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For practice recently I found myself picking through "Vesti la Giubba," the aria from Pagliacci, which contains the following line:

La gente paga, e rider vuole qua.

I understand the general meaning of the line to be "The people pay, and they want to laugh here" but the word "rider" through me for a bit of a loop. Is it just an apocopic form of "ridere" or is it something else?

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    Welcome on ItalianSE! – abarisone Mar 28 '19 at 15:38
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    A comment that may be useful to other people finding this page in future: there is a second modern meaning of rider in Italian (pronounced like the English word), which is only a few years old and is not found in older dictionaries. – Federico Poloni Apr 3 '19 at 7:11
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You're right, rider it just an apocopic form of the verb ridere (to laugh).

A word form in which the word is lacking the final sound or syllable. Occurs in Italian, Spanish, and other languages.

Similar cases are son for sono (I am or they are), dir for dire (to say) and san for santo (saint).

From the Treccani dictionary for apocope:

apòcope s. f. [dal lat. tardo apocŏpe, gr. ἀποκοπή «troncamento», der. di ἀποκόπτω «tagliar via»]. – 1. In linguistica, caduta di una vocale finale e in generale di uno o più fonemi al termine d’una parola, come in ital. son per sono, dir per dire; san per santo; in lat. dic, duc «di’», «conduci», in luogo di dice, duce; ha sign. più ampio e meno specifico che troncamento.

As you can see from the definition it comes from Greek and means "to cut out". In linguistics it means the fall of a final vowel of a word and in general of one or more phonemes at the end of a word.

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  • It may be useful to note that apocope is used quite extensively also in spoken Italian, not only for coping with metric constraints in poetry. – egreg Mar 29 '19 at 8:00

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