Posted in Portuguese

O Concerto

15306007_1865943630286437_1487436874996776960_nOntem, fui com a minha família à sala de concertos que se chama “Union Chapel” para assistir a um concerto do António Zambujo. Havia muitos portugueses. Antes do seu concerto, um grupo canadiano tocou mas fomos aborrecido*. Todavia, o António foi excelente. A música foi boa e fez várias piadas que fizeram rir a plateia. Infelizmente, achei o seu sotaque difícil de entender. As únicas palavras (quase únicas ….) que entendi foram as letras cantadas por uma mulher ao pé de mim. O seu sotaque era de Lisboa e não parou de cantar durante o concerto inteiro. Muito obrigado, mulher barulhenta!

*=”foi maçador” = “it was boring”

Posted in English

In Recovery

The period after an exam is always a bit difficult. I’m taking the time to catch up on reading all the books that have been crying out to be read for the last couple of months. It’s lovely but I can’t let myself get out of practice or it’ll be hard to recover and get back to where I was.

Posted in English

Este é o Verdadeiro Teste – The Portuguese Empire Strikes Back

So today was the big day. I turned up just before nine at the embassy and met a Spanish woman on the doorstep who was there for the same reason I was, so unlike last time I wasn’t going to be on my own! We chatted for a while, quite fluently and well, albeit with our different accents until the invigilator came and showed us into the exam room. It was good to have company, although a espanhola  realised early on that we had sat down in random places and had the wrong exam papers with the wrong candidate numbers. If she hadn’t seen that, I would have had her mark and she mine. Having heard her speak, I think I would have had the best of that deal. She was very good. Well, she spoke Spanish already, and that’s like Portuguese but easier and without the Saudade, so she was already half way there.

Part 1

The first part of the exam was straightforward written comprehension. I was a bit low on time and I could see that the last set of questions were written answers (filling in missing words) so I jumped ahead to there because I thought if I ran out of time and had to guess the last few answers it would be a lot easier with multiple choice answers than having to pull words out of the air. In the end, no guessing was needed, but the last few answers were pretty rushed. I feel like I got a pretty decent mark in spite of some pretty tricky double-negatives and a lot of ambiguity to catch the unwary.

Part 2

Next up should have been the written section but they gave us compreensão de Oral instead. This was by far my worst subject last time but I had better strategy this time. I could see that the first 5 questions allowed an extra minute to read the answers but the last two didn’t, so I used the time before the start to read those last two and make little text notes so that I wouldn’t be overwhelmed when they came around. I don’t think I got them all right, but it wasn’t a rout like it was in the B1 exam, either.

Part 3

Then came the written section, which consisted of a letter to an airline company who had lost my bags, damn their eyes. I gave them a good ticking off I can tell you! Levaram nas orelhas! Then there was a short essay question about current affairs with a choice of three subjects. I chose traffic congestion because it’s a pet topic of mine and I have ranted about it more than once in text and in spoken Portuguese. The final question was a short exercise in rewriting sentences in different forms, changing from indicative to subjunctive and passive to active and so on. Some were so easy I worried I might have been missing something but I think I did OK.

Part 4

And so we come to the last section – the dreaded Produção Oral. In this section, having a second person in  the room with me was both a blessing and a curse. It was a curse because there were now twice as many people looking expectantly at me while I was talking, which made me nervous and unsettled, but on the “blessing” side of the ledger, the examiner alternated between us, so that we had time to marshall our thoughts and could even get an idea of what we were going to be asked next. I must admit, I forgot a lot of what I had told myself during the first stages of the presentation. I didn’t speak slowly, I blurted. And I skipped past some of my prepared set-pieces in favour of short, easy routes to the end of a question. Very bad. At one point, I started describing my holiday in Lisboa and realised in mid-sentence that I’d forgotten the name of the Torre De Belém. An awkward moment (it felt like about three weeks) passed before I finally unstuck my palsied brain. Apart from that though, it wasn’t a total disaster. I didn’t dry up completely the way I have in a couple of lessons. It was bad but could have been worse. Oh and I also noticed I kept flapping my hands about and knocking the table, including a couple of times with my wedding ring. This wouldn’t have been so bad but the recording device was sitting on the table so I expect it’ll sound like there are shots being fired when someone gets around to listening. Peço imenso desculpe senhor(a)!

Then we moved onto a dialogue between the two of us on the subject of emigration. We had had a few minutes to prepare and we agreed a protocol whereby we would finish by asking “concordes?”. We didn’t stick to it very closely in the heat of the moment but it seems like a good idea because it prevented any accidental interruptions that might break the other person’s concentration. I feel like I did pretty well in this section. I spoke fluently in the introduction, spoke a little bit about my wife’s reasons for coming to the UK and about refugees who have no choice but to leave the country. We ran out of conversation with still about three minutes left and there was an awkward moment in which all three of us were looking around wondering what to say next. Now, if I had been an amiable guffin in a Wodehouse comedy, I would have proposed marriage to one of them just to fill the gap in conversation, but fortunately for all concerned I… Oh God, I did something even worse… I mentioned Brexit.

Minefield anyone?

It went pretty well though. I just mentioned that there had been a debate around free movement and that the results would cause many problems for people like us who lived abroad or (in my case) had married someone from sunnier climes. That filled the conversation nicely and I was able to get in a crack about not speaking to a family member who had voted for this bollocks. TBH we are still on speaking terms so it was a lie, but it got a laugh and I think that helps!


So did I pass? Well, to be honest I’m not sure, and I don’t suppose they’ll tell me anytime soon of last time is anything to go by! Last time I did well in  two sections and so-so in the other two. This time I think I did well in three and pretty badly in one. I hope that averaging it all out, I’ll get by but if I fail I won’t be very surprised.

I’m already thinking ahead to the C1 (advanced) exam a year from now, and if I have to re-sit the B2 in May it will be a pain in the bum but not the end of the world. I’m still a bit disconcerted at how slowly I am acquiring new words and skills in spite of huge amounts of study, but I think that’s just the effect of 47 years of neglect and booze on my poor old brain so probably can’t be helped. The C1 exam seems to be longer and more tightly controlled. For example, the conversation portion of the exam isn’t just recorded in audio but filmed all the way through. Scary! Well, we’ll see.

I’m really looking forward to reading some books in English now. My TBR pile is groaning with gorgeous unread novels, so I’ll relax a little but for a while but I can’t afford to take a few weeks off like last time. I’ve got the wheelie up and I need to just keep riding my bike around the playground.

Posted in English

One Day To Go

What is it with Portuguese Compreensão de Oral recordings? Does nobody in that country ever not have a headcold? Can they ever just turn the radio/drill/washing machine off and step out of the wind tunnel before they start speaking? Cheeses!

Posted in Portuguese

Declarações Aleatórias Sobre o Livro “Matadouro Cinco” de Kurt Vonnegut

tralfamadoreanPara praticar a gramática de B2 PT-PT (tempos verbais conjuntivos e situações que são *quase* conjuntivas com asterisco)

Acho que este livro é o melhor do Kurt Vonnegut *
Não acho que exista um livro melhor dele.
Há quem digam que “Bluebeard” é melhor mas são loucos.
Quer concordes quer não, é um dos melhores livros americanos desde sempre.
É possível que seja considerado um clássico
É curto e portanto é possível lê-lo num dia. *
Oxalá que não o escritor não morresse.
Os Tralfamadoreans levaram o Billy a uma jardim zoológico que fica no seu planeta.
O Billy tinha visitado o jardim zoológico de Ilium que fica no seu próprio planeta. *
Colocaram o Billy numa gaiola com a Montana e disseram-lhes “façam o que fizerem, não não conseguirão fugir”
“Vocês são prisioneiros mas aqui na gaiola podem fazer o que quiserem”
Trataram o Billy e a Montana como se fossem animais de estimação.
Se pudessem fugir, teriam fugido.
Uma guarda avisou-os: “sugiro que não se preocupem porque podemos ver o passado e o futuro, e sabemos que nunca termina. Este momento é, foi, e será para a eternidade”

Billy pensou “Logo que volte à minha terra, vou buscar a minha mulher. Mas tenho dúvidas que veja a minha terra mais uma vez”
“Estou desligado no tempo” disse Billy “Faço viagens ao passado e ao futuro. E sempre que regressar à destruição do Dresden vou ouvir as canções dos pássaros”
O Billy está a fazer o seu discurso, ao fim de que seja atirado por o seu inimigo.
Sabe que isto acontecerá mas também sabem que não é possível evitá-lo *

Posted in Portuguese

O Email

Caro Joaquim,
Muito obrigado pelo seu e-mail! Que surpresa! Dá-me muito prazer de ouvir que tenhas tanta confiança em mim! Os cinco anos que passei neste escritório têm sido os mais feliz da minha vida profissional e sem dúvida depois de mudar de casa vou ter saudades da minha actual vida. A amizade das minhas colegas e o apoio que recebi seria prémio suficiente para mim mas… Uau! A sua oferta deixou-me boquiaberta! Mas aceito com mil graças!
Como sabe, adoro o pais de Portugal. Como sabe também, tenho medo de voar mas tenho vontade de visitar a terra da minha mulher, a Ilha da Madeira. Acho que há muitos cruzeiros que passam por lá. Para mim, isto parece a oportunidade perfeita de visitar uma ilha bonita sem o terror de estar acima das nuvens! Que pena que depois dos incêndios no verão passado, a bonita cidade do Funchal estará num estado tão lamentável.
Obrigada mais uma vez!
Os melhores cumprimentos

Posted in Portuguese

A Televisão

“A televisão devia ter apenas programas que contribuíssem para a formação dos telespectadores”

O escrito que se segue é um texto baseado num exercício do B2 PT-PT exame. Desculpem, brasileiros mas lamento que neste caso vocês não me possam ajudar!

Não concordo com isto. Parece estrito de mais. Na minha opinião, de forma geral a televisão tem duas funções: informar e entreter. Não há razão nenhuma para que alguém não deva de ver alguma coisa divertida e não enriquecedora depois dum dia de trabalho. Contudo, sem dúvida, a televisão é um método importante de nos informar com notícias e partilhar opiniões e informações. Há quem digam que os donos das empresas de média interessam-se em apresentar as notícias numa forma que faz mudar as opiniões do povo. Estas pessoas, dizem que a televisão e os jornais têm poder de mais e até certo ponto isto é verdade. Estas mesmas pessoas que criticam o poder da média preferem obter informações através da Internet. Mas a eleição americana mostrou além de qualquer dúvida, que a Internet é cheia de mentiras. Éticas jornalísticas lá nem sequer se aplicam e apesar de ser composta pelas vozes do povo, está sujeita à influencia de partidos poderosos.

Posted in English

Bricking It 

Only two days till the exam and I have to admit I am not at all confident. I feel like knowledge is leaking from my head and my fluency level is declining sharply. In lessons I trip over my tongue, grope for easy words, lapse into English at the first sign of trouble. It’s a bloodbath. And yet my written Portuguese is OK. I really need to do something radical in the next two days. I’m thinking of taking the Wednesday off, painting the Portuguese flag on my chest and walking around the house naked reciting Os Lusíadas. 

Wish me luck. 

Posted in English

Let It Be Now

Time is ticking down to the B2 exam in T minus 4 days but I fancied a break from full-on learning so here’s a translation of another song by my favourite Portuguese band, Deolinda. I was really chuffed, on listening to it the other day, to realise it has an expressão idiomática in it that I recognise from the Practice Portuguese Podcast (in this episode). The phrase is “o que tem de ser tem muita força” (marked with *** below) and it means “What has to be has a lot of force”, or more colloquially “You gotta do what you gotta do”.
It also has some fun grammar in it including the contrast between “haver de” (means “to have to” but in a vague, non-specific way as in “you have to come and visit sometime” or “I really have to fix that broken clock” and “ter de” which is much more specific, signifying inevitability or obligation: “I have to do my homework” or “You have to put clothes on, sir, you can’t come to church naked”.
There are some good subjunctives to, most obviously in the title – “Seja Agora” being expression of hope – something like “let it be now”.

Nós havemos de nos ver os dois
We have to see each other
ver no que isto dá
to see what happens
ficar um pouco mais a conversar
stay a while and talk
Ter a eternidade para nós
We have eternity to ourselves
Quem sabe, jantar
Who knows, maybe have dinner…
Se quiseres pode ser hoje
If you want, it could be today.

Tem de acontecer, porque tem de ser
It has to happen because it has to be
e o que tem de ser tem muita força***
and what has to be has a lot of force
E sei que vai ser, porque tem de ser
And I know it’s going to happen because it has to be
Se é pra acontecer, pois que seja agora
And if it’s going to happen, let it be now!

Nós havemos ambos de encontrar
We both need to find
um destino qualquer
some kind of destiny
ou um banquinho bom para sentar
or a little bench to sit on
Vai ser tão bonito descobrir
It’s going to be so beautiful to discover
que no futuro só
that in future the only thing
quem decide é a vontade
that will decide is our own will

Tem de acontecer, porque tem de ser
It has to happen because it has to be
e o que tem de ser tem muita força***
and what has to be has a lot of force
E sei que vai ser, porque tem de ser
And I know it’s going to happen because it has to be
Se é pra acontecer, pois que seja agora
And if it’s going to happen, let it be now!


Que seja agora
Let it happen now
Que seja agora
Let it happen now
Se é pra acontecer
If it’s going to happen
Pois que seja agora
Well, let it happen now


Posted in Portuguese

A Carta

Londres 18 de Novembro de 2016

Donald Trump
Trump Tower
New Trumptown
United States of Trumpica

Excelentíssimo Senhor
Ora, ouvi nas notícias que o senhor será o próximo presidente dos Estados Unidos da America. Suponho que devo de lhe dar os parabéns, apesar de ter reservas fortes sobre a sua adequação para ser presidente ou até mesmo utilizar uma caneta. Infelizmente, esta folha não é suficientemente grande. Peço imensa desculpa.
Em vez de parabéns, deixe-me pedir-lhe que me dê um cargo no seu gabinete. Em contraste com o seu chefe de protecção do ambiente, eu entendo o aquecimento global. Em contraste com o seu secretário para a educação, tenho uma educação, e em contraste com o seu estratega, não sou um grande racista*.
Mas apesar destes impedimentos, acredito que seria um membro da sua equipa. Tenho sido eleito como deputado inglês tantas vezes como o Nigel Farage e isto facto deve de contar para qualquer coisa, não é?
Prometo que não sou um espião, mandado pela Rainha do Reino Unido para assassiná-lo e restabelecer os Estados Unidos como membro do Império Britânico porque a experiência com a democracia falhou. Quem? Eu? Não, não.

Espero receber a sua resposta rapidamente.
Os melhores trumprimentos

PS como pode ver, eu tenho todas as melhores palavras.

*=escrevi “gigante maligno racista” tradução de “huge evil racist” (racista=nome, gigante e maligno = adjectivos) mas infelizmente the need for Good Portuguese outweighed my love of Fine Phrases, and my marker didn’t like the double adjectives hovering around a noun that is – let’s face it – another adjective with ideas above its station.