Posted in English

40 Dias and 40 Noites

I’m a 40 days into my long march to C1 proficiency. I’m doing pretty well. Here’s what I’ve been doing in each of the goals:

  • Make a new Twitter account, tweet only in PortugueseDone! I’ve been updating daily, trying to pass as an illiterate Portuguese guy. 52 followers so far and nobody has come out and denounced me as an imposter but I daresay they are thinking it. I did have one person – a Brazilian – refer to me a a Tuguinho, which I enjoyed. She was a nutjob though so it probably doesn’t count.
  • Watch one Portuguese movie or series episode per week. Done! So far, half way through a series called Crónica dos Bons Malandros and I’ve watched one film. I don’t watch much telly generally so this is hard work.
  • Finally finish “A Actualidade em Português*” Done!
  • Then do one esercise of Português Atual* C1 or one from this course per day. Done! I’ve hit at least one exercise per day, usually quite a lot more. I’m about two thirds of the way through the book now and I’ll start on the course next.
  • Only read Portuguese books (exception for work-related books that I need to read for career development). Done. I’ve read no books in English since the start of the challenge apart from a work-related book about spreadsheets.
  • Listen to mainly portuguese audio. Could probably be better tbh. I’ve listened to quite a lot but it’s still in the minority.
  • Memorise one Portuguese poem per week. I’ve done four: Coroai-me De Rosas by Ricardo Reis, Segue o Teu Destino by the same author, Flagrante by Antonio Zambujo and Tenho Pena de Quem é o Meu Amigo by Gregório Duvivier. So I’m one short. This is really painful to be honest.
  • Write something each day on the Portuguese Writestreak subreddit. Done! My streak is up to 40 days now.
  • Follow the Bertrand Portuguese History Course once a fortnight Done! I’ve mentioned this a few times because of the scandal surrounding the teacher. I missed the first session due to senility but that was just before the challenge period so I’m still golden!

I’ve done some side-quests too! My first one was the project I did to try and understand the outline of Portuguese politics; then I went to see a night of (mostly) Portuguese music and this week I tried my hand at cooking a pudding called Pudim de Leite Condensado from a Portuguese recipe.

Behold its majesty!

Pudim de Leite Condensado
The goodness within!

So that’s how I’m doing. The schedule is a lot easier than I expected. I’m finding it a faff to fit the weekly goals in, especially now I’m in full time work again, but I’ll keep plugging away!

Posted in English

Synonymous Bosch

Found our today that the word nora has two meanings. One is Daughter-in-law (I already knew this one) and the other is Waterwheel. Why those two things? I dunno.

Anyway, i was straight in there with a pun. I asked my wife to proof-read it for me to make sure I hadn’t ballsed up the grammar too badly. She’s very patient.

Posted in English

Deadly Synonyms

Here’s a confusing instance of double-meanings from the C1 exercises.

The question is to find synonyms for a list of words. One of the words is “Confuso” and the options it gives are (a) desordenado (b) esclarecido (c) desarrumado (d) obscuro.

The answer is obviously (a) right? Right? Well, no, it’s (d) according to the book. I went to the Porto Editora dictionary and it seems to support my claim.

Confuso definition

But wait, what’s that in the second row?

Confuso again


I posted on the Portuguese subreddit in a we-was-robbed-ref kind of way and most people agreed that (d) was the best answer.

I'm even more confuso now

Priberam gives the same two definitions but in a different order of precedence.

Bit of a mess really. I don’t think the question is well written but it’s worth bearing in mind that Confuso has a slightly different weighting from its English equivalent.

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 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


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 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.
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.