Posted in English

Divided by a Common Language

I wrote something the other day that included the word “ficámos” as a past tense of ficar, meaning “we stayed”, and a Brazilian guy has told me it should be ‘ficamos”. I’ve told him that I am pretty sure this is one of those differnces between PT-PT and PT-BR: Portugal uses an -ámos ending in the past perfect, but in Brazil -amos is used for both present and perfect (lol, no scope for confusion there!) but he’s insisting that no, his way is correct. I feel a little arrogant contradicting someone whose native language is portuguese but I’m pretty sure I’m right on this one so I’m just ignoring the bloke and carrying on regardless.

Priberam (portuguese) on the left vs conjugaçã (brazilian) on the right

As I mentioned a few months ago in my comparison of the two types of Portuguese, Brazil has a larger media and a more powerful cultural impact in the world so they don’t always notice the smaller group of people speaking the European variant across the atlantic. The same is true of the US media hegemony co-opting English. There’s no use complaining (*pauses to wipe away bitter British tears*), it just is what it is. So if you’re asking someone for advice or corrections, it’s best to say what variant you’re learning to avoid misunderstandings, but if someone tries to help and gets it wrong (like this bloke is doing, I think) you have to be sensitive in how you reply. Anyone who honestly tries to help someone online is a good person. If they get it wrong from time to time, that doesn’t make them bad: a gentle reminder should sort things out with no hurt feelings. I used to have a portuguese friend who would absolutely lay into Brazilian teachers who corrected European portuguese learners but I think she was being unreasonable and I’d always try to calm her down because it made me cringe to think that someone had tried to help me and was getting a verbal battering for their troubles. I definitely don’t want to do that, but I’m going to politely suggest that I think he’s mistaken!


Just a data nerd

2 thoughts on “Divided by a Common Language

  1. Pingback: Paris – Luso

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