Learn Italian from Pinocchio: chapter 7, part 1

This post begins your study of the Italian language as used in chapter 7 of Le avventure di Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi.

Should you wish to read the chapter before beginning your study here, you will find a link in the index where you can read the book online.

The introductory text to chapter 7 reads as follows:

Geppetto torna a casa, e dà al burattino la colazione che il pover’uomo aveva portata per sè.

— Carlo Collodi, Le avventure di Pinocchio, capitolo 7

From this introduction, you learn that Geppetto returns home in this chapter, and that he gives the breakfast meant for himself to Pinocchio instead. From this short portion of text, learn the following usages: tornàre a càsa (to return home, to go back home), la colazióne (breakfast), portàre per sé (to bring for oneself).

is the third-person singular, presente conjugation of the verb dare (to give). The accent used in the conjugation distinguishes it from the Italian preposition da.

The introductory text breaks down as follows: Geppétto tórna a càsa (Geppetto returns home), e dà al burattìno (and gives to the marionette) la colazióne che il pover’uòmo (the breakfast that the poor man) avéva portàta per sé (had brought for himself).

The main text of the chapter now begins:

Il povero Pinocchio, che aveva sempre gli occhi fra il sonno, non s’era ancora avvisto dei piedi, che gli si erano tutti bruciati: per cui appena sentì la voce di suo padre, schizzò giù dallo sgabello per correre a tirare il paletto; ma invece, dopo due o tre traballoni, cadde di picchio tutto lungo disteso sul pavimento. E nel battere in terra fece lo stesso rumore, che avrebbe fatto un sacco di mestoli, cascato da un quinto piano.

— Carlo Collodi, Le avventure di Pinocchio, capitolo 7

When Pinocchio hears Geppetto’s voice and leaps down from the stool to go open the door, he discovers that he is unable to walk. Usages to learn or review from this portion of text include: fra il sónno (half-asleep; literally, amongst the sleep), avvedérsi di ùna còsa (to notice something), bruciàre (to burn), schizzàre giù da (to leap down from), lo sgabèllo (stool), il palétto (bar; used to keep door shut), il traballóne (stagger, wobble), il pìcchio (strike, pound, wallop), cadére di pìcchio (to crash down), distèndere (to spread; its past participle is distéso), il paviménto (floor), bàttere in tèrra (to hit the ground), il rumóre (noise), il sàcco (bag, sack), il méstolo (wooden spoon, ladle), cascàre (to fall), quìnto (fifth), il piàno (storey).

The expression avvedersi di una cosa means to notice something. To say to notice it, you can use avvedersene (pronounced avvedérsene); for example: l’ho fatto senza avvedermene (I did it without noticing it). In the text, you read: non s’era ancora avvisto dei piedi (he had still not noticed his feet), where avvisto is the past participle of the verb, and s’era is a contraction of si era. Si è avvisto dei piedi (he noticed his feet), si era avvisto dei piedi (he had noticed his feet).

Turn your attention now to the part of the text that reads: gli si erano tutti bruciati. What got burnt were Pinocchio’s feet: i piedi gli si erano bruciati. A very literal translation of this produces: the feet to him had burnt themselves; what you can understand from this, however, is the feet had burnt on him (where on him is expressed by gli). If you take now the following wording: non si era avvisto dei piedi, che gli si erano bruciati, you will understand that it means he had not noticed his feet, which had burnt on him.

The verb schizzare literally means to squirt; for example l’acqua è schizzata (the water squirted), il sangue è schizzato fuori (the blood squirted out). In the text, you find schizzare giù; although this might very literally mean to squirt down, you will understand it here as meaning to leap down. A similar expression is schizzare via; very literally, it means to squirt away, but you can understand it as meaning to take off, to bolt; appena mi ha visto è schizzato via (as soon as he saw me, he bolted).

You have seen the noun paletto before; you will remember it from chapter 4, where it appeared as part of the expression mettere il paletto. In that chapter, Pinocchio closed the door by barring it: mettere il paletto (literally, to put the bar). Now, in the current portion of text, Pinocchio wants to open the door by lifting the bar: tirare il paletto (literally, to pull the bar).

Un picchio is a slam, strike; that is, every time you strike an object, each strike delivered is a picchio. The expression cadere di picchio, then, is used to describe crashing down to the ground as though a strike, or picchio, had been delivered to it: to crash down, to come slamming down, etc.

The expression cadere di picchio uses the verb cadere (to fall). In this portion of text, you also find a second verb for to fall: cascare. Both cascare and cadere use the auxiliary essere in the passato prossimo: è caduto, è cascato (he fell).

Each storey of a building is called un piano in Italian; il primo piano (first floor), il secondo piano (second floor), il terzo piano (third floor), il quarto piano (fourth floor), il quinto piano (fifth floor). The ground-level floor is il piano terra. Use the preposition al to talk about being on or going to a certain floor: è al piano terra (it is on the ground floor), abito al terzo piano (I live on the third floor), andare al quinto piano (to go to the fifth floor).

This portion of text breaks down as follows: Il pòvero Pinòcchio (poor Pinocchio), che avéva sèmpre gli òcchi (who still had his eyes) fra il sónno (half-asleep), non s’èra ancóra avvìsto déi pièdi (had still not noticed his feet), che gli si èrano tùtti bruciàti (which had burnt on him entirely): per cùi (reason for which) appéna sentì la vóce di sùo pàdre (as soon as he heard the voice of his father), schizzò giù dàllo sgabèllo (leapt down from the stool) per córrere a tiràre il palétto (to run to unbar the door); ma invéce (but instead), dópo dùe o tre traballóni (after two or three staggers), càdde di pìcchio (crashed down) tùtto lùngo distéso (entirely spread out) sul paviménto (on the floor). E nel bàttere in tèrra (and in hitting the ground) féce lo stésso rumóre (he made the same noise), che avrèbbe fàtto (that would have made) un sàcco di méstoli (a sack of ladles), cascàto da un quìnto piàno (fallen from a fifth floor).

The story continues:

— Aprimi! — intanto gridava Geppetto dalla strada. — Babbo mio, non posso, — rispondeva il burattino piangendo e ruzzolandosi per terra. — Perchè non puoi? — Perchè mi hanno mangiato i piedi. — E chi te li ha mangiati? — Il gatto, — disse Pinocchio, vedendo il gatto che colle zampine davanti si divertiva a far ballare alcuni trucioli di legno.

— Carlo Collodi, Le avventure di Pinocchio, capitolo 7

Pinocchio tells Geppetto that he cannot walk and blames it on the cat. Important usages to know from this section include: aprìre (to open), il bàbbo (dad, daddy), ruzzolàre (to roll, to tumble), il gàtto (cat), la zàmpa (paw), la zampìna davànti (little front paw), divertìrsi (to amuse oneself, to have fun), far ballàre (to flick around; literally, to make dance), il trùciolo (shaving).

You will notice that Italian uses aprimi as a command to say open up. Aprimi here does not mean open me; instead, it translates literally as open for me. What is understood is aprimi la porta, or open the door for me.

If you rolled a barrel along the ground, you could use the verb ruzzolare to describe the action: ruzzolare un barile (to roll a barrel; barile is pronounced barìle). The presente conjugations of this verb are pronounced rùzzolo, rùzzoli, rùzzola, etc. Ruzzolare can also be used in the sense of to come tumbling down: è ruzzolato per le scale (he came tumbling down the steps), è ruzzolato dal letto (he tumbled out of bed). Gli anni ruzzolano means the years fly by; the verb is pronounced rùzzolano.

Mi hanno mangiato i piedi literally means they have eaten my feet. The “they” in question here does not refer to a specific group of people; you will understand the Italian as simply meaning my feet have been eaten. Similarly, mi hanno rubato il portafoglio means my wallet has been stolen.

Perhaps you will remember the noun truciolo from the very first chapter of the book, when the falegname, upon hearing a little voice in his workshop, looked in the corbello dei trucioli e della segatura to see where it had come from.

The paw of an animal, such as a cat, is called una zampa. In this portion of text, you find zampina instead. The ino (ina) ending highlights the small character of a thing; una zampina, then, means little paw. La zampa davanti is front paw; la zampa di dietro is back paw. Also used in Italian are la zampa anteriore (front paw) and la zampa posteriore (back paw); in the plural, these become le zampe anteriori and le zampe posteriori.

This portion of text can be understood as follows: — Àprimi (open up)! — intànto gridàva Geppétto dàlla stràda (yelled meanwhile Geppetto from the street). — Bàbbo mìo (my dad), non pòsso (I cannot), — rispondéva il burattìno (replied the marionette) piangèndo e ruzzolàndosi per tèrra (crying and rolling on the ground). — Perché non puòi (why can you not)? — Perché mi hànno mangiàto i pièdi (because my feet have been eaten). — E chi te li ha mangiàti (and who ate them on you)? — Il gàtto (the cat), — dìsse Pinòcchio (said Pinocchio), vedèndo il gàtto che (seeing the cat that) cólle zampìne davànti (with its little front paws) si divertìva a far ballàre (was entertaining itself by flicking about) alcùni trùcioli di légno (some wood shavings).

The final portion of text you will look at here reads:

— Aprimi, ti dico! — ripetè Geppetto — se no, quando vengo in casa, il gatto te lo do io! — Non posso star ritto, credetelo. Oh! povero me! povero me, che mi toccherà a camminare coi ginocchi per tutta la vita. —

— Carlo Collodi, Le avventure di Pinocchio, capitolo 7

Pinocchio laments that he will have to walk evermore on his knees. Usages to know from this portion of text include: ripètere (to repeat), rìtto (erect, upright, standing), star rìtto (to stand, to be standing), crédere (to believe), camminàre (to walk), il ginòcchio (knee; its plural forms are le ginòcchia and i ginòcchi).

Ripeté is the third-person singular, passato remoto conjugation of the verb ripetere (to repeat). Vengo is the first-person singular, presente conjugation of the verb venire (to come).

Ritto means erect, upright. standing. When you are standing on your feet, you are ritto. The expression star ritto means to stand, to be standing. In chapter 6, you saw the expression reggersi ritto, where reggersi means to hold oneself up. Reggersi ritto, then, means to hold oneself upright; that is, to remain on one’s feet.

You looked at different examples of the verb toccare in a previous post. For example, mi tocca andare means I have to leave. You can review this verb in that post, if necessary.

The noun il ginocchio has two plural forms: le ginocchia and i ginocchi. If you are talking about your own pair of knees, or the pair of knees of anybody else, use the plural le ginocchia. The plural i ginocchi is used to talk about numerous individual knees, such as un ortopedico specializzato in ginocchi (orthopaedist specialised in knees). That said, Collodi uses i ginocchi to talk of one’s own pair of knees; camminare coi ginocchi in this portion of text means to walk on my knees. You saw another example of ginocchi in rizzandosi su i ginocchi. Note that il ginocchio is a masculine noun, whereas the plural le ginocchia is feminine and ends in a. This a ending is a remnant of Latin.

You will notice that Geppetto addresses Pinocchio with tu, whereas Pinocchio addresses Geppetto with voi; this is seen when Geppetto says: aprimi, ti dico, and Pinocchio says: non posso star ritto, credetelo.

This final portion of text can be broken down as follows: — Àprimi (open up), ti dìco (I say to you)! — ripeté Geppétto (repeated Geppetto) — se no (otherwise), quàndo vèngo in càsa (when I come in the house), il gàtto te lo do ìo (it is me who will have the cat after you)! — Non pòsso star rìtto (I cannot stand), credételo (believe it). Oh! pòvero me (oh, poor me)! pòvero me (poor me), che mi toccherà a camminàre cói ginòcchi (for I shall have to walk on my knees) per tùtta la vìta (for life). —