Posted in English

Supergigante – Ana Pessoa

A review of the book I’ve been reading. Thanks to Dani Morgenstern for the corrections.

Acabo de fechar a capa deste livro juvenil. É um livro daqueles que não tem um enredo muito bem definido mas está cheia de emoção. O narrador é um adolescente cujo avô faleceu recentemente. O rapaz, que se chama Edgar (também conhecido pela alcunha* “Rígel”) está a correr e a pensar. O livro é um registo dos seus pensamentos. Afirma que o dia em questão era simultaneamente o pior e o melhor dia da sua vida. O pior porque o seu avô desapareceu pela chaminé do crematório acima** e o melhor porque a Joana (irmã do seu amigo Júlio) beijou-o. Os sentimentos saltam na sua cabeça, tornando cada vez maior e o próprio Edgar sente-se maior. É o Rígel, uma estrela, uma supergigante azul, 18 vezes maior e milhares de vezes mais brilhante do que o sol. A corrida ajudá-lo a fazer sentido dos seus pensamentos até ao final quando está capaz de falar sinceramente com a Joana.

A. Capa de Supergigante de Ana Pessoa
Supergigante de Ana Pessoa

* I originally used “apelido” here, since that’s the translation gtranslate gives for nickname. At the time I thought this was weird since apelido also means surname. Sure enough, the person marking the work was confused and said Alcunha was the better choice. Apelido is only used that way in Brazil, it seems.

** pela chaminé acima =up the chimney

Posted in Portuguese

Prazer, Camaradas

Quite a long text, this. I split my review up over three days. Thanks to Dani Morgenstern for the corrections. I’ve put quite a few footnotes at the bottom where the mistakes were interesting enough to warrant it.

As you’ll see in the text, I had quite a bit of trouble getting hold of a copy due to the only online supplier, FNAC, refusing to guarantee delivery due to the supply chain mess we have referendummed ourselves into, so if you’re in the UK and interested in this, you might have to wait a while.

Tive oportunidade de ver este filme num festival de cinema português há dois anos mas estava doente. Logo depois, chegou a covid e a estreia do filme foi andou adiada*. Finalmente, quando reabriram as lojas online, havia problemas com as encomendas internacionais nesta ilha parva.
Enfim, depois de tantos obstáculos, a minha sobrinha (que é muito simpática) entregou-me uma cópia** depois de fazer férias na Madeira.
Tenho tantas coisas para dizer! Mas não quero sobrecarregar as professores, portanto irei escrever mais amanhã e provavelmente fico com alguns pormenores até o dia a seguir***!

O filme que mencionei ontem conta a história de um grupo de estrangeiros que chegam a**** Portugal em 1975 para participar na criação de uma melhor sociedade depois da queda do Estado Novo. São marxistas e passam o verão numa quinta cooperativa. Os protagonistas apresentam-se no início do filme. “O meu nome é Mick e tenho 18 anos” diz um idoso de sessenta e tal anos, e os outros também se declaram “jovens” de grande idade. Fiquei curioso, mas acontece que os realizadores tomaram a decisão de usar habitantes da aldeia, agricultores das cooperativas e até uns estrangeiros que realmente fizeram a peregrinação ao centro da ação pós-revolucionária. Portanto, cada pessoa na tela tinha cabelos cinzentos mas protagoniza a um jovem radical e idealista*****. Além disso, utilizam iPhones e não há tentativa nenhuma de recriar o mundo dos anos setenta. É uma ideia gira, com resultados mistos. Mas vou escrever mais amanhã!

A filme tenta esboçar as atitudes dos portugueses e dos estrangeiros e das****** pessoas de diversas gerações em relação ao sexo*******. Naquela época, a Europa estava em plena revolução sexual mas Portugal tinha sido reprimido por um governo conservador e por uma igreja que andava de mãos dadas. Os estrangeiros trabalham nos campos (mesmo que sejam fracas, comparados com os camponeses) e trazem com eles a cultura da igualdade dos géneros e do amor livre.
Às vezes, este contraste entre culturas é iluminador ou até engraçado, sobretudo quando o idealismo dos jovens faz parte do diálogo. Por exemplo, há uma cena em que três estrangeiras aparecem num sonho dum jovem marxista (um jovem com barba grisalha!) Afagam os seus próprios seios ao tentar seduzi-lo.
“Fumo, Pedro, não só em casa mas na rua e no mercado também.”
“Não há melhor método de mudar as relações de produção do que beijar em público e fazer muito amor”.
Infelizmente, há cenas um bocado menos efecazes e até embaraçosas, mas isso não me importa muito. Adorei o filme e fico contente por tê-lo visto.

*adiado (delayed) not atrasado (late)

**I used the word “exemplar” which is the word I usually use for a copy of a book but although not fully wrong, “cópia” was given as a suggested improvement in the context of a film.

*** O dia a seguir (the day to come) not o dia depois (the day after)

****They arrive “a Portugal” not “em Portugal”. A good example of an unexpected preposition change between languages. We would definitely arrive in Portugal, not at it.

*****I started off translating, in my head “each one… Had grey hair but they portrayed…”. But in Portuguese you don’t tend to use the “they”, so this shift from singular to plural in the same sentence doesn’t really work, and my “protagonizavam jovens radicais…” got switched to “protagonizava um jovem radical…”.

****** I keep making this mistake. In English we would say “of the Portuguese and the foreigners but in Portuguese it has to be” of the Portuguese and of the foreigners.

******* it would sound weirdly formal in English but the “em relação” is necessary here.

Posted in English

Updated the Graphic Novels Page

I updated the list of portuguese graphic novel recommendations. I keep seeing peeps on social media asking for decent easy reads, and I find it’s helpful to have a list I can point to. It’s almost twice as long now!

If you look over there on the right 👉 on a laptop or down on a phone 👇 you’ll see there are a few of these resources pages now, covering learning resources and so on.

Photo by Svilen Milev from FreeImages
Posted in English

Some More Expressions

Here are a few expressions gleaned from the C1 book

Em casa de ferreiro, espeto de pau (In The blacksmith’s house, the skewers are made of wood) People who have skills they use in work don’t use them for their own benefit.

Cada cabeça sua sentença – everyone has their own opinion

Nem tudo o que luz é ouro – all that glimmers is not gold. Easy one, this. The only thing that grabbed my interest was that “luz”. I’d only ever come across this word as a noun so I had a hard time choosing it as an option in the exercise, but it’s actually part of the verb “luzir” in this context.

Quem canta, seus males espanta – is another that threw me since it sounds like it’s saying “whoever sings will shock you with their evil deeds” which is probably right for Michael Jackson, but “espanta” can also mean scare something away or chase it away, and “males” can be a person’s woes or troubles, not actual evils, so it just means if you sing a song you’ll chase your blues away. OK, cool.

Zangam-se as comadres, descobrem-se as verdades – When the godmothers start arguing, the truth will come out. In other words, when people start getting heated they tend to say things they would normally keep to themselves

Ladrão

O ocasio faz o ladrao – the opportunity makes the thief. This seems to be used slightly differently. If you look around various sites, some people take it as meaning that a person driven by circumstances might steal but isn’t to be regarded as a born thief; others take it as more like “if you don’t take care of your stuff someone is bound to nick it”. A middle way seems to be “People might be tempted to steal if there isn’t a strong motivation for them not to”. That seems to be how this guy interprets it anyway,and he mentioned a reference by Machado de Assis who says “Não é a ocasião que faz o ladrão, o provérbio está errado. A forma exata deve ser esta: a ocasião faz o furto; o ladrão já nasce feito”.

It’s definitely a pessimistic expression, anyway!

Em águas de bacalhau – I keep seeing this one and forgetting what it means. Apparently it comes from the fact that cod fishing used to be very dangerous, back in the day, and you were quite likely not to come back from a fishing trip if you went off to the cod fishing waters. So if something “deu/ficou/continuou em águas de bacalhau” then basically it came to nothing and had no result.

Trazer água no bico – bring water in your beak – do or say something sneaky or with a hidden agenda

Dar água pela barba – Give water in the beard (“sweat through the beard, I guess?) If something dá água [pela barba, it’s something very complex and challenging

Here are a few that are easier, because they’re equivalent to english expressions

Fazer crescer água na boca – to make the mouth water

Como peixinho na água – like a fish to water

Enquanto há vida há esperança – where there’s life there’s hope

Em terra de cegos quem tem olho é rei – in the land of the bline, the one-eyed man is king

Cao que ladra nao morde – his bark is worse than his bite (lit “A dog that barks doesn;t bite”)

Quem semeia ventos, colhe tempestades – sow the breeze, reap the whirlwind

Posted in English

C1 Expressions

I hit an exercise that had quite a lot of expressions I hadn’t heard before

Um amigo de Peniche – comes from a British action during the succession crisis of the 1580s. Nine years after the Spanish seized the portuguese crown, a force led by Francis Drake landed near Peniche ostensibly to restore the crown to Dom António, Prior do Crato, but really to prevent the Spanish launching another armada and, in the process, also doing quite a lot of looting and attempting to seize the Açores to sever the route if the Spanish silver trade. So an Amigo de Peniche is a friend who is only really looking out for what they can get out of the friendship and doesn’t really give much in return. Apparently people from Peniche are self-conscious about being associated with treachery and never miss an opportunity to tell you the true origin.

Please stop blaming Peniche for stuff England did
Peniche Truther
Drake, as far as we know, has never tried to invade Portugal
You used to call me on my cellphone, to help restore you to the throne

Um unhas de fome – a grasping, tight fisted person

Um atraso de vida – a harmful or annoying life problem

Um amostra de gente – a very small person

Um mãos-largas – a very generous person. Note that here (and in a couple of other expressions, the article “um” doesn’t seem to match the noun. That’s because this is a description of a person, and the default is singular and masculine, even if they are described as having wide hands – mãos largas – feminine and plural.

Um bom garfo – a gourmet

Um cabeça de alho chocho – if you are an old shriveled garlic head, you’re a forgetful, absent minded person.

Um bota de elástico – someone who dresses, acts, or thinks in an old-fashioned way

Posted in Portuguese

Uma Carta de Reclamação

Writing letters of complaint is a popular exam exercise. I’ve pinched a couple of phrases from a C1-level example, highlighted in the text

                    Londres, 5 de Outubro 2021

Assunto: Apagão* do site

Exmo Sr Zuckerberg

Venho por este meio*” apresentar uma reclamação relativa ao assunto em epígrafe***. Ontem, tentei entrar no seu site, Facebook, para ver memes sobre gatinhos mas o site estava em baixo. Ao falhar desta tentativa, dirigi-me ao Instagram mas isto também não deu êxito. Fui forçado a falar com a minha própria família e a ouvir as opiniões da minha esposa e da minha filha sobre o Squid Game.
Fiquei com marcas mentais que provavelmente nunca se curarão.
Devido a esta situação, gostaria de ser ressarcido pelo honorário do meu psicanalista e uma indemnização por danos causados. 2 biliões de dólares deverão ser suficiente.
Sem outro assunto de momento e aguardando uma resposta da vossa parte****
Com os melhores cumprimentos
_________

* “Apagão” “em baixo” are phrases I pinched from recent news articles but I don’t think the terminology is very fixed. The marker changed the latter to “tinha ido abaixo” But I’ve left it as it was since I guess the Jornal de Notícias has its reasons.

**This phrase is something like “I hereby”. Super-formal, obviously.

***This is referring to the title line so only works if you’ve written a subject at the top of the letter

****More formal boilerplate – Not having anything further to say and awaiting a reply in your part.

Zuckerberg reacting to a letter of complaint
The recipient reacts to my complaint letter

My wife tells me people really do write in this sort of formal style. Probably not about cat photos, but still…

Posted in English, Portuguese

Segue o Teu Destino

Translating one of the poems I’ve been learning. It’s by Ricardo Reis, one of Pessoa’s Hetronyms. I found it a bit inspiration-postery at first but it’s really grown on me, especially the last two lines of the first verse and the last two lines of the last:

Portuguese versionTranslation
Segue o teu destino.
Rega as tuas plantas.
Ama as tuas rosas.
O resto é a sombra
De Arvores alheias.
Follow your destiny
Water your plants
Love your roses
The rest is just the shadow
Of other people’s trees
A realidade
Sempre é mais ou menos
Do que nós queremos.
Só nós somos sempre
Iguais a nós próprios.
Reality
Is always more or less
Than we want
We alone are always
Equal to ourselves
Suave é viver.
Grande e nobre é sempre
Viver simplesmente.
Deixa a dor nas aras
Como ex-voto aos deuses.
It’s easy to live
It’s great and noble always
To live simply
Leave pain on the altar
Like a votive offering to the gods
Vê de longe a vida.
Nunca interrogues.
Ela nada podes
Dizer-te. A resposta
Está além dos deuses.
Look at life from afar
Never question it
It can’t tell you
Anything. The answer
Is beyond the gods
Mas serenamente
Imito o Olimpo
No teu coração.
Os deuses são deuses
Porque não se pensam.
But serenely
Imitate Olympus
In your heart
The gods are gods
Because they never think of themselves
Posted in English

Not Like That, Like That

Here’s another one of those posts where I find some weird thing in a book and I bring it to the blog and drop it on the doormat like a cat with a mouse. Check out this rodent corpse:

“Inspiras assim e expiras assado”

The first bit is easy: “You breathe on like this” but what’s with “Assado”? Assado means “roasted”. But according to Priberam, “assim e assado” is an expression meaning “like this and like that”. So breathe in like this and breathe out like that.

Posted in English, Portuguese

Robert Dinheiro’s Waiting, Talking Portuguese

I’ve been looking at words related to money and I’ve put together some short paragraphs that use them in context

This has absolutely nothing to do with the text, I just like puns, OK?

Os meus vizinhos oferecem alvíssaras (a reward) a quem forneça informações sobre o seu cão que desapareceu no domingo passado.

O governo já aumentou os impostos (taxes) apesar de ter prometido não agravar a carga fiscal (tax burden).

O meu contabilista (accountant) pratica honorários (professional fee) muito altos mas vale a pena

Além da propina (tuition fee) que pagava à universidade tinha de pagar uma joia (subscription fee) ao clube Marxista e manter a minha quota (periodic membership fee) em dia. Caso contrário, eu ficaria “cancelado”.

O meu avô recebe dividendos (dividends – not a hard one to guess, that!) modestos* cada ano em resultado dos seus investimentos (investments – another easy one!) . Comprou um por cento das ações (stocks. I’ve seen “títulos” and “papéis” used in this context. See here for example) duma empresa chamada “Apple” em 1978 e os lucros (profits) do seu capital cobrem as despesas (expenses) da sua humilde mansão numa pequena ilha privada no mar das Caraíbas.

A minha filha ganha (earns) bem com o seu serviço de ama mas vive connosco sem pagar renda (rent free: renda can also mean “income” in other contexts as well as rent). É rica. Penso em pedir-lhe um empréstimo (loan) mas a taxa (rate) de juros (interest) que ela aplica é bastante alta.

Depois de receber uma indemnização (compensation) do meu empregador, fui ao banco fazer um depósito (deposit, obviously) e depois à tasca praticar o levantamento do copo.

*This useage of “modesto” to describe something as small and unshowy, is not actually given in the dictionary but seems to be used as in English alongside the more normal use of modest to mean a person who is not boastful.

Posted in English

Not-So-Super Nova

I mentioned a couple of days ago that was a minor kerfuffle about the teacher on my Portuguese history course.

A History of Europe by Raquel Varela

It seems there’s was more to it than I thought. Some of her scholarship students have complained about her having abused power, apparently, and in one case even claimed she had plagiarised a big chunk of one of her books from a student essay. Blimey!

I don’t know what to make of this, and I’ll tell you why my cluelessness is interesting: when I’m online in my normal guise, reading about scandals in English speaking countries, I tend to have a pretty good idea of who is where on a sort of graph where one of the axes is ideology (where they are likely to come down in an argument between different points of view) and the other is honesty (whether they are prepared to bend the facts to fit their narrative, whether they fight dirty. Crucially, I can usually spot sarcasm, shitposting , spiteful ess and attention-seeking when some British ideologue (Owen Jones say) or American (Candace Owens, maybe) is doing what they do, but I am absolutely unable to read it in most Portuguese tweets. Unless people are very obvious, I dint really know what’s fake and what’s real. This one seems reputable but really, I’m a hopeless naive and maybe he’s a well-known partisan hack, shilling for some very Conservative paper that has targeted her for her opinions.

And I suppose its worth pausing at this point and asking who we trust online and why? I know there are a lot of sources I’d basically trust all the way. Like the BBC. They aren’t always right but they’re always trying. They’re not Fox News or Infowars and I trust their basic integrity as a source of facts. But there are other sources I’ve sort of grown to trust over the years but how well do I really know them? Are they just the people who have told me what I want to hear for so long that I’ve become blind to their biases? Yeah and not just me, reader. What about you, eh? I’m waving my finger at you as I type this. What about you, eh? How sure are you that the people in your social media feed are trustworthy?