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O Dialecto Madeirense

This video was published on Twitter on Thursday (O Dia Mundial Da Língua Portuguesa). The first speaker is Francisco Louçã, an MP (“Deputado”) from the Bloco Esquerda and he’s introducing a PSD colleague named Carlos Rodrigues, saying he will now address the chamber in his “Madeiran Dialect”. Rodrigues then replies in a way everyone thinks is hilarious…

I can’t understand what he’s saying so I cheated and looked at the parliamentary transcript which is here, and you can read the surrounding context about the dialect (it’s not a dialect really, it’s an accent – mainlanders can be a bit snobbish about it though). Anyway, after reading the transcript… I was none the wiser!

Louçã: – Sr. Presidente, para surpresa da minha bancada, acaba de ser-nos comunicado que um Sr. Deputado passará a dirigir-se ao Plenário no “dialecto” madeirense. (…)

Rodrigues: – Quanto a dialecto, só tenho uma coisa a dizer-lhe, Sr. Deputado Francisco Louçã – e agora, mesmo em jeito de brincadeira: “o grado azoigou e foi atupido na manta das tanarifas”!

Grado exists in Priberam but none of the meanings seem to fit. Azoigar is in there too (although the spelling is “azougar”, because it’s one of those words that can be written with an ou or an oi) and now we’re starting to see the pattern because the definition is

[Portugal: Madeira]  Morrer (falando-se de animais).

Ah, if course – he’s replying using a madeiran expression, full of madeiran words. So, turning to a specialist madeiran page… We get the following

The dog (grado) died (azoigou) and was buried (atupido) on the pumpkin (tanarifa) terrace (manta).

Tanarifa is the sketchiest word there. The meaning is given as “boganga”, which, if you follow it, actually refers to a kind of squash/pumpkin. I’ve also seen people translating it as “alface” (lettuce) but most people seem to translate it as banana. So… I dunno… Conjure up whatever mental image you like on that one! I’ve translated manta (which normally means “shawl” or “blanket”) as terrace because in madeiran agriculture, a manta is a terrace on the side of a mountain where you can grow crops.

So… That’s all very well but what does it actually mean? Not sure. I thought maybe it was like “Os cães ladram e a caravana passa”. In other words, your yapping doesn’t really count for much. My wife, who is madeiran but hasn’t lived there for ages, didn’t recognise it either but thought it was more likely that the speaker is comparing his opponent’s argument to a dog in a race which he’s very proud of and thinks will win the race but it won’t because it’s dead and buried in the vegetable patch.


Just a data nerd

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