Learn Italian from Pinocchio: chapter 2, part 11

In this next post, you will look at the Italian language found in the following portion of text from chapter 2 of Carlo Collodi’s Le avventure di Pinocchio:

— Vorrei un po’ di legno per fabbricare il mio burattino; me lo date? — Mastr’Antonio, tutto contento, andò subito a prendere sul banco quel pezzo di legno che era stato cagione a lui di tante paure. Ma quando fu lì per consegnarlo all’amico, il pezzo di legno dette uno scossone e sgusciandogli violentemente dalle mani, andò a battere con forza negli stinchi impresciuttiti del povero Geppetto.

— Carlo Collodi, Le avventure di Pinocchio, capitolo 2

After the falegname asks Geppetto what favour he wants, Geppetto responds: vorrei un po’ di legno per fabbricare il mio burattino; me lo date? There are not any new usages here to draw your attention to (except maybe vorrei, meaning I would like), so I shall simply translate this: I would like some wood to make my marionette; will you give me some?

The falegname was tutto contento (very happy) to oblige. He went to get the piece of wood on his banco (bench) that had been the cause of so much fear to him. Notice the use of cagione here; a literal translation gives us:

il pezzo di legno che era stato cagione a lui di tante paure
the piece of wood that had been (the) cause to him of so many fears

Continuing on in the text, you have ma quando fu lì per consegnarlo all’amico. Perhaps you will remember the wording ma quando fu lì from a previous post; you looked at this in chapter 1, part 6. Literally, it means but when he was there, but an idiomatic English wording gives you but just as he was about to. The verb consegnare means to deliver, to consign, etc., but you can say it simply means to give here.

What happened next? The piece of wood “gave a shake” (dette uno scossone), so as to break free of the woodworker’s hands. The expression here is dare uno scossone, where scossone is a shake or jolt. Dette is the third-person singular, passato remoto conjugation of the verb dare; in fact, dare has two possible passato remoto conjugations in the third-person singular: diede and dette.

Diede uno scossone.
Dette uno scossone.
He gave a jolt.

Of course, using instead the passato prossimo, you would say ha dato uno scossone.

In the text, you now find sgusciandogli violentemente dalle mani. The verb sgusciare means to wriggle out, to escape. Un guscio is a shell, so sgusciare literally means something like to deshell, where the Italian prefix s- equates here to the English de-.

sgusciandogli dalle mani
wriggling out of his hands

Notice that the sense of his hands is contained in gli. If it were my hands, you would have:

sgusciandomi dalle mani
wriggling out of my hands

After the pezzo di legno broke free, it went off to hit Geppetto’s skinny shins! Andò a battere (it went to hit) con forza (with force) negli stinchi impresciuttiti (in the skinny shins) del povero Geppetto (of poor Geppetto).

The shin is called uno stinco in Italian.

Il bambino diede un calcio sullo stinco del maestro.
The child kicked the teacher in the shin.

As for the adjective improsciuttito (found in the text as impresciuttito, a Tuscan variant), this comes from the verb improsciuttire (or the Tuscan impresciuttire), meaning to become thin, skinny. You will notice that the base of this verb is prosciutto, a dry cured ham.

stinchi improsciuttiti
skinny shins

The portion of text examined in this post can be broken down as follows: — Vorrèi un po’ di légno (I would like a bit of wood) per fabbricàre il mìo burattìno (to make my marionette); me lo dàte (will you give it to me)? — Mastr’Antònio, tùtto contènto (mastr’Antonio, very happy), andò sùbito a prèndere sul bànco (went immediately to take from the bench) quel pèzzo di légno (that piece of wood) che èra stàto cagióne a lùi (that had been the cause to him) di tànte paùre (of so many fears). Ma quàndo fu lì (but just as he was about) per consegnàrlo all’amìco (to give it to his friend), il pèzzo di légno dètte ùno scossóne (the piece of wood gave a jolt) e sgusciàndogli violenteménte dàlle màni (and wriggling violently out of his hands), andò a bàttere con fòrza (went to hit with force) négli stìnchi impresciuttìti (in the skinny shins) del pòvero Geppétto (of poor Geppetto).

Key usages from this post include: il bànco (bench), la cagióne (cause, reason), consegnàre (to deliver, to give), lo scossóne (to jolt, to shake), dàre ùno scossóne (to give a jolt, shake), il gùscio (shell), il gùscio d’uòvo (eggshell), un uòvo (egg), le uòva (eggs), sgusciàre (to wriggle out, to escape), violenteménte (violently), il càlcio (kick), dàre un càlcio (to kick, to give a kick), lo stìnco (shin), impresciuttìto (skinny, thin; this is a Tuscan usage equivalent to improsciuttìto).