Learn Italian from Pinocchio: chapter 5, part 5

Pinocchio’s meal takes off on him just as he is about to put an end to his hunger. In the next portions of text from chapter 5 of Le avventure di Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, you read what happens when Pinocchio cracks open the egg that he has found.

Your study begins here with:

Detto fatto, pose un tegamino sopra un caldano pieno di brace accesa: messe nel tegamino, invece d’olio o di burro, un po’ d’acqua:

— Carlo Collodi, Le avventure di Pinocchio, capitolo 5

Pinocchio has just decided that he will prepare his egg in the tegamino, or small frying pan. Learn the following usages from this first line: détto fàtto (no sooner said than done), il tegamìno (small frying pan), il caldàno (brazier), pièno di (full of), la bràce (embers), accéso (lit, burning), l’òlio (oil), il bùrro (butter), l’àcqua (water).

Un caldano, or brazier, is a metal container that holds hot coals. As for the expression detto fatto, you have seen it before. You also have here the conjugation messe (he put), which is a Tuscan usage; it is the third-person singular, passato remoto conjugation of the verb mettere, equivalent to mise. You have seen the conjugation messe before; perhaps you will remember when Pinocchio took Geppetto’s wig and put it on his own head: se la messe in capo per sé.

This first line breaks down as follows: Détto fàtto (no sooner said than done), póse un tegamìno (he put a small frying pan) sópra un caldàno (over a brazier) pièno di bràce accésa (full of burning embers): mésse nel tegamìno (he put in the frying pan), invéce d’òlio o di bùrro (instead of oil and butter), un po’ d’àcqua (a little water).

The story continues:

e quando l’acqua principiò a fumare, tac!… spezzò il guscio dell’uovo, e fece l’atto di scodellarvelo dentro.

— Carlo Collodi, Le avventure di Pinocchio, capitolo 5

From this line, learn the following Italian usages: principiàre a (to start to), fumàre (to let out smoke, steam), spezzàre (to break, to crack), il gùscio (shell), fàre l’àtto di (to do as though), la scodèlla (bowl), scodellàre (to pour into a bowl).

A few comments about the last usages are required: una scodella is a bowl, and scodellare literally means to pour into a bowl, to serve into a bowl. For example, scodellare la minestra means to pour the soup into a bowl. In the text, Pinocchio is about to pour the contents of the cracked egg not into una scodella, but un tegamino. The verb scodellare is used figuratively here; you can simply understand it as meaning to pour.

As for the expression fare l’atto di, this is not the first time you are encountering it. You may remember when Pinocchio went to remove the lid from a boiling pot, without realising the pot had been painted on the wall: fece l’atto di scoperchiarla. With the expression fare l’atto di, Collodi expresses the idea of attempting to carry out an action, but being unable to follow through. In the case of the pot lid, Pinocchio went to remove it, but he was unable to because it was painted, not real. In the case of the egg, Pinocchio went to pour its contents out, but he was unable to because a talking chick popped out instead.

The entire line breaks down as follows: e quàndo l’àcqua principiò a fumàre (and when the water started to boil), tac!… spezzò il gùscio dell’uòvo (crack…!, he cracked the egg shell), e féce l’àtto di scodellàrvelo déntro (and went to pour it* into it+).

*the egg
+the frying pan

In the wording scodellarvelo dentro, vi (which becomes ve before lo) literally means there. Even though dentro (in, inside) already tells you where, vi is included nonetheless. You saw a similar usage in gettarvisi sopra, where both sopra and vi tell you where. Although you might translate scodellarvelo dentro literally as to pour it there inside, it would be more natural to say to pour it into it. Similarly, gettarvisi sopra translates literally as to throw oneself there on top, but in natural English translates as to throw oneself on top of it, to pounce on top of it, etc.

The text continues:

Ma invece della chiara e del torlo scappò fuori un pulcino tutto allegro e complimentoso, il quale facendo una bella riverenza disse:

— Carlo Collodi, Le avventure di Pinocchio, capitolo 5

Vocabulary to be learned here includes: la chiàra (egg white; when liquid, la chiàra dell’uòvo; when cooked, il biànco dell’uòvo), il tórlo (egg yolk; this is a variation of tuòrlo), scappàre fuòri (to escape), il pulcìno (chick), allègro (happy, gay), complimentóso (courteous, ceremonious), la riverènza (bow), fàre ùna riverènza (to take a bow).

There is nothing particularly challenging in this line other than its new vocabulary, so I shall simply break it down: Ma invéce délla chiàra e del tórlo (but instead of the egg white and the yolk) scappò fuòri un pulcìno tùtto allégro e complimentóso (a very gay and ceremonious chick popped out), il quàle facèndo ùna bèlla riverènza dìsse (who, taking a deep bow, said): […].

I shall end this post with what the chick said after popping out of its shell:

— Mille grazie, signor Pinocchio, d’avermi risparmiata la fatica di rompere il guscio! Arrivedella, stia bene e tanti saluti a casa! —

— Carlo Collodi, Le avventure di Pinocchio, capitolo 5

From this portion, learn the following vocabulary: mìlle (thousand), mìlle gràzie (many thanks, a thousand thanks), risparmiàre (to save, to spare), la fatìca (trouble, bother), rómpere (to break), arrivedélla (good-bye; this is a Tuscan variation of arrivedérla, both of which are formal usages), stàre bène (to be well), il salùto (greeting).

The imperative stia bene (from the expression stare bene, to be well) is the formal form. The informal imperative form is stai bene, or sta’ bene. Using the expression stare bene, you can also say:

Stai bene?
Are you okay?

Non sto bene.
I am not okay. I am not well.

In this post, you will notice that you have come across two different ways to talk of breaking an egg shell: spezzare il guscio and rompere il guscio.

The chick’s words break down as follows: Mìlle gràzie (many thanks), signór Pinòcchio (mister Pinocchio), d’avérmi risparmiàta la fatìca di rómpere il gùscio (for having spared me the trouble of breaking the shell)! Arrivedélla (good-bye), stìa bène (be well) e tànti salùti a càsa (and my greetings to the family)!