Posted in English

It’s Satire Innit

There’s a politician in Portugal called André Ventura who’s the leader of a “party” called CHEGA. The fact that CHEGA sounds a lot like MAGA is probably not a coincidence since he’s a populist: someone who builds a following by telling one section of society that they are the real, the deserving people, that everyone poorer than them is a dirty sponge and everyone richer than them is corrupt and anyone who has read a book is an elitist. Oh and he talks a lot of shit on Twitter too, like old whatsisname.

I’ve come across a few twitter accounts sending him up, like this one above. It appeals to me because I like puns. André Ventura = Aldrabé Ventrulha.

I think the pun in the first name is based on Aldrabão which is a sort of crooked person or con artist

1. [Informal]  Que ou quem diz ou faz coisas com intuito de enganar. = BURLÃO, IMPOSTOR, INTRUJÃO, TRAPACEIRO

2. [Informal] Que ou quem fala de modo confuso.

3. [Informal] Que ou quem não é limpo ou perfeito no que faz.


"Aldrabão", in Dicionário Priberam da Língua Portuguesa [em linha], 2008-2021, https://dicionario.priberam.org/Aldrab%C3%A3o [consultado em 22-09-2021].

And in the second, it seems to be Entulha – 3rd person singular of Entulhar, meaning basically throw it in the junk pile or dispose of it in some way. It seems mostly to be used for either olive pits or builder’s rubble. Why do those two things go together? I’ve no idea.

en·tu·lhar - Conjugar
(en- + tulha + -ar)
verbo transitivo
1. Meter ou dispor em tulha.

2. Encher de entulho.


"entulha", in Dicionário Priberam da Língua Portuguesa [em linha], 2008-2021, https://dicionario.priberam.org/entulha [consultado em 22-09-2021].

Anyway, I think the general idea seems to be that he’s a crook who needs to be on the scrapheap.

I’m not sure how seriously to take Ventura. He somehow got eleven percent in January’s presidential elections and came third, so he can’t be written off entirely. But that still leaves forty percent of a country to convince and I think they’d take some convincing. Pictures I’ve seen from the campaign trail in the local council elections show some pretty underwhelming gatherings, not Trump style rallies. He doesn’t seem well-enough organised to be a serious threat. More of an Iberian Tommy Robinson than a new Salazar – but maybe that’s just my perception from my distance. He does seem to be a racist douchebag, and he’s been fined for saying some things that were out of line. I’ve also heard that he did time, maybe for fraud, but I can’t find a source for that so maybe it’s just a rumour.

There have even been calls to ban CHEGA itself as a racist organisation. As a general rule of thumb, I’m not in favour of banning organisations unless they are actively advocating or engaging in violence, not just talking shit. It only makes them look like martyrs and the authorities look like repressive, censorious dictators. Why give them that martyr status? Even the “oh isn’t he awful” hand-wringing stance with which the BBC treated Nigel Farage, another clueless, sloppy populist with racist leanings – fanned the flame of his appeal to the point at which he was able to knock us out of the EU. So it’s best not to build them up too much, even by showing disapproval. Better to give them the same arms-length treatment as other fringe parties like the Greens and Plaid Cymru and let them make their own case under their own steam until they burn themselves out.

Anyway, all of the above is just my uninformed wittering. I’ll be finding out more over the next week or two, but in the meantime if anyone wants to correct any misconceptions in any of it, drop me a note in the comments 👇

Posted in English

Challenge of the Week

OK, I’m into the second week of my big push towards C1 proficiency in Portuguese. The Autárquicas (local council elections) are a few days away so I’m going to put a real effort into learning about Portuguese political parties this week, and trying to get my head around what’s at stake and who will be the likely winners and losers, and why.

There are a few podcasts dedicated to the Autárquicas, so I’ve subscribed to one by Antena 1 which seems the most up-to-date and one that’s specific to Viseu and features interviews with all the candidates in that area.

I won’t be limiting myself to the locals though, I’m going to try and get my head around the acronyms and the major players, mainly because I keep seeing their names come up on twitter and I don’t know what to make of the jokes, who is being sarcastic and who isn’t… It seems like something I need to understand properly.

Posted in English

Sir Isaac Neuter

I wrote this weeks ago but it’s been sitting in my drafts folder for ages

I had quite a response to the post a few days weeks ago about fringe issues of grammatical gender, It’s been helpful and interesting. It’s always interesting when I get corrections from Portuguese speakers of course, but these ones were even more interesting because it seemed like there were so many different takes on the subject so it was more like a debate and not just people telling me I’ve used the wrong tense or whatever. I must admit though that I wish I’d toned down my sense of humour. I think some of the tone came across as being a douchey anglophone who was criticising someone else’s grammar for being structurally sexist. Not my intention of course. I know english is weird in its own way (the spelling! Oh my god!) but this is a blog about learning portuguese so I’ll let someone else write about that.

Most languages have gender as a way of dividing nouns into different types of course. Portuguese inherited its system from Latin. We used to have it in english too but it faded hundreds of years ago. I pay a lot of attention to gender in portuguese, mostly because I find it so hard to remember the rules (see my post on gender & noun endings for example!). And, as a result of that attention, I often notice some of the more unusual aspects, and they grab my attention much more than the standard day-to-day words. That’s why I wrote the last article: It was as if I’d been looking for ladybirds and suddenly came across some weird, 24-legged purple creature with six wings hiding under a leaf. Suddenly, I’m emptying out my bug-jar to make room for it.

I’ve also had a lot of people replying specifically to the issue of gender as it relates to people (what the cool kids refer to as “gender identity”). I hadn’t really seen this as a key part of the post but again I didn’t really do myself with the choice of jokes. First of all, calling the piece “Neuter Kids on the Block” seemed like quite a good pun. Neuter is the name of a third gender in Latin that is neither masculine nor feminine so it seemed to fit with the story about the teacher. I’m not suggesting kids can be “neuter” of course. Mixing up grammatical gender and a person’s sex and/or the way they describe their gender is usually going to cause confusion. They’re not completely unrelated of course: some words will change the ending according to the person’s sex like médico/médica, professor/professora, but it’s best to keep them as two separate things in your head. Sorry. Wasn’t thinking.

I think the best way is to do this as a series of headings because the objections and corrections don’t really form a coherent whole.

What kinds of non-gender-specific pronouns are there?

Addressing mixed groups

In standard portuguese, if you are referring to any group of people using a pronoun then it needs to be “eles” (subject) or “os” (direct object) unless they are all women, in which case it’s “elas” and “as”. Indirect objects are the same for both: “-lhes”. When it comes to adjective endings, if they change at all, the rule is straightforward: if they are all female then you use “-as” but if there is one or more male it defaults to the masculine plural “-os”. That holds true even if the women outnumber the men by a million to one.

This is what I was referring to in the original post: it seems as though the tutor in my lesson was not satisfied with this situation and had changed it to an “e” ending in order to create a non-gender-specific (neuter) ending that isn’t part of standard portuguese because, I guess, she thinks masculine shouldn’t be the default. Nobody has suggested any alternative explanation so I am still pretty sure that’s what her intention was. A few people were quite skeptical of her approach though. For example, Reddit user Butt_Roidholds pointed out that in a lot of accents you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between an -e ending and an -o ending anyway. You can see this on some meme accounts like bilbiamtengarsada on Instagram, where they’ll write dialect spelling that sometimes has an e on place of the o, but they aren’t being woke, just mimicking an accent.

Addressing mixed sets of individuals.

This one is slightly different because you’re addressing individual readers, not treating them as a group. For example, sending out an email to multiple people. Again, in theory you should be able to treat them all as masculine endings, as if the masculine gender in Portuguese was applicable to everyone. I don’t think most people think this way though and you’ll usually see something like “caro/a leitor(a)” to take account of the fact that the person reading it might be male or female. It’s a bit like in English when you write “Dear sir/madam”

On the Internet, you might see this written using an @ sign. Like today a few weeks ago on Instagram, someone (I think it was Literacidades) posted a poll about people’s covid vaccination status and one of the options was “vacinad@” because the individual user could be vacinado or vacinada. I like this. It’s neat. You obviously can’t pronounce it in speech, and that makes it a problem for people with impaired vision who are browsing the internet using text-to-speech software, and that’s a shame because it seems like a tidy way to do it.

Addressing People Who Self-Describe as Non-Binary

OK, we’re into the controversial bit now. Don’t panic, we’re going to get through this. Probably. The focus of the post is meant to be language and how some speakers of portuguese are trying to change the way it’s used. I’m not setting out to talk about the underlying question of how the idea of gender is changing in society generally. Although I very definitely do have an opinion on that, this is a language blog so I’m not here to evaluate the truth claims of the various competing versions of gender theory or the various arguments for or against. If you want that, go on twitter and you’ll find someone who’ll be happy to fight you to the death in a cage. Just don’t tell them I sent you.

That said, it is just possible that you haven’t heard the term non-binary before, so I’ll need to give a little bit of background.

There’s been a trend in the last few years for people to identify as “non-binary”. In other words, they do not think of themselves as relating to traditional notions of masculine or feminine and therefore they don’t want to be described as a man or a woman. This is part of a wider trend towards people believing that what makes you a man or a woman (or neither) is not the body but some internal sense of yourself. This is explained in a variety of different ways, and people who want it to be normalised are trying to effect change, mainly to pronouns, in their own languages around the world through social media campaigns, the school curriculum, changes to the law and so on.

Zir Isaac Newton

Of course that process is much, much more complicated in romance langauges than it is in english. In english, people who identify as not having a gender often prefer to be referred to either by a “neo-pronoun” like “zi” or “zer” (full list here) or using plural pronouns “they” and “them” instead of the usual he/she/him/her. People may differ about whether they regard this as politeness or attention-seeking and to what extent they are willing to comply with it, but at least for us english speakers that’s really the extent of the change and you don’t need to worry about adjective endings or any of that malarkey.

Assuming you are interested in finding out how this works in portuguese (and I guess if you weren’t you would have rolled your eyes and skipped ahead to the next section by now) here’s the state of play as of July September 2021, but obviously if you’re reading this in 2025 it will probably all seem laughably outdated and you will be cancelled if you repeat any of it.

Basically…

  • There are four completely different sets of candidate pronouns that can be applied to non-binary individuals in portuguese. The most popular is “the Elu system”. It uses Elu/Elus for its third person subject pronouns and so on through “delu” and “aquelus” and so on. But there are also systems based on Ile, Ilu and El. The last one seems like one to avoid if you’re a foreigner since the last thing you want is for someone to think you’re trying to talk to them in spanish!
  • The equivalent definite articles are either ê/ês or le/les, depending on the system. Adjective endings go to either e or u, so you get sentences like “ê carlos é muito esperte“. Possessives change too of course: Tue or Tu instead of Teu and Tua for example.
  • I think it’s correct to say these neo-pronouns are neuter pronouns, grammatically speaking, even though people are not neuter. Neuter exists in grammar, not in human biology.
  • It’s possible to avoid the issue entirely by means of circumlocations like “aquela pessoa é muito bonita” because pessoa is a feminine word you can use a feminine adjective while avoiding a social faux-pas no matter who you are referring to. Similarly, “trabalha numa biblioteca” instead of “é bibliotecário/a” and “molhaste-te por causa da chuva” instead of “estás todo molhado/a”.
  • Avoid the “-x” ending popular among americans or the @ ending that I mentioned above. They’re impossible to pronounce and don’t work with screen readers.
  • Non-binary and inclusive language applies only to humans, not animals or things. As I mentioned in the last post, this obviously strikes us as odd since we think of all inanimate objects and even some animals as basically having no gender because no biological sex, but portuguese has genders for all nouns and (if these changes becaome accepted by a majority of people) humans would be the only nouns that can be referred to without gender!

This is all set out with a lot more detail in a manual of inlusive language here which will presumably be updated from time to time. The guy says right in the intro that the language is “unfortunately still very binary and sexist” which I think is not something I’d agree with, but it’s not my language so I’ll leave it to others to comment. The manual is brazilian, I think, but as with america and britain, it tends to be the larger, more noisy transatlantic country that sets the agenda for the smaller, quieter one.

Summary

All of the above sections are pretty controversial of course and different people had different takes on it. AndreMartins5979 said that a better way of looking at this is to think of the masculine gender in portuguese as being neuter. It’s only called “masculine” because the feminine exists. So, he argues, Portuguese should stop using feminine and be more like english and just use one ending for all adjectives. I think this is the only time I have seen a portuguese speaker express this opinion. I can see the attraction obviously, because I speak english and it’s a lot easier, but it runs up against the same problem all the other suggested changes have: how do you implement a change this drastic across all printed materials, all websites, all schools, all conversations in all portuguese speaking countries in a way that everyone can agree with?

Taking the Acordo Ortográfico as an example, it would be pretty difficult, to say the least!

Other users described these sorts of changes, even when they are less extreme than the one Andre suggested, as “ugly” and “inelegant” and an imposition from the anglosphere onto the lusosphere.

Paxona, who is brazilian, mentioned that in her state, gender neutral language had been banned in schools. I don’t know quite how to feel about this: the current brazilian president is… well, let’s just say “a divisive figure”. I can think of shorter ways to describe him, but that’ll do. It’s a state ruling though, not a federal law. Anyway, I’m not really sure what the motivation is behind this law. Generally, I’m not a fan of banning language. Language changes when people start using it differently, not when some central authority decrees it, but she pointed out that education is the duty of the state – and hence, schools are a form of central authority in their own communities. So, in a world where there are several conflicting theories of how pronouns should be used, it’s all in flux and it’s all very controversial, it’s probably right that the legislature attempt to exert some sort of stabilising influence, at least for the time being. Otherwise you have a lot of well-meaning teachers, all trying to impose their own preferred systems and their own pet theories on a bunch of kids whose parents all speak standard portuguese.

Why is Masculinity not Masculine?

My daughter has just looked over my shoulder and seen this headline and now thinks I am writing something very, very woke.

Part of the original post was about a book called “O Feminino e o Moderno” by Ana Luísa Vilela, Fábio Maria da Silva and Maria Lúcia Dal Farra. And I said “O Feminino” meant “Femininity”. As Paxona pointed out, that isn’t quite right though. It’s more like “the feminine”. It’s a noun that tends only to be used in academic or abstract settings. According to Priberam:

Conjunto de qualidades ou atributos considerados como pertencentes às mulheres (ex.: representações do feminino na pintura)”
“feminino”, in Dicionário Priberam da Língua Portuguesa [em linha], 2008-2021, https://dicionario.priberam.org/feminino [consultado em 03-07-2021].

So “O Masculino” and “O Feminino” are both masculine, and “A Masculinidade” and “A Feminilidade” are both feminine. So that’s er… totally clear then!

Why are Feminine Things Masculine?

I still find it really confusing when I need to describe something as masculine but the noun is a feminine noun.

So here’s a page about “Roupas Masculinas“. “Roupa” is a feminine word, so even though these specific clothes are designed for men, the adjective ends up being masculina, not masculino. It’s a masculine feminine thing. Thinking about this gives me a headache.

Likewise, here are some Acessorios Femininos.

The plot really thickens when you get to word like “Grávido” which means pregnant. As I said in the last post, the default form of the adjective is masculine even though males can never get pregnant. Now, I still think if I were a portuguese woman this would enrage me more than words can express but I seem to be alone in that view.

Reddit user Xavieryes points out three possible situations where you could legitimately use grávido in its masculine form:

  • A male seahorse can get pregnant. Like all male animals, daddy seahorses (seastallions???) produce small gametes that fertilise the larger female ones, but unlike most species, female seahorses pass their eggs over to the male and he carries the fertilised eggs until they are seafoals ready for their first seadressage.
  • There are also trans-men, ie biologically female humans who identify as socially masculine and often prefer to be known by male pronouns. They can become pregnant and could then also be said to be “grávido”.
  • Finally, a guy whose wife/girlfreind is pregnant might be said to be grávido, in a jokey way, either because he is very uxorious – like when english-speaking couples say “we’re pregnant”, or it might just be because he has a big beer belly

So that’s three exceptions that justify the word grávido as being default in the dictionary over grávida. and again, I know its just the rules of how the language works but… I still think if I were a portuguese woman I would be burning the world down because of this.

Well, I think that’s the best I can do. It’s not the easiest of subjects to write about clearly and I expect there will be people who disagree so feel free to tell me about it in the comments 👇

I have asked on the portuguese subreddit if it’s OK to quote the people named, but if anyone would rather I deleted their username, drop me a line and I’ll do that.

Posted in English

I’m Quite Pleased With This One

My Portuguese twitter account in action making terrible dad-jokes

The structure of the joke is borrowed from O Caderno Das Piadas Secas. It’s equivalent to the “What do you call a….” format in English. What I’m trying to say – and I’ve no idea if it works – is “4 militants killed in a shipwreck caused by a bazooka being fired by mistake. What’s the country?” and then the punchline is Afogarnistão (Afeganistão =Afghanistan obviously and afogar =drown)

Posted in English

Sara Tavares Educates Me About Spelling

I’ve been talking online lately about variant spellings, mainly in Brazil but also in other countries. I guess I was trying to pick out, from the vast soup of different spellings on twitter, which are brazilian, which are the result of fusion of portuguese and african languages and which are just street slang or just some sort of online abbreviations, memes and what-have-you, but I was listening to a specific Cape Verdean album and went down a rabbit-hole as a result.

So… I was going to try and write a post about the portuguese language in the “Palop” (Países Africanos de Língua Oficial Portuguesa) in general, but decided I wasn’t really clever enough or patient enough to do it justice. So by way of example, decided to just write about a couple of songs on the album instead because it’s good and worth listening to even without using an interest in etymology as an excuse.

Sara Tavares is a portuguese singer of Cape Verdean descent. Wait, wait, stop the paragraph because there’s a cool linguistic diversion right there: if you look her up on wikipedia you’ll see that the portuguese way of saying “descent” is “ascendência”, not “descendência”, like the two languages are looking at the family tree from opposite ends!

Anyway, she’s been active since the mid nineties and collaborated with a lot of portuguese artisits like Buraka Som Sistema, Da Weasel and Nelly Furtado, as well as recording a song for the portuguese version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. She’s won a load of awards and been nominated for a load more. A british music magazine called Taplas once said “If the sunlight had a sound, it would sound like the voice of Sara Tavares” which is a pretty great compliment.

Anyway, I’m happy to listen to her music even if I don’t understand it but I’d also quite like to understand it. Some of her songs are easier to understand than others though and there’s a reason for that.

Her latest album is called Fitxado which I think means Fechado (closed). The first song I heard from it was “Coisas Bunitas” – Coisas Bonitas (Nice Things)

Diz-me coisas bunitas 
Sussurradas ao ouvido com sabor 

Diz-me que a minha carapinha 
te faz lembrar uma coroa de rainha 

Tell me nice things, whispered in my ear with feeling. Tell me my hair looks like a queen’s crown. Why “Carapinha” for hair? It’s a specific word for thick, curly hair, particularly black people’s hair.

That’s all easy enough, but what about another of her songs, “Txom Bom”? No idea. What I think has happened is that she’s moved from portuguese to Cape Verdean Creole (Crioulo Cabo-Verdeano), which is rooted in portuguese but has become its own language. So… If Fitxado means Fechado then maybe that “TX” is equivalent to “CH” in other words too. Let’s look at the lyrics and see if there’s a clue:

Pe na txom, surrisu strela

“Pe na txom” = “pe na chom” = “pé na chão”? Foot on the floor? Well.. that makes sense. Chão is masculine so it would be no, not na in Portuguese but maybe that’s one of the areas where the two languages diverge?

And “surrisu strela” = sorriso estrela? star smile… hm… I can just believe that.

É pé na txom ki levanu fora 
É pé na txom ki levanu dentu
É pé na txom ki levanu lonji

“É um pé no chão que leva fora / É um pé no chão que leva dentro / É um pé no chão que leva longe”…? Plausible… That would make Txom Bom “Good Floor” which sounds surprising, but there’s a neighbourhood in Santiago in Cape Verde called Txom Bom, so maybe it’s like a good place, some good land… something like that… I don’t know. I should probably ask my wife who was born there but she was a baby when she left so I doubt she’d had time to pick up much of the local language. And I’m sort of content not to know; I like crosswords, and the idea that there’s a word puzzle waiting to be solved intrigues me so I’m happy to wait for the light to dawn.

The lyrics are written out here if you want to see the whole thing.

Posted in English

How It Started, How’s It Going

I must admit, when I started my master plan to level up my português proficiency to C1, I wondered if I was being too ambitious and… Well, to be honest, I still think that. It’s going OK so far though, as the optimist said as he fell past the twentieth floor. I’m two days in and I’m keeping it going:

I’ve done two rounds of exercises from A Actualidade em Português and got mainly right answers, plus a couple of things I need to learn from. I’ve also tweeted a few things in my new guise of Pedro Álvares Cabral, discoverer of Brasil, and managed to elicit my first “LOL” with this bad boy.

Still only one follower though, and even that looks like a bot. Early days.

I’ve also written two texts in r/WritestreakPT and read a chapter of a book and about quarter of a banda desenhada called BRK. I’m finding my Portuguese podcasts slightly hard work though. And oh god, I keep doing even more ridiculous things to challenge myself. Since I want to learn poems, i decided to make the first week’s a song, so I started teaching myself Flagrante by Antonio Zambujo on the ukulele but I am hopeless at the ukulele so it’s pretty painful. I’m also thinking of making some sort of politics wallchart that lays out who all the parties and office-holders are so I can understand some of the political tweets better.

Samsung Health in Portuguese - the picture shows the meal tracking screen

The most unexpectedly-helpful thing I’ve done has been tracking my fitness in Portuguese. As I’ve mentioned before, my phone is set to use Portuguese as its system language so most of the apps are in Portuguese too. I started tracking my food and exercise using Samsung Health because I’m too chubby, and I didn’t think I’d learn much because I felt like I knew the names of most foods already but wow, was I ever wrong! I’ve had to look up a ton of foods even in the short time I’ve had it: apricots (damascos), bean sprouts (broto de feijão), soy sauce (molho de soja) and raisins (uvas passas) were just today’s crop of additions to my word-hoard.

Posted in English

C1 Here I Come

I’ve been a bit slack on learning Portuguese lately. I’ve basically been treading water since I did the B2 diploma. In fact, since the pandemic started, I’ve spent as much time on my “hobby” language, Scots Gaelic as I have on my main one. That needs to stop because I am determined to be properly fluent in Portuguese if it kills me.

I’m not very good at abandoning things so I’m allowing myself till the end of this coming week to finish off my remaining Gaelic things, and read any outstanding foreign language books from my TBR and then I am going to commit to portuguese: purge my daily to-do list of distractions, delete Duolingo (It’s too Brazilian) and submerge myself in the language as far as reasonably possible for someone who doesn’t live there. The time for pissing about is over. Go duro or go para casa.

So here’s my list of activities to work on through the autumn

  • Make a new Twitter account, tweet only in Portuguese, pretend to be Portuguese, interact with people, see how long I can get away with it (not long probably, but it’ll be fun to try)
  • Watch one Portuguese movie or series episode per week.
  • Finally finish “A Actualidade em Português*” which is a B2 book meant to finish in 2020 but didn’t
  • Then do one esercise of Português Atual* C1 or one from this course per day
  • Only read Portuguese books (exception for work-related books that I need to read for career development)
  • Listen to mainly portuguese audio. I probably can’t go total on this one but the balance needs to shift towards Portuguese pretty decisively.
  • Memorise one Portuguese poem per week. C-level Portuguese needs you to be able to appreciate literature a bit and I’ve been trying to memorise poems recently, including one by Pessoa and one by Florbela Espanca, which I can still remember weeks later, so this seems like something I can incorporate as part of my language learning.
  • Write something each day on the Portuguese Writestreak subreddit.
  • Follow the Bertrand Portuguese History Course once a fortnight and try to participate as much as possible. It’s starting soon and it’s really good value (only a hundred and forty quid for 20 lessons with current exchange rates and bulk discount) but pretty challenging (see this review of a previous course I did for an idea of how challenging!)

The aim will be to go for C1 or even C2 by about May next year.

Now I know what you’re thinking: “are you crazy?” and you’re right, it does seem pretty ambitious, but I’ve been thinking it through and I reckon I can do it. The key piece is what I wrote at the top there about clearing my daily to do list. Early in the pandemic I started getting up at 5.30 and going through a list of daily chores, including meditation, a big chunk of Duolingo, watering the plants and a load of other bits and pieces. It’s nice because it gives me some free time before my family wake up to do things on my own before work starts and feel productive. If I purge a few things from that and replace with daily items from the list and do some of the larger things like movies in the evening and weekends it should be manageable, time-wise. I just need to keep it interesting: short texts in the writestreak, be ruthless about abandoning boring books so reading doesn’t become a chore, try to be funny on twitter, make sure the films I choose are good… Yeah, I can do this.

Sou capaz!

I have some other things I’d like to fit in, like cooking from Portuguese recipes, following Portuguese exercise videos, finally getting around to reading the bloody Lusíadas, going to a fado concert or two, actually visiting the country itself, and (this is the most ambitious of all) having a conversation with my wife in Portuguese without her running away with her fingers in her ears to escape my horrible accent. But those are probably a bit hard to plan since they either don’t fit easily into my routine or in some cases they’re contingent on the pandemic simmering down. Basically, I don’t want to have something on the plan that I won’t end up doing because then I’ll start to lose motivation. I think the list on its own will do for now. If I manage the others, I’ll consider that icing on the cake.

*=if you’re interested in finding out about textbooks for Portuguese study, I did a page about them recently.

Posted in English

The Corrections

Writing texts in the WritestreakPT subreddit has been really interesting. That’s where all these corrections have been coming from on this blog lately, and the people who hang out there correcting texts are really nice. It’s good when the corrections show you new words and are an education in themselves, and today has produced some.really interesting new words so I thought I’d share the results of my digging. These are all taken from the comments under “Os Adolescentes”

“Não vou ser assim tão picuinhas aqui”. I’m not going to be so fussy here. Picuinhas is an odd looking word. It almost looks like it wants a q in place of the c. And more to the point, why is it an adjective that apparently always ends in -as, even when the noun it’s referring to is singular and masculine? Priberam defines it as “Quem é exageradamente minucioso, quem dá muito importância a pormenores”. So I almost translated it as pedantic, but “pedante” already exists and I think fussy or picky is probably nearer the mark.

“Alguns são matreiros” Some of them are tricky.

“O meu pelouro são as vírgulas”. My area of responsibility is commas. I assumed “pelouro” must be like “pet peeve” but it’s not. A Pelouro is a branch of the municipal government of the responsibility of an individual Councillor, so by extension if someone says “O meu pelouro é (whatever)” they’re saying that’s their department: the thing they care about, and they make it their business to keep an eye on it.

I’m not sure what a pet peeve is. “Pet hate”, if you’re interested, is “Ódio de estimação”, which is exactly what you’d expect since a pet is an animal de estimação.

I asked about the Pelouro example. It is, as she said, “um pouco rebuscado” that they use local council departments as a way of denoting personal areas of responsibility. I only know “rebuscado” as meaning “far-fetched” when describing a book, say, but it has other meanings and the sense seems to be slightly different here. It’s a bit of a stretch; it’s a bit laboured.

I was advised to maybe check up on a facebook group called “Tesourinhos das Autárquicas” (clippings from the local elections) to get a flavour of what goes on in Portuguese local democracy. It’s a good way of getting some exposure to the language, culture and politics of the country, which can only be a good thing.

Finally, I said (in English) “I can feel a blog post coming on”, and that, apparently is “Cheira-me que vem aí uma publicação do blog”. It smells like there is a blog post coming. Smells? What are you implying? 🤔

Posted in English

Low Quality Memes For Your Consideration

I made these yesterday and tried translating them into Portuguese… Seems straightforward enough but humour is a bit tricky to get right.

… Obviously I realise the first one seems a bit douchey out of context, but the idea is to contrast vaccinated people with conspiracists, not to pretend Covid is no longer a problem. There are plenty of ways you can overthink it, but in the original context I think they made sense, so just try and relax and bask in the memishness.

Words for pandemic deniers can include negadores (“deniers”) negacionistas (“denialists” i guess) and I believe a conspiracy theorist is “o teórico da conspiração”

Ive used “disparates” for “nonsense”. I think “tretas” might have worked too. I feel that’s more like a deliberate, strategic falsehood rather than just straightforward nonsense. There are probably other options: maybe “bitates” (which I think is like waffle) or “palpites” (guesswork), or just the all-out rudity like merda. I’m sure there are dozens more. There certainly are in English!

Have I mentioned we had an outbreak of covid in the house? I don’t think I have on this blog. It’s all a bit mysterious really. I’ve written a text about it in Portuguese though so that will be popping up later today.