Posted in English

Round 2

Whoop Whoop!

I finally managed to make my subscription for the Portuguese B2 exam, the intermediate Diploma. It feels like I have a long, long way to go but this should motivate me to work hard between now and November!


Posted in English

I considered…

portugal_640s…using this graphic as a sort of site icon. It reminded me of something though, and I couldn’t think what. Then it clicked: the name Portugal doesn’t come from the Arabic word for orange at all, no matter what I said last week. It’s clearly a corruption of “Pokeball”

Posted in English

AmErrorca’s Most Wanted

There are a few really stubborn mistakes I just can’t seem to get past. They crop up again and again, and I never get around to addressing them because they are boring and too obscure to be easily addressed by googling “How to do ____ in Portuguese”. I think if I could sort them out a lot of the baseline problems with my sentence-construction would be sorted and I’d be a much stronger speaker.

Little Fiddly Words In Front of Infinitives

Infinitives are the definitive forms of a verb, normally translated as “to be”, “to know”, “to do” and so on. Because of this, when I write one in portuguese I expect it to not need anything in front of it but sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. About the only rules here are to do with Gostar and Precisar, each of which takes a “de” after it

Ter can have a “que” or a “de”, depending what you’re doing and in other cases it might have an “a”, a “para” or just nothing. I need to get to the bottom of this and work out how it works once and for all.

Genders of Nouns

I think I’m right about 80% of the time but that’s not enough. Difficult to think how to do this without biting the bullet and learning them by rote. I considered making little stickers with lipstick on some and a moustache on others and sticking them on all the objects in my house, but that wouldn’t help me with abstract nouns. Have you ever tried sticking a moustache on despair?

Reflexive and Pseudo-Reflexive Verbs

First of all: there seem to be a hell of a lot of reflexive verbs – far more than in french – and I sometimes come across verbs that look like they have a reflexive pronoun but aren’t actually reflexive. They seem to be something to do with the passive voice – e.g. sabe-se que = “it is known that…” and yet my grammar book doesn’t show that as a way of constructing the passive voice. This sounds like one I will have to ask a teacher about.

Awkward Irregular Verbs

Things like Ser, Ir and Estar are easy because they get so much attention. The real killers are things like Dar, Pôr and of course the terrible twins, ver and vir, because they irregular and fairly common but not so common that you get a real familiarity with them day-to-day. I printed these buggers out ages ago, thinking I would just bruteforce it all into my head but somehow, whenever I think about it, there always seems to be something more pressing like picking fluff of the carpet with my bare hands, arranging my socks alphabetically or playing the national anthem on the teeth of a comb. Important stuff, you know.

So that’s what I’ll be working on this week in addition to my Hot Summer Reading. I’ll probably write blog posts about some of them as a way of motivating myself and getting them to stick.

Posted in English

New Look

Mixed feelings about this new site template, TBH. Don’t get too used to it because it might go away again soon…



Ooh, now this is more like it, I could get used to this!

Posted in English

Hot Summer Reading

In my effort to step up my language learning and get it on a war footing again (only about two months left till the exams FFS!) I have joined a reading challenge called Hot Summer Reading, which is run by a book blogger I follow. I feel slightly out of place in it since the other participants all seem to be young, portuguese book bloggers who arrange their beautifully-colourful books like displays of fruit, and Instagram them to near perfection. My entries are a bit dingy by comparison. The idea is I’ll read two Portuguese books (“O Principezinho” and “O Mandarim”) and one in English (“The Puppet”) and at the end I’ll write a post or record a youtube video, describing them all, in Portuguese, of course.

There are some other challenges but I’m not sure I can fit those in on top of everything else. They mainly consist of making lists of favourite books, but since I’ve only read a handful of Portuguese books I don’t have much to say about those and it seems a bit obtuse to recommend a long list of books in English to a group of portuguese people, so I’ll just stick with doing it in my own way.

Posted in Portuguese

The Martian

The Martian é um filme baseado num livro de Andy Weir. Li o livro há um ano mas apenas anteontem vi o filme. Matt Damon protagonizou um astronauta americano. No começo, estava com uma equipa de astronautas na superfície de Marte. Veio uma tempestade violenta e partiu muitas coisas. Os Astronautas fugiram em cima de hora mas acreditaram que o Matt Damon tinha morrido, e por isso deixaram-no para trás.
Coitado do Matt Damon! Está sempre em perigo. Durante o filme inteiro, ficou encalhado na superfície sem amigos, sem rádio e com pouca comida, água e oxigénio. Felizmente, todos os astronautas são pessoas de ciência, pois o Matt conseguiu estabelecer um lote de terra fértil onde cresceram batatas. Também utilizou as materiais na base para sintetizar oxigénio e água.
Desta maneira, o Matt conseguiu sobreviver durante quase três anos até que uma nave espacial chegou no planeta para salvá-lo. O argumento é incrível – literalmente e figurativamente, mas afinal é um grande exemplo do poder da ciência para superar todos os problemas da vida. Gosto muito desta ideia!

Posted in English, Portuguese

O Tyler Joseph E Eu

I wrote a narrative version of our adventures at Reading Festival on iTalki because it seemed to have more potential than just the bitty account I published yesterday. My daughter wanted an English version so I’m going to do alternate sentences, Portuguese, English, Portuguese, English.

Hi lovely. I hope you like it. It’s quite hard to be funny and interesting in a language I don’t speak well, but I tried!

So here we go…


One of these people is old enough to know better

Fomos ontem a um festival de musica.

Yesterday we went to a music festival

Tweetei “ao vivo” durante o dia inteiro em Português para praticar.

I tweeted live in portuguese all day for practice

O festival se chama Reading Festival porque fica numa cidade que se chama Reading, mas “Reading” significa “a ler” ou “leitura” e por isso usei o hashtag #festivalDaLeitura apesar do facto de que não tem nada a ver com livros.

The festival is called Reading Festival because it’s in a town called Reading, but “Reading” is the English equivalent of the portuguese words “lendo” or “leitura” (Portuguese words for reading!) so I used the hashtag #festivalDaLeitura even though it has nothing to do with books!

A minha esposa ficou confusa por isso.

My wife was confused by that

Porque é que um homem de 47 anos foi a uma festival para jovens de quinze a vinte-e cinco anos?

So why is it that a 47-year old man went to a festival for 15 to 25-year-old youngsters?

Fui com a minha filha.

Well, I went with my daughter

Ela tem onze anos – mais nova do que a média da idade duma pessoa no festival, mas é uma fã da banda Twentyøne Piløts (vinte-e-um piløtøs).

She is eleven – younger than the average age of someone at the festival but she is a fan of the band Twentyøne Piløts

Esta banda estava programada para às vinte-e-um menos dez.

This band was scheduled to play at 8.50PM

Conduzimos até ao festival na manhã e passamos o dia a explorar a arena.

We drove to the festival in the morning and spent the day exploring the arena

O Sol brilhava e o dia estava quente.

The sun shone and the day was warm.

Ouvimos várias bandas novas: Creeper, Lower Than Atlantis, Citizen, Neighbourhood, Dinosaur Pile-up.

We saw some new bands: Creeper, Lower Than Atlantis, Citizen, Neighbourhood, Dinosaur Pile-up

A experiência foi muito divertida.

The experience was really fun

Quando o relógio aproximou-se da hora de jantar, fomos para a tenda do NME onde os 21 Pilots iam tocar.

When the clock was nearing dinner time, we went to the NME tent where 21 Pilots were going to play

Chegamos muito cedo para tentar encontrar um bom sítio para ver o palco.

We arrived very early to try and find a good place to see the stage

Foi difícil, porque existiam muitos idiotas altos que empurraram em frente de nós, mas no afinal achamos um lugar perfeito.

It was difficult because there were a lot of tall idiots who pushed in front of us but finally we found the perfect place.

O Tyler Joseph está lá dentro!

Sabes os Twentyøne Piløts?

Do you know Twentyøne Piløts (Yes, I know my one English reader does!)

São bué fixe!

They’re so cool!

Quando chegaram ao palco todas as fãs gritaram e fizeram um grande barulho.

When they arrived on stage all the fans screamed and made a big noise

A música começou e dançamos, saltamos, e cantamos muito fortemente.

The music started and we danced and jumped and sang really loudly

Eles tocaram as músicas mais conhecidas, e enquanto que tocaram, fizeram muitas acrobacias loucas.

They played their best-known songs and while they were playing they did loads of crazy stunts (I don’t know how to say “hamster-ball” in Portuguese)

Depois do concerto, regressamos a casa.

After the concert we went home.

Ouvimos mais tarde que durante uma acrobacia o cantador, o Tyler Joseph, foi vitima dum assalto, mas achamos que a historia foi exagerada.

We heard later that during one of the stunts, the singer, Tyler Joseph had been the victim of an assault but we think the story was exaggerated

Caiu sobre um grupo de fãs, perdeu um sapato e a sua t-shirt. foi rasgada.

He fell on top of a group of fans, lost a shoe and his t-shirt was ripped (I don’t know how to say “ski mask” in Portuguese)

Alguns fãs ficaram bêbados mas não havia uma atmosfera nada má.

Some fans were drunk but there wasn’t a bad atmosphere.

America Reacts

Actually, that last sentence understates it – the atmosphere was amazing and the weird backlash from fans online has been a bit surreal to watch. I had someone ALLCAPS ME because I had been near the moshpit so he thought I was one of the villains who had done the deed.

Anyway, that’s my story. If two blog posts weren’t enough and you want to know more about these smol beans there’s another eyewitness account of the crime here written by my daughter, who has employed much higher journalistic standards in her account and is able to supply far more detail.

Posted in Portuguese


Este fim de semana, a minha família e eu fomos a Oxford*.

Ficamos hospedados num hotel e visitamos vários lugares turísticos – a biblioteca “Bodleian” (onde foram filmadas as cenas dos filmes** “Harry Potter”) e uma escola da universidade famosa. Infelizmente, Oxford fica no Reino Unido e por isso o tempo estava húmido e frio, mas a cidade é linda, e gostamos muito dela. Mais importante, comprámos muitos livros. Adoramos os livros.
No domingo (hoje!), remei em Oxford City Regatta (Regata da Cidade de Oxford) com o meu amigo japonês. Perdemos ambas as corridas. Os nossos oponentes eram homens grandes e fortes com muita experiência e muito treino, mas não faz mal. O dia estava bom. Enquanto que eu remava, a minha mulher e filha caminharam ao longo do rio e foram ao cinema para ver o filme “Swallows and Amazons”

*=No Google Mapas Oxford se chama Oxónia mas acho que não é comum em Portugal. Pode ser é um nome Brasileiro para a cidade…?
In fact, Sophia informs me:

Na verdade é um nome aportuguesado, mas creio que não é muito comum em Portugal. Tens aqui a explicação:

**=I wrote “a serie Harry Potter” as a literal translation of “The Harry Potter Series” (of films) but although “serie” is used in Portuguese it seems only apply to actual TV series.

Posted in English

Portugal Is Not The Only Fruit

I saw something really interesting online the other day. Someone shared a link from imgur showing all the different words used for “orange” in languages in and around Europe.

The word for the fruit “orange” in various European languages

Notice anything? I’m looking at the green ones, mainly. These are countries with strong Arabic influences or strong Greek ones. And… They all seem to be close variants of “Portugal”. This aroused my curiosity, so I did what any self-respecting inhabitant of the twenty-first century would do: I looked it up on Wikipedia.

According to this section, the origin of the name of the country is from the Latin “Portus Cale” – the port of Cale, where Cale is probably a Celtic name for something-or-other. It evolved into Portugal between the seventh and ninth centuries when the country had been conquered by an Arabic-speaking army and was part of the land known as الأندلس (Al-Andalus). I can’t help feeling like the similarity of “Portus Cale” to their word for a small fruit might have influenced the colonists’ pronunciation of the name of their new possession. Citrus fruits do grow in the area, so maybe if there were a lot of orange groves around it might have been a pretty good fit to call it the orange region. A few centuries later, after the reconquista rolled back the invaders, the name lives on.  A place named after orange groves isn’t far-fetched. Orange County in California got its name the same way, although California hasn’t been conquered by Muslims, whatever Donald Trump might tell you.

I have absolutely no idea if there’s any truth in this. Fact-checking was never my strong point. It would be an odd linguistic legacy. Portuguese does have some inheritances from Arabic (there’s a list here if you’re interested) but their word for Orange (“laranja”) não é um deles. And yet, it just seems too… well, too right.

Posted in Portuguese

Live-Tweeting in Portuguese

Fomos ao “Reading Festival” hoje (vamos aos fatos: ontem. É depois da meia-noite agora). Decidi de tweetar/ pipiar “ao vivo” e em Português durante o dia inteiro. Traduzi o nome do festival “Festival da leitura” porque o nome da cidade – “Reading” também significa “A Leitura”. É uma piada.