Italian language series: Pinocchio, chapter 2 (part 7)

This post continues your study of the Italian used in chapter 2 of Carlo Collodi’s Le avventure di Pinocchio; you will now look at the following portion of text:

— Bravo Polendina! — gridò la solita vocina, che non si capiva di dove uscisse. A sentirsi chiamar Polendina, compar Geppetto diventò rosso come un peperone dalla bizza, e voltandosi verso il falegname, gli disse imbestialito: — Perché mi offendete? — Chi vi offende? — Mi avete detto Polendina!… — Non sono stato io.

— Carlo Collodi, Le avventure di Pinocchio, capitolo 2

The little voice calls out: bravo, Polendina! (well done, Polendina!, good for you!), using Geppetto’s nickname. Because Geppetto is a male, the little voice says bravo. When speaking to a female, you would use brava instead. (This is different to the English usage of bravo, which does not change according to gender.)

The text continues with gridò la solita vocina, che non si capiva di dove uscisse. You looked at the use of solito in chapter 1, part 9. Non si capiva (third-person singular of the imperfetto of the verb capire, to understand) means it was not understood. Non si capiva di dove uscisse, then, means it was not understood where it came (out) from. Uscisse, from uscire (to go out), is the third-person singular of the congiuntivo imperfetto.

Non si capiva di cosa stesse parlando.
It was not understood what he was talking about.
Who knows what he was talking about.
Nobody knew what he was talking about.

Non si capiva di che malattia si trattasse.
It was not clear what disease it was.
They did not know what disease they were dealing with.

In that last example, trattarsi means to be about, to regard. For example:

Posso sapere di che cosa si tratta?
Can I know what this is about?
Can I know what is going on?, what this regards?

When Geppetto was called Polendina, he got angry. The text uses the expression sentirsi chiamar Polendina, which literally means to hear himself (be) called Polendina. Note how, in the text, the idea of when, upon is rendered by a, followed by the infinitive sentirsi.

A sentirsi chiamar Polendina diventò rosso.
When he heard himself (be) called Polendina, he became red.
Upon hearing himself (be) called Polendina, he became red.

A vederlo così ho avuto i brividi.
When I saw him like that, I got shivers.
Upon seeing him like that, I got shivers.

Geppetto became red as a pepper: diventò rosso come un peperone. In other words, he became very angry. Note that un peperone in Italian is the vegetable known in English as a red pepper, green pepper, etc.

You will remember the adjective bizzoso from part 4; you learned that Geppetto is a very-quick tempered character: è bizzosissimo. In the text, you now have the noun bizza, which means anger. Geppetto diventò rosso dalla bizza (Geppetto turned red out of anger).

Geppetto then turns towards the woodworker: si volta verso il falegname. Voltarsi means to turn oneself. Voltarsi verso means to turn oneself towards. In conversations, you will also hear girarsi.

Si è girato verso di me.
Si è voltato verso di me.
He turned towards me.

Geppetto was imbestialito, or enraged. You will recognise the root of this adjective, which is bestia (beast). Believing it was the falegname who had called him Polendina, he asks the falegname why he is offending him by using that nickname: perché mi offendete? (why are you offending me?). The verb here is offendere (to offend), which takes the stress on the second syllable: offèndere.

The falegname defends himself: non sono stato io (it was not me). More examples of this usage:

Sei stato tu a spingermi?
Was it you who pushed me?

Non sono stato io.
It was not me.

Non sono stato io a spingerti.
It was not me who pushed you.

È stata lei.
It was her.

No, non sono stata io.
No, it was not me.

This portion of text translates as: — Bràvo Polendìna (bravo, Polendina)! — gridò la sòlita vocìna (yelled the same little voice), che non si capìva di dóve uscìsse (which was not understood from where it came). A sentìrsi chiamàr Polendìna (upon hearing himself called Polendina), compàr Geppétto diventò rósso (compar Geppetto turned red) cóme un peperóne (like a pepper) dàlla bìzza (out of anger), e voltàndosi vèrso il falegnàme (and turning himself towards the woodworker), gli dìsse imbestialìto (said to him, enraged): — Perché mi offendéte (why are you offending me)? — Chi vi offènde (who is offending you)? — Mi avéte détto Polendìna (you called me Polendina)!… — Non sóno stàto ìo (it was not me).

Key Italian usages from this post include: bràvo! (bravo! well done!), non si capìva (it was not understood), uscìre (to go out, to exit), la malattìa (disease), trattàrsi (to regard, to be about), il brìvido (shiver), diventàre (to become), rósso (red), il peperóne ([red, green, etc.] pepper), la bìzza (tantrum, anger), bizzóso (quick tempered), voltàrsi vèrso (to turn oneself towards), giràrsi vèrso (to turn oneself towards), la béstia (beast), imbestialìto (enraged), offèndere (to offend), sóno stàto ìo (it was me), spìngere (to push).