yellow, it also resembled cornmeal: polendina di granturco.

Polenta, from which polendina derives, is a dish made from farina di granturco (literally, corn flour).

The Italian word for corn is granturco or mais.

You have the verb somigliare here, in somigliava moltissimo alla polendina di granturco (very much resembled cornmeal). Learn the verb somigliare now if you have not already:

Questa camicia somiglia alla mia.
This shirt looks like mine.

Somiglia a suo padre.
He looks like his father.

Non si somigliano affatto.
They do not look alike at all.

This post’s portion of text can be understood as follows: Allóra entrò in bottéga (thus entered the workshop) un vecchiétto tùtto arzìllo (a very lively little old man), il quàle avéva nóme Geppétto (who was named Geppetto); ma i ragàzzi del vicinàto (but the children of the neighbourhood), quàndo lo volévano far montàre su tùtte le fùrie (when they wanted to send him into a rage), lo chiamàvano col soprannóme di Polendìna (called him by the nickname Polendina), a motìvo délla sùa parrùcca giàlla (because of his yellow wig), che somigliàva moltìssimo àlla polendìna di grantùrco (which very much resembled cornmeal).

Important Italian usages from this post include: la bottéga (workshop), entràre in bottéga (to enter the workshop), il vecchiétto (little old man), arzìllo (lively, spry), avére nóme X (to be called X, to be named X), il ragàzzo (boy, kid), il vicinàto (neighbourhood), il soprannóme (nickname), chiamàre col soprannóme (to nickname), gridàre (to yell), fàrsi sentìre (to make oneself heard), la fùria (rage), montàre in fùria (to fly into a rage), montàre su tùtte le fùrie (to fly into a rage), far montàre su tùtte le fùrie (to send into a rage), a motìvo di (because of), la parrùcca (wig), giàllo (yellow), la polènta (cornmeal), il grantùrco (corn), il màis (corn), somigliàre (to look like).