Learn Italian from Pinocchio: chapter 4, part 4

Pinocchio does not care one bit about the great lesson told to him by the Grillo-parlante; he would rather chase butterflies and climb trees than go to school and study.

You will look now at the following portion of text from chapter 4 of Carlo Collodi’s Le avventure di Pinocchio, where Pinocchio expresses his distaste for responsibility:

— Canta pure, Grillo mio, come ti pare e piace: ma io so che domani, all’alba, voglio andarmene di qui, perché se rimango qui, avverrà a me quel che avviene a tutti gli altri ragazzi, vale a dire mi manderanno a scuola, e per amore o per forza mi toccherà a studiare; e io, a dirtela in confidenza, di studiare non ne ho punto voglia, e mi diverto più a correre dietro alle farfalle e a salire su per gli alberi a prendere gli uccellini di nido.

— Carlo Collodi, Le avventure di Pinocchio, capitolo 4

Pinocchio is disinterested in the cricket’s great lesson; after he hears it, he tells the grillo to sing on as he pleases: canta pure come ti pare e piace. The verb cantare means to sing. By coupling it with pure, you obtain the sense of by all means, go ahead.

Canta pure.
Go ahead and sing. By all means sing on.

Fai pure, non mi dà fastidio.
Go ahead and do it; it does not bother me.

Of course, when Pinocchio tells the cricket to sing on, it is not because he is eager to hear his lessons; it is because Pinocchio does not care, and he is not going to heed the cricket’s advice no matter how much he might chirp on about it.

Pinocchio continues with come ti pare e piace. The sense of this is as you please, as you like, all you like: canta pure come ti pare e piace (go ahead and sing all you like). Pare is the third-person singular, presente conjugation of the verb parere (to seem), and piace is the same conjugation of the verb piacere (to please). A very literal translation of this expression produces as it seems to you and as it pleases you.

Fai come ti pare.
Do as you like (literally, do as it seems to you).

Fai come ti piace.
Do as you like (literally, do as it pleases you).

You will note that both parere and piacere are used with the preposition a, as in parere a qualcuno (to seem to someone) and piacere a qualcuno (to please someone; literally, to please [to] someone, to be pleasing to someone).

Il ragazzo ha fatto come gli pareva.
The boy did as he liked (literally, the boy did as it seemed to him).

Non le piace quello che ho fatto.
She does not like what I did (literally, what I did does not please [to] her; what I did is not pleasing to her).

Pinocchio continues by saying: domani, all’alba, voglio andarmene di qui, perché se rimango qui, avverrà a me quel che avviene a tutti gli altri ragazzi, vale a dire mi manderanno a scuola, e per amore o per forza mi toccherà a studiare.

In the above portion of text, there are a number of new and important verbs to pull out: rimanere (to remain, to stay), avvenire (to happen, to occur), mandare (to send) and toccare (to fall upon). Of course, you also have the verbs volere (to want) and studiare (to study).

The first-person singular, presente conjugation of the verb rimanere (to remain, to stay) is rimango. The past participle this verb is rimasto; use essere in the passato prossimo.

Io rimango qui. Sono rimasto qui.
I am remaining here. I remained here.
I am staying here. I stayed here.

Io rimango qui, non me ne vado.
I am staying here; I am not leaving.

In the verb avvenire (to happen, to occur), you will notice the root venire (to come). The third-person singular, presente conjugation is avviene; in the futuro semplice, it is avverrà. The verb’s past participle is avvenuto; use the auxiliary essere in the passato prossimo.

quello che avviene
quello che avverrà
quello che è avvenuto
that which happens
that which will happen
that which happened

Non è quello che avviene in Italia.
That is not what is happening in Italy.

The verb mandare means to send. Mandare a scuola, then, means to send to school.

Mi hanno mandato a scuola.
They sent me to school.

Lo manderanno in prigione.
They will send him to prison.

L’ho mandato per posta.
I sent it by post.

In the text, you have vale a dire mi manderanno a scuola. Learn vale a dire as a set expression; it means in other words, that is to say, where vale is the third-person singular, presente conjugation of the verb valere (to be worth, to count).

As for the verb toccare, you will have no doubt understood that this verb literally means to touch. For example:

Non toccare la mia roba!
Do not touch my stuff!

Toccare, however, has another use in Italian, which equates to something like to fall upon in English.

Mi tocca andare.
I have to leave. (It falls upon me to leave.)

Tocca a me dar le carte?
Is it my turn to deal the cards? (Does it fall upon me to deal the cards?)

A chi tocca?
Whose turn is it? (Whom does it fall upon?)

Ora tocca a te.
Now it is your turn. (Now it falls upon you.)

Mi toccherà studiare tantissimo.
I will have to study a lot. (It will fall upon me to study a lot.)

Ho dimenticato di comprare il latte, mi toccherà uscire di nuovo.
I forgot to buy the milk; I will have to go back out. (It will fall upon me to go back out.)

In all the examples above, toccare is followed immediately by a verb in the infinitive. Collodi, however, used the preposition a after toccare: mi toccherà a studiare. This is a variation on the expression.

You will continue now with the last part of what Pinocchio says: e io, a dirtela in confidenza, di studiare non ne ho punto voglia, e mi diverto più a correre dietro alle farfalle e a salire su per gli alberi a prendere gli uccellini di nido.

Dirtela in confidenza literally means to tell it to you in confidence. The expression aver voglia di fare qualcosa to means to want to do something, to feel like doing something.

Non ho voglia di farlo.
I do not want to do it. I do not feel like doing it. I have no desire to do it.

Non ho voglia di studiare.
I have no desire to study.

Non ho punto voglia di studiare.
I have no desire whatsoever to study.

Di studiare non ne ho punto voglia.
I have no desire whatsoever to study (more literally, to study I have no desire whatsoever for it).

I shall end this post with the activities that Pinocchio says he enjoys doing more:

Si diverte più a:

  • correre dietro alle farfalle,
  • salire su per gli alberi,
  • prendere gli uccellini di nido.

He has more fun:

  • chasing after butterflies,
  • climbing trees,
  • taking baby birds from the nest.

Divertirsi means to enjoy oneself. Divertirsi a fare una cosa, then, means to enjoy doing something.

Mi sono divertito.
I enjoyed myself. I had fun.

Mi diverto a studiare l’italiano.
I enjoy studying Italian.

Una farfalla is a butterfly. Correre dietro a una farfalla means to chase after a butterfly, where correre dietro literally means to run behind, to run after.

Salire su un albero means to climb a tree; literally, it means to rise on a tree, to go up on a tree. Salire sugli gli alberi, then, means to climb trees (literally, to rise on the trees, to go up on the trees). Collodi, however, uses salire su per gli alberi.

Sono salito su un albero e non riuscivo a scendere.
I climbed a tree and could not get back down.

A loro piace salire sugli alberi.
They like to climb trees.

Finally, if un uccello is a bird, then un uccellino (with the diminutive ending ino) is a baby bird, or simply any small bird.

The portion of text appearing in this post can be understood as follows: — Cànta pùre (go ahead and sing), Grìllo mìo (my cricket), cóme ti pàre e piàce (all you like): ma ìo so che domàni (but I know that, tomorrow), all’àlba (at dawn), vòglio andàrmene (I want to leave) di qui (from here), perché se rimàngo qui (because if I remain here), avverrà a me (will happen to me) quel che avviène a tùtti gli àltri ragàzzi (that which happens to all the other boys), vàle a dìre (that is to say) mi manderànno a scuòla (they will send me to school), e per amóre o per fòrza (and out of love or by force) mi toccherà a studiàre (it will fall upon me to study); e ìo, a dìrtela in confidènza (and I, to be honest with you), di studiàre non ne ho pùnto vòglia (have no desire whatsoever to study), e mi divèrto più (and I have more fun) a córrere diètro àlle farfàlle (chasing after butterflies) e a salìre su per gli àlberi (and climbing trees) a prèndere gli uccellìni di nìdo (to take baby birds from their nest).

Important Italian usages appearing in this post include: cantàre (to sing), pùre (by all means), il fastìdio (annoyance), dàre fastìdio (to annoy), parére (to seem), piacére (to please), domàni (tomorrow), all’àlba (at dawn), andàrsene (to go away, to leave), rimanére (to remain, to stay), avvenìre (to happen, to occur), mandàre (to send), toccàre (to fall upon), studiàre (to study), vàle a dìre (in other words, that is to say), la scuòla (school), l’amóre (love), la fòrza (force), la confidènza (secret, confidence), la vòglia (desire, inclination), divertìrsi (to enjoy oneself, to have fun), córrere diètro a (to chase after), la farfàlla (butterfly), un uccèllo (bird), un uccellìno (baby bird, small bird), il nìdo (nest), un àlbero (tree), salìre su un àlbero (to climb a tree), salìre sùgli àlberi (to climb trees).