dove io strusciavo i ginocchi

theartichoke

Senior Member
English - Canada
Hi everyone,

A child is playing under a table while two women are talking. The woman doing most of the talking sbirciava sotto la tavola dove io strusciavo i ginocchi e giocavo con il gatto. Is the child shuffling around on her knees, or is she brushing up against the women's knees? Both seem entirely realistic in the context, but I feel like a native speaker will know something I don't about how strusciare should be reflexive, or there should be a pronoun in front of it, etc., etc., that will clarify the matter. :)
 
  • elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I’m 99% sure “i ginocchi” can only refer to the child’s knees. I would be very surprised if it could refer to the woman’s.
     

    Starless74

    Senior Member
    Italiano
    I believe it refers to the child brushing against the two women's knees while playing with the cat.
    Were it not for the specific setting of the scene, I would've guessed it was the child who shuffled on her knees instead (although le ginocchia would've been more accurate in that case). It really may indicate both in general, but here it's the two women's knees IMHO.
     

    theartichoke

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    I believe it refers to the child brushing against the two women's knees while playing with the cat.
    Were it not for the specific setting of the scene, I would've guessed it was the child who shuffled on her knees instead (although le ginocchia would've been more accurate in that case). It really may indicate both in general, but here it's the two women's knees IMHO.
    Well, I'm glad I at least wasn't missing something completely decisive about whose knees they were. :) Since 5 other people seem pretty sure that the knees in question belong to the little girl, could someone please clarify for me how one can tell? Is there something in the sentence structure? In the choice of verb? Perhaps sfiorare rather than strusciare if the child was brushing against the women's knees? How would the sentence be likely to read if the author had wanted to say that?

    My initial thought was that if referred to the women's knees, perhaps because the women are talking about something a child shouldn't hear, and so they were reminded of her presence (which is why the one telling the story glanced under the table) by the fact that she kept brushing up against them. But the more I thought about it, the more it seemed grammatically ambiguous.
     

    elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    could someone please clarify for me how one can tell?
    For me, it’s the absence of a personal pronoun. If it were the woman’s knees, I would expect “le strusciavo i ginocchi”.

    Another example:

    Siamo andati Marco e io al bagno.
    — Ho lavato le mani. = I washed my hands.
    Gli ho lavato le mani. = I washed Marco’s hands.
     

    Starless74

    Senior Member
    Italiano
    Well, I'm glad I at least wasn't missing something completely decisive about whose knees they were. :) Since 5 other people seem pretty sure that the knees in question belong to the little girl, could someone please clarify for me how one can tell? Is there something in the sentence structure? In the choice of verb? Perhaps sfiorare rather than strusciare if the child was brushing against the women's knees? How would the sentence be likely to read if the author had wanted to say that?
    I'm sorry, but from my part it's just a matter of guessing. I agree it's ambiguous. 🤷‍♂️
    If the majority has disagreed with my view, then go for theirs.
     

    theartichoke

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    I'm sorry, but from my part it's just a matter of guessing. I agree it's ambiguous. 🤷‍♂️
    If the majority has disagreed with my view, then go for theirs.
    Yeah, I was going to do that. I was just happy I hadn't missed something glaringly obvious. (E.g., if it had said "le strusciavo i ginocchi" and I'd missed the "le.") Ultimately, it's not terribly important whose knees they were, as the story is about something else altogether.
     

    Mary49

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Well, I'm glad I at least wasn't missing something completely decisive about whose knees they were. :) Since 5 other people seem pretty sure that the knees in question belong to the little girl, could someone please clarify for me how one can tell?
    The text doesn't say that the women are sitting at the table. It says "...tutte e due covavano la stufa a legna...", the little girl was playing with the cat under the table. They are not the women's knees.
     
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    theartichoke

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    The text doesn't say that the women are sitting at the table. It says "...tutte e due covavano la stufa a legna...", the little girl was playing with the cat under the table.
    True. I guess I assumed the table was pulled up close to the woodstove, seeing that they're also drinking mulled wine and eating boiled chestnuts. Presumably they could use a table to put their glasses and the tazzone of chestnuts on, especially since they're knitting. But you're right that the text doesn't explicitly say they're at the table, so that's more evidence that the knees are the child's. I've already changed it to that. :)
     

    Fulvia.ser

    Senior Member
    italiano, furlan
    ... sbirciava sotto la tavola dove io strusciavo i (miei) ginocchi e giocavo con il gatto.
    concordo con ohbice, francamente non riesco a vedere nessuna ambiguità: io strusciavo i miei ginocchi, anche perchè il verbo strusciare lo associo a qualcosa da fare al pavimento (non struscerei certo le ginocchia della donna).
     

    Pietruzzo

    Senior Member
    Italian
    I would've guessed it was the child who shuffled on her knees instead (although le ginocchia would've been more accurate in that case).
    Vorrei spezzare una lancia in favore di "ginocchi". In realtà ci si può trascinare sul pavimento solo muovendo un ginocchio per volta, per cui il plurale "ginocchi" mi sembra preferibile rispetto a "ginocchia" che considera i due ginocchi visti nel loro insieme.
     

    EverIvy

    Member
    Italian
    Per indicare le ginocchia di qualcun altro avrebbe scritto gli/le strusciavo i ginocchi, o piuttosto contro i ginocchi.
    Credo che uno strusci i propri ginocchi, ma che si strusci contro le ginocchia di qualcun altro.
     
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    You little ripper!

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    I can't speak for Italian knees, but English knees can be rubbed/brushed up against each other, and you don't have to be a contortionist. The 'knee' does not just refer to the knee cap but the tendons, ligaments and cartilage surrounding it.
     

    Mary49

    Senior Member
    Italian
    I can't speak for Italian knees, but English knees can be rubbed/brushed up against each other, and you don't have to be a contortionist. The 'knee' does not just refer to the knee cap but the tendons, ligaments and cartilage surrounding it.
    But the girl was under the table, on all fours, and that position doesn't allow the knees to be rubbed against each other, in my opinion.
     

    ohbice

    Senior Member
    I can't speak for Italian knees, but English knees can be rubbed/brushed up against each other, and you don't have to be a contortionist. The 'knee' does not just refer to the knee cap but the tendons, ligaments and cartilage surrounding it.
    Non credo che in italia si usi fare questa cosa di strusciare le ginocchia tra loro. Io almeno non ho mai sentito di questo uso.
    Si parla di strusciare le mani sulle ginocchia, di strusciare le ginocchia sul pavimento quando appunto si cammina carponi...
    Al limite si lasciano (o si grattugiano) le ginocchia sull'asfalto quando si cade, in bici o in moto... ;-)
     

    You little ripper!

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    But the girl was under the table, on all fours, and that position doesn't allow the knees to be rubbed against each other, in my opinion.

    Non credo che in italia si usi fare questa cosa di strusciare le ginocchia tra loro. Io almeno non ho mai sentito di questo uso.
    Si parla di strusciare le mani sulle ginocchia, di strusciare le ginocchia sul pavimento quando appunto si cammina carponi...
    Al limite si lasciano (o si grattugiano) le ginocchia sull'asfalto quando si cade, in bici o in moto... ;-)
    It was a general comment, not specifically about the OP. You can still rub one knee against the other even if you are on all fours under a table, Mary. I just tried it under my dining table. 😂
     
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    Pietruzzo

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Non riesco a visualizzare una posizione simile... :)
    fedeli-cattolici-strisciare-su-mani-e-ginocchia-in-pellegrinaggio-alla-statua-della-madonna-di...jpg
     

    theartichoke

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    Unfortunately I'm much too tall, Pietruzzo. The child would have to be pretty young to crawl under a table while having the upper part of the body erect.

    Do we know how old this child is, theartichoke? 🙂
    You people crack me up. :D All we know is that she's old enough to be interested in listening to the rather scandalous tale that her godmother is telling her mother, but young enough that her godmother thinks she might not be listening. My guess is 8 or 9. More important, I think, is the fact that she's playing with the cat. In what position would one be most likely to do that?
     

    MR1492

    Senior Member
    English -USA
    Io avrei detto 7 :rolleyes:

    The age is a matter of opinion. My granddaughter is only 6 but she remembers everything she hears and is quite “aware” of what is said around her. Plus, she’s little so I can imagine her sitting under the table (con busto eretto) while playing with the cat.

    So, if the child is a bit precocious, it’s quite possible to visualize it. Anyway, that’s just something else to consider.

    Phil
     

    Pietruzzo

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Had we not been speaking about a child I would find all this discussion about positions under the table rather amusing, since in my area "strusciare" has an erotic sense, usually:D
     
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