Learn Italian from Pinocchio: chapter 3, part 7

In this next portion of text that you will look at from chapter 3 of Carlo Collodi’s Le avventure di Pinocchio, Geppetto finishes Pinocchio’s mouth, and then makes his chin, neck, shoulders, stomach, arms and hands.

Geppetto, per non guastare i fatti suoi, finse di non avvedersene, e continuò a lavorare. Dopo la bocca, gli fece il mento, poi il collo, poi le spalle, lo stomaco, le braccia e le mani. Appena finite le mani, Geppetto sentì portarsi via la parrucca dal capo. Si voltò in su e che cosa vide? Vide la sua parrucca gialla in mano del burattino. — Pinocchio!… rendimi subito la mia parrucca! — E Pinocchio, invece di rendergli la parrucca, se la messe in capo per sé, rimanendovi sotto mezzo affogato.

— Carlo Collodi, Le avventure di Pinocchio, capitolo 3

In this portion of text, you have the names of a number of body parts in Italian; they are: la bócca (mouth), il ménto (chin), il còllo (neck), la spàlla (shoulder), lo stòmaco (stomach), il bràccio (arm), la màno (hand), il càpo (head).

The plural form of la mano is le mani. Whether singular or plural, this noun is feminine, despite ending in o or i.

The plural form of il braccio is le braccia; it is masculine in the singular, and feminine in the plural. That is why, in the two sentences below, you have quel and rotto in the first example (masculine singular forms), and quelle and rotte in the second example (feminine plural forms).

Quel braccio è rotto.
That arm is broken.

Quelle braccia sono rotte.
Those arms are broken.

You will remember from the last part that, even before Geppetto had finished fashioning Pinocchio’s mouth, it began to laugh and poke fun.

Look now at the first line of this post’s portion of text: Geppetto, per non guastare i fatti suoi, finse di non avvedersene, e continuò a lavorare. Guastare i fatti suoi is an older, set expression. You might translate per non guastare i fatti suoi as so as not to bother himself, so as not be bothered. Guastare means to spoil, to ruin, and i fatti suoi means one’s business. So as not be bothered, then, Geppetto pretended not to notice the mouth’s antics: finse di non avvedersene.

Finse is the third-person singular, passato remoto conjugation of the verb fingere (to pretend). The passato prossimo conjugation is ha finto.

Ha finto di lavorare.
Finse di lavorare.
He pretended to work.

Fingeva di dormire.
He was pretending to sleep.

Sta fingendo di essere incinta.
She’s pretending to be pregnant.

Avvedersi di (una cosa) means to notice (something). Avvedersene, then, means to notice it, where ne replaces di (una cosa). Finse di non avvedersene can be translated as he pretended not to notice it.

Gli fece il mento. Gli fece il collo. Gli fece le spalle. Gli fece lo stomaco. Gli fece le braccia. Gli fece le mani. You have seen the construction gli fece numerous times now. You can review it in part 4, part 5 or part 6.

Look now at the following line of text: Appena finite le mani, Geppetto sentì portarsi via la parrucca dal capo. Appena finite le mani means as soon as the hands were done. Portare via means to take away, for example:

Portalo via!
Take him away!

I carabinieri l’hanno portato via.
The carabinieri (Italian gendarmes) took him away.

Ha portato via tutta la mia roba.
He took all my stuff away.

The reflexive form portarsi via, then, means to get taken away.

Sentì portarsi via la parrucca dal capo.
He felt his wig get taken away from his head.

Sentì is the third-person singular, passato remoto conjugation of the verb sentire (to feel). Using the passato prossimo instead, you would say ha sentito.

The text then tells you that Geppetto looked up: si voltò in su. The verb voltare means to turn, just like girare does. For example, voltare a destra means to turn right, and voltare a sinistra means to turn left. The reflexive voltarsi, then, means to turn oneself (that is, to turn around).

Si voltava continuamente a guardarla.
He kept turning (himself) around to look at her.

In the text, you have si voltò in su. In su means up, upwards. Si voltò in su literally means he turned (himself) upwards, but you can understand this as meaning he looked up.

After Geppetto looked up, che cosa vide (what did he see)? Vide la sua parrucca gialla (he saw his yellow wig) in mano del burattino (in the marionette’s hand).

Geppetto orders Pinocchio to give him his wig back using the verb rendere.

Rendimi subito la mia parrucca!
Give me my wig back this instant!

In fact, this is not the first time that you are encountering the verb rendere. You saw it in chapter 2, part 9 when Geppetto and the woodworker got into a row. There are other examples of use in that post, if you wish to review.

The entire last line of this post’s portion of text reads: E Pinocchio, invece di rendergli la parrucca, se la messe in capo per sé, rimanendovi sotto mezzo affogato.

invece di rendergli la parrucca
instead of giving him his wig back

se la messe in capo per sé
(he) put it on his own head

rimanendovi sotto mezzo affogato
literally, ending up half drowned underneath it

You have seen rendimi!, which means give me back! Rendigli!, then, means give him back! The infinitive forms of these are rendermi (to give me back) and rendergli (to give him back). Rendergli la parrucca means to give him back his wig.

Look now at se la messe in capo per sé.

First, know that the expression mettersi il cappello in testa means to put the hat on one’s head. For example, si è messo il cappello in testa means he put the hat on his head. If you wanted to use the passato remoto instead, you would say si mise il cappello in testa (he put the hat on his head). If you did not want to say il cappello because the context already makes it clear that you are talking about a hat, you could say se lo mise in testa (he put it on his head).

Compare now se lo mise in testa to what you find in the text: se la messe in capo. La testa and il capo are synonymous and both mean head. Mise and messe are also synonymous; messe is a Tuscan form of the third-person singular, passato remoto conjugation of the verb mettere.

Si mise in testa il cappello.
Se lo mise in testa.
He put the hat on his head.
He put it on his head.

Si messe in capo la parrucca.
Se la messe in capo.
He put the wig on his head.
He put it on his head.

In the text, you in fact have se la messe in capo per sé. Per sé means for himself, and simply indicates that Pinocchio put the wig on his own head.

Se la messe in capo per sé.
He put it on his own head.

The last part of this portion of text reads: rimanendovi sotto mezzo affogato. Affogare means to drown.

L’hanno affogato nel lago.
They drowned him in the lake.

È morto affogato.
He drowned to death (literally, he died drowned).

Mezzo affogato, then, as you might expect, means half drowned.

The verb rimanere in this portion of text means to end up. Its past participle is rimasto.

È rimasta incinta.
She ended up pregnant.
She got pregnant.

Now compare:

Pinocchio è rimasto sotto la parrucca.
He ended up under the wig.

Vi è rimasto sotto.
He ended up underneath.

rimanendovi sotto
ending up underneath

rimanendovi sotto mezzo affogato
ending up underneath half drowned

In better style, you might say ending up half swallowed underneath.

Vi is a more formal equivalent of ci. In spoken language, you are more likely to hear:

ci è rimasto sotto,
which contracts to
c’è rimasto sotto.

On a final note, if you say aloud rimanendovi sotto mezzo affogato, group the words together properly. The words rimanendovi sotto are pronounced together, as are mezzo affogato. If you put a pause in this wording, it goes between sotto and mezzo:

rimanendovi sotto // mezzo affogato

This post’s portion of text can be understood as follows: Geppétto, per non guastàre i fàtti suòi (Geppetto, so as not to bother himself), fìnse di non avvedérsene (pretended to not notice it), e continuò a lavoràre (and continued to work). Dópo la bócca (after his mouth), gli féce il ménto (he made him his chin), pòi il còllo (then his neck), pòi le spàlle (then his shoulders), lo stòmaco (his stomach), le bràccia (his arms) e le màni (and his hands). Appéna finìte le màni (as soon as the hands had been completed), Geppétto sentì (Geppetto felt) portàrsi vìa (get taken away) la parrùcca dal càpo (the wig from his head). Si voltò in su (he looked up) e che còsa vìde (and what did he see)? Vìde la sùa parrùcca giàlla (he saw his yellow wig) in màno del burattìno (in the hand of the marionette). — Pinòcchio (Pinocchio)!… rèndimi sùbito la mìa parrùcca (give me back my wig immediately)! — E Pinòcchio, invéce di rèndergli la parrùcca (and Pinocchio, instead of giving him back his wig), se la mésse in càpo per sé (put it on his own head), rimanèndovi sótto mèzzo affogàto (ending up underneath half drowned).

In addition to the names of the body parts already listed above, here are the rest of key usages appearing in this post: rótto (broken), guastàre i fàtti suòi (to bother oneself), fìngere (to pretend), lavoràre (to work), dormìre (to sleep), incìnta (pregnant), avvedérsi di (ùna còsa) (to notice [something]), portàre vìa (to take away), il carabinière (Italian gendarme), la ròba (stuff), la parrùcca (wig), sentìre (to feel), rèndere (to give back, to return), sùbito (immediately), affogàre (to drown), il làgo (lake), rimanére (to end up), sótto (under[neath]), mésse (Tuscan usage; third-person singular, passato remoto conjugation of méttere; equivalent to mìse).