Learn Italian from Pinocchio: chapter 4, part 1

With this post, you begin your study of the Italian used in chapter 4 of Le avventure di Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi.

Before beginning the chapter 4 posts, I encourage you to read through the entire chapter first to become familiar with its contents. You will find a link in the index where you can read the book online.

Chapter 4 begins:

La storia di Pinocchio col Grillo-parlante, dove si vede come i ragazzi cattivi hanno a noja di sentirsi correggere da chi ne sa più di loro. Vi dirò dunque, ragazzi, che mentre il povero Geppetto era condotto senza sua colpa in prigione, quel monello di Pinocchio, rimasto libero dalle grinfie del carabiniere, se la dava a gambe giù attraverso ai campi, per far più presto a tornarsene a casa; e nella gran furia del correre saltava greppi altissimi, siepi di pruni e fossi pieni d’acqua, tale e quale come avrebbe potuto fare un capretto o un leprottino inseguito dai cacciatori.

— Carlo Collodi, Le avventure di Pinocchio, capitolo 4

The first line above is in fact the introductory text to the chapter, which is why it is not a complete sentence. It tells you this chapter will deal with the story of Pinocchio with the Grillo-parlante (Talking Cricket), in which you see how i ragazzi cattivi (bad boys) dislike being scolded by those who know more than them.

grillo
un grillo

Un grillo is a cricket, and un grillo parlante is a talking cricket. An expression you can learn using grillo is saltare come un grillo, or to jump like a cricket.

Cattivo can be used to describe misbehaved children, or anybody with a bad character.

ragazzi cattivi
bad boys

Perché sei così cattivo con me oggi?
Why are you so bad to me today?

Quella donna è cattiva.
That woman is wicked.

In the introductory line, you also come across the expression avere a noia (spelled noja in the text; noja has the same pronunciation as noia). This expression means to dislike.

Ho a noia i complimenti.
I dislike compliments.

L’ho troppo a noia.
I dislike it very much, too much.

In the next line, you see era condotto in prigione, which you will remember from the last chapter: condurre in prigione (to take to prision). Geppetto was taken to prison senza sua colpa (by no fault of his own).

Meanwhile, quel monello di Pinocchio (that rascal Pinocchio), rimasto libero dalle grinfie del carabiniere (freed from the clutches of the carabiniere), se la dava a gambe giù attraverso ai campi (made a run for it down across the fields).

There are a number of new usages to draw your attention to in that last line of text. Un monello, or rascal, is related to a word you have already seen in the book: monelleria. You will remember that Pinocchio’s pranks were referred to in the last chapter as monellerie.

La grinfia (pronounced grìnfia, with the stress on the first syllable) literally means claw; it is used figuratively in the plural here to refer to someone’s clutch over others.

È finito nelle grinfie della polizia.
He ended up in the clutches of the police.

È rimasto libero dalle grinfie del carabiniere.
He was freed from the clutches of the carabiniere.

Darsela a gambe is a set expression meaning to make a run for it, to take off running, to head for the hills, etc. Take note how to use this expression in the passato prossimo, using essere and the past participle in feminine form.

Se l’è data a gambe.
He made a run for it.

Me la sono data a gambe giù attraverso i campi.
I made a run for it down across the fields.

Attraverso can be followed by the preposition a, or not.

attraverso la strada
attraverso alla strada

attraverso i campi
attraverso ai campi

Pinocchio made a run for it per far più presto a tornarsene a casa (to return home faster). Fare presto is an important expression to learn; it means to be quick.

Fai presto! Fa’ presto!
Come on! Hurry up! Be quick!

Ho fatto presto a convincerli.
I was quick to convince them.

Ho fatto presto a tornarmene a casa.
I went back home quickly.

In Pinocchio’s great frenzy to run off (nella gran furia del correre), he jumped over a number of obstacles: greppi (slopes), siepi di pruni (blackthorn hedges) and fossi pieni d’acqua (ditches full of water). Here is the singular form of these nouns: il greppo (slope), la siepe (hedge), il pruno (blackthorn), il fosso (ditch).

The remaining portion of text tells you how Pinocchio jumped over these obstacles: tale e quale come avrebbe potuto fare un capretto (just as could have done a baby goat) o un leprottino inseguito dai cacciatori (or a baby hare chased by hunters).

Un capro is a male goat, and una capra is a female one. Un capretto is the young of a capra. Una lepre is a hare, and un leprotto is its young. Un leprottino, as used in the text, is an even younger leprotto.

Inseguire means to pursue, to chase. Un cacciatore is a hunter.

Il cacciatore ha inseguito l’orso.
The hunter chased the bear.

This post’s portion of text breaks down as follows: La stòria di Pinòcchio col Grìllo-parlànte (the story of Pinocchio with the Talking Cricket), dóve si véde (where it is seen) cóme i ragàzzi cattìvi (how bad boys) hànno a nòja di sentìrsi corrèggere (dislike hearing themselves be scolded) da chi ne sa più di lóro (by he who knows more than them). Vi dirò dùnque, ragàzzi (I shall then tell you, children), che méntre il pòvero Geppétto (that while the poor Geppetto) èra condótto sènza sùa cólpa in prigióne (was taken by no fault of his own to prison), quel monèllo di Pinòcchio (that rascal Pinocchio), rimàsto lìbero dàlle grìnfie del carabinière (freed from the clutches of the carabiniere), se la dàva a gàmbe giù attravèrso ài càmpi (made a run for it down across the fields), per far più prèsto a tornàrsene a càsa (to return home faster); e nélla gran fùria del córrere (and in the frenzy of running) saltàva grèppi altìssimi (jumped over very high slopes), sièpi di prùni (blackthorn hedges) e fòssi pièni d’àcqua (and ditches full of water), tàle e quàle cóme avrèbbe potùto fàre (just as could have done) un caprétto o un leprottìno (a baby goat or a baby hare) inseguìto dài cacciatóri (chased by hunters).

Important Italian usages appearing in this post include: la stòria (story), il grìllo (cricket), cattìvo (bad, wicked), avére a nòia (to dislike), corrèggere (to correct, to scold), la prigióne (prison), condùrre in prigióne (to take to prison), la cólpa (fault), il monèllo (rascal), la monellerìa (prank, mischief), la grìnfia (claw, clutch), le grìnfie (clutches), lìbero (free), dàrsela a gàmbe (to make a run for it), attravèrso (across), il càmpo (field), fàre prèsto (to be quick), tornàrsene a càsa (to go back home), la fùria (frenzy), il grèppo (slope), la sièpe (hedge), il prùno (blackthorn), il fòsso (ditch), il càpro ([male] goat, billy), la càpra ([female] goat), il caprétto (kid, baby goat), la lèpre (hare), il lepròtto (baby hare), il cacciatóre (hunter), inseguìre (to chase, to pursue), un órso (bear).