Learn Italian from Pinocchio: chapter 4, part 2

After being released by the carabiniere, Pinocchio took off running; he has now arrived home, where he finds a big talking cricket on the wall.

In this post, you will look at the following portion of text from chapter 4 of Carlo Collodi’s Le avventure di Pinocchio:

Giunto dinanzi a casa, trovò l’uscio di strada socchiuso. Lo spinse, entrò dentro, e appena ebbe messo tanto di paletto, si gettò a sedere per terra, lasciando andare un gran sospirone di contentezza. Ma quella contentezza durò poco, perché sentì nella stanza qualcuno che fece: — Crì-crì-crì! — Chi è che mi chiama? — disse Pinocchio tutto impaurito. — Sono io! — Pinocchio si voltò, e vide un grosso grillo che saliva lentamente su su per il muro.

— Carlo Collodi, Le avventure di Pinocchio, capitolo 4

The first line of text here begins with some interesting Italian usages: giungere (to arrive), dinanzi (in front, before), uscio di strada (front door), socchiuso (ajar, half closed).

Giungere is pronounced with the stress on the first syllable (giùngere) and is conjugated with essere in the passato prossimo.

giungere a casa
to arrive home

giungere in città
to arrive in the city

Sono giunto a casa.
I arrived home.

Sei giunto tardi.
You’ve arrived late.

Sono giunto dinanzi a casa.
I arrived in front of my home.

Dinanzi a means in front of. It is a somewhat more formal version of davanti a.

Sono giunto davanti a casa.
Sono giunto dinanzi a casa.

I arrived in front of my home.

Ci siamo fermati davanti a una vetrina.
Ci siamo fermati dinanzi a una vetrina.
We stopped in front of a window display.

davanti a me, davanti a te
dinanzi a me, dinanzi a te

in front of me, in front of you

When Pinocchio arrived home, he saw that the uscio di strada era socchiuso. You have seen the noun uscio before; it means door. Uscio di strada, here, is front door; that is, the door that opens onto the street. As for socchiuso, it comes from the verb socchiudere, meaning to leave ajar.

socchiudere la finestra
to close the window part way, half way, etc.

Ho socchiuso la porta.
I closed the door part way. I left the door ajar.

Ho lasciato la porta socchiusa.
I closed the door part way. I left the door ajar.

Getting back to the story, Pinocchio pushed the door: lo spinse (from the verb spingere, to push), entered the house: entrò dentro, and barred the door: mise il paletto.

The expression mettere il paletto alla porta or, as Collodi might have said, mettere il paletto all’uscio, means to bar the door. Un paletto, as used here, is a bar placed in front of a door to prevent it from being opened. The text reads appena ebbe messo tanto di paletto, which translates to as soon as he had barred up. Tanto di is an emphatic usage:

L’ho ascoltato con tanto d’orecchi.
I was all ears listening to him.

Spalancò tanto d’occhi.
He opened his eyes wide.

Ha messo tanto di paletto.
He barred up tight, he barred all up, etc.

After Pinocchio barred the door, si gettò a sedere per terra (he threw himself to the ground to have a seat), lasciando andare un gran sospirone di contentezza (letting out a huge sigh of satisfaction). Sospirone is the augmentative form of un sospiro, meaning sigh.

What is the difference between the verbs sedere and sedersi? In general, sedere means to be seated, to be sat; sedersi means to sit down. Sedersi, then, is used to show movement, whereas sedere is used to show one’s seated state, seated position.

Sedeva su una sedia.
He was sitting on a chair. (state)

Si è seduto su una sedia.
He sat down on a chair. (movement)

In the text, you have si gettò a sedere per terra. This literally means he threw himself [down] to be sat on the ground.

gettarsi a sedere
buttarsi a sedere
to throw oneself [down] to be sat

levarsi a sedere
to rise up to be sat (from a lying-down position)

Pinocchio’s joy was short-lived (durò poco; from the verb durare, meaning to last) when he heard the crì-crì-crì of a cricket, or grillo. You will notice that Italian uses the verb fare to say what sound was made by the cricket: fare crì-crì-crì. This same applies to the sound made by any animal: il cane ha fatto bau bau (the dog went woof woof).

Impaurito (frightened), Pinocchio asks who is calling out to him: chi è che mi chiama? (who is calling me?, literally, who is it who is calling me?). The grillo responds: sono io (it is me). Learn how to say it is me, it is him, it is them, etc., in Italian:

Sono io. It is me.
È lei. It is her.
Sono loro. It is them.
Siamo noi. It is us.

In Italian, the subject is not it, as in English, but io, lei, noi, loro, etc.

Pinocchio turned around (si voltò), and saw a big cricket going slowly up the wall: un grosso grillo saliva lentamente su su per il muro. Salire means to go up; salire su per il muro means to go up the wall. Su is repeated in the text for emphasis: saliva su su per il muro (it went up [and] up the wall).

The portion of text appearing in this post breaks down as follows: Giùnto dinànzi a càsa (having arrived before the house), trovò l’ùscio di stràda socchiùso (he found the front door ajar). Lo spìnse (he pushed it), entrò déntro (went inside), e appéna èbbe mésso tànto di palétto (and as soon as he had barred up), si gettò a sedére per tèrra (he threw himself down to be sat on the ground), lasciàndo andàre un gran sospiróne di contentézza (letting out a big sigh of satisfaction). Ma quélla contentézza durò pòco (but that satisfaction lasted little), perché sentì nélla stànza (because he heard in the room) qualcùno che féce (someone who went): — Crì-crì-crì (cri-cri-cri)! — Chi è che mi chiàma (who is it who is calling me)? — dìsse Pinòcchio (said Pinocchio) tùtto impaurìto (very frightened). — Sóno ìo (it is me)! — Pinòcchio si voltò (Pinocchio turned around), e vìde un gròsso grìllo (and saw a big cricket) che salìva lentaménte su su per il mùro (that was going slowly up up the wall).

Important Italian usages appearing in this post include: giùngere (to arrive), dinànzi a, davànti a (in front of), un ùscio (door; this is a Tuscan usage), socchiùdere (to leave ajar), lasciàr socchiùso (to leave ajar), la vetrìna (window display), la pòrta (door), la finèstra (window), spalancàre (to open wide, to thrust open), il palétto (bar; used to keep door shut), gettàrsi (to throw oneself), sedére per tèrra (to be seated on the ground), lasciàr andàre (to let out), il sospìro (sigh), la contentézza (happiness, satisfaction), sedére (to be sitting, seated, sat), sedérsi (to sit down), gettàrsi a sedére, buttàrsi a sedére (to throw oneself into seated position), levàrsi a sedére (to sit up), per tèrra (on the ground), duràre (to last), pòco (little, few, not much), duràre pòco (to last a short time), impaurìto (frightened), voltàrsi (to turn around), gròsso (big, large), il grìllo (cricket), salìre (to go up), lentaménte (slowly), il mùro (wall).