Posted in English

Liberals

I’ve been watching the reaction to this American child who ended up killing two people due to living in a place with terrible gun laws and worse ideas. Needless to say, most Brazilians think he’s a hero. Or most vocal twitter Brazilians think so anyway. The Portuguese tend to line up closer to the brits, utterly baffled and bewildered by the whole business and fairly sure something has gone wrong somewhere.

What’s interesting to me, from the political point of view, is how the word Liberal is used in Portugal. Of course, the word has a slightly different valence from country to country. Over here, liberals are well-meaning but ineffective. In the US the term is used as a derogatory label for anyone on the spectrum between Hillary Clinton and Lenin. But check out this tweet from Diogo Faro, the Owen Jones of Portuguese Twitter.

And that’s one of hundreds and hundreds I could have picked. Liberals and fascists seem often to be equated as if they were basically the same thing. I’m not sure exactly where this comes from: whether the Iniciativa Liberal are genuinely very right wing, or if its just a phenomenon of the parties being so fragmented that the IL end up in alliances with parties like Chega in the same way as the centre left has to shack up with the communists. Or maybe Portuguese political twitter is a minority that’s so far to the left that the remaining 99% of the political spectrum just seems like fascism from where they’re standing. I dunno.

Anyway, sorry for the politics. Ill get back to other things next.

Posted in English

A Neuterful Mind

Hm, I’m really scraping the bottom of the barrel with these neuter puns aren’t I? (previous examples here and here)

For anyone who was interested in the issue of well-meaning-but-annoying young activists trying to force a neuter gender into Portuguese grammar as a way of describing either individuals who self-describe as gender-neutral, or mixed groups of male and female people, here’s an example in a meme of someone trying to use it in a group situation.

I have to ask myself if it’s real or a joke. If it’s real then Marcelo probably should have said “convidades” to match the adjective to his openening noun. I’m with Mariana, Lucas, Karina and the rest in this one though I think. Its hard enough trying to remember that saucepans have gender without also having to remember that some people have one of 67 imaginary ones.

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Swimply the Breast

I went swimming yesterday for the first time since before the age of covid. Since a long time before, in fact. I recorded the workout in my fitness app. Yes, I’ve become one of those people! Anyway, like most things on my phone, it’s in Portuguese so I had to try and figure out what this lot meant. They’re not words I’ve ever needed before. So here’s the scoooooop:

  • Natação =swimming
  • Braçada =stroke. “estilo” and even “movimento” can be used instead.
  • Costas =backstroke
  • Bruços =breaststroke (aka “de peito”)
  • Mariposa =butterfly – also called “borboleta” and “golfinho”
  • Estilo Livre =crawl actually called “crawl” in Brasil and “crol” in portugal, and these seem to be more common names than “Estilo Livre” as far as I can see.

Posted in English

Leveling Up

I’m on day 66 of my epic quest for C1 competence. I’ve finished Português Atual (which is one of the books reviewed on this page) and signed on for the Instituto Camões course. They are the people responsible for administering the exams so I feel like this is “straight from the horse’s mouth” as it were, but I wish they’d work on the website a bit more because all I’ve learned so far is how to say “page loading”.

I’ll update on here as I go along. If I go along…

Posted in English

Children of the Corno

I see the word corno a lot on social media in different contexts so I thought I’d dig into it a bit.

Corno
Me so corny

Ordinary, standard meanings are pretty straightforward:

  • A horn – ie, what a cow has on its head (you’ll also see “chifre” and “galho” especially in relation to a deer’s antlers, but the distinction between horns and antlers seems a little permeable…?)
  • By extension, various other things that are a bit like horns (antennae, tentacles, bone spurs and so on) will sometimes be referred to as cornos. You’ll also see “corno de abundância” or “corno de Amalteia” for cornucopia, or corno de sapato for shoehorn, for example.
  • A horn on a car (I’ve never seen this in the wild – buzina is the more usual word – but this definition exists in priberam).
  • One of the points at either end of a crescent moon.
  • A kind of plant – careful though, its not what we call corn (that’s milho), but a family of shrubs in the cornacea family.

But when I see it on social media, it usually means one of two things, depending on whether its singular or plural.

When it’s in the singular, it usually means cuckold, either in the original sense of a man whose wife is unfaithful, or the more modern one of someone who enjoys watching his wife be unfaithful. So when you see it online it’s often by the sort of person who would use the word “cuck” as an insult in English. They tend not to be the loveliest people, I’m afraid.

And in the plural, it usually means the face or head – so “um tiro nos cornos” =a bullet in the head, “levou uma pá nos cornos” = he got hit in the face with a shovel, and you’ll see various combinations of levar/ apanhar/ dar + nos cornos meaning various types of damage being inflicted above the neckline. In some cases it’s figurative – if someone loses a war or an argument or a football match, say.

There’s also “passado dos cornos”, gone in the head, meaning maluco or doido.

Calm down, lad!

So there you go. I hope you have enjoyed this dose of hardcore cornography. I feel like I should set homework for you. Try going in twitter now and searching for the expression “nos cornos”. Browse through a few examples and see if you can work out what the tweeter is trying to imply – whether they’re describing an actual physical injury or just some sort of defeat. Tell me your favourite example in the comments.

Posted in English, Portuguese

Anatomy of a Dad Joke

My plot to demoralise the Portuguese Republic by inflicting terrible puns on its citizens until they are unable to function continues apace. Here’s one I did yesterday – with a translation and explanation below.

Fui expulso da Sociedade Geográfica por ter insistido que o Terramoto de 1755 foi causado por moluscos marinhos. A partir daí, os sócios recusaram de falar comigo.
Foi um ostrasismo.

So the translation is:

I was expelled from the Geographical Society for insisting that the great earthquake of 1755 was caused by marine molluscs. From then on, the other members refused to speak to me. 
It was an ostracism

It’s probably obvious *where* the pun is. Ostracism is the word that sticks out as unusual. So why is it meant to be funny? Ostracismo is supposed to be spelled with a C, not an S, as I’ve written it. Ostra means oyster and Sismo is another word for earthquake. So… Ostra Sismo.

Posted in English, Portuguese

Fazer’s On Stun

Another C1 Exercise: uses of Fazer with a preposition

Não te faças de sonso. Diz-me! Passaste ou não passaste? (Fazer-se de = to our on an act – so this first sentence is like “don’t act all coy”)

Não estudei e isso fez com que chumbasse no exame. (fazer com que = to have a consequence. Note the use of the subjunctive after it)

Os meus pais queriam ir de férias durante o período letivo, por isso mandaram um email que a fazer de conta que eu estava doente (fazer de conta = to pretend)

Eu também, fiz por aprender mas não consegui reter nada do assunto. (fazer por = to make an effort)

Precisas de trabalhar e fazer pela vida (Fazer pela vida = to make a living)

Tens febre. Queres uma tigela de canja? O que é que posso fazer por ti? (this Fazer por isn’t really a comound verb. He’s just offering to do something for the person)

Farei um grande esforço para ajudar* o meu vizinho que quer pintar o quarto da filha mas não consegue mover os móveis. (Also not a comound verb. He’s just making an effort to help. This sentence and the one above are good examples of the subtle differences between por and para, I think. You’d translate both as “for” in English but in this case, the person is making an effort in order to help, so you use para, whereas in the previous paragraph you’re doing something as a result of their need, so it’s por)

Quando era sócio do clube de drama, fiz de príncipe da Dinamarca numa peça chamada… Hum… Hamster ou algo do género. (Fazer de = to act like, to represent)

Fiz o relatório da câmara municipal (This fazer de isn’t a compound verb – I just made the report about the local government)

Este texto faz parte da minha aprendizagem de português. (Fazer parte de =to be a part of something)

I feel you, Scotty (image: Swear Trek)
Posted in English

Buarque Life

Cover of the album "construção" by Chico Buarque
Cover of the album “Construção” by Chico Buarque

Continuing to fanboy about this song. Here’s a translation, highlighting the “Proparoxítono” words.

I’ve borrowed pretty heavily from some of the many versions on Lyricstranslate. They’re all by brazilians, I think, and they’ve done a great job, so I’ve cleaned up the english and made a few other changes but generally assumed they know more than I do about the point of the song. I found “flácido” really difficult to translate. It obviously means “flaccid” but that word just sounds so wrong in a song. I’ve gone for “sagging” since it fits in both the lines it’s used in. I think that’s the best I can do but this is the sort of thing that makes you realise how hard the job of the translator is.

A couple of interesting things to add:

Firstly, I didn’t notice when I heard it but the first two lines end in the same word. That’s a bit of a cheat, Chico, come on! It’s the only example of that though.

Secondly, he keeps the rest of the line unchanged almost all the time but there are a few other small changes, which I’ve highlighted in orange. The fact that portuguese doesn’t use many subject pronouns helps in this regard. In the first line, “fosse” goes from “it was” to “he was” with no need for other changes. You just get it from the context, because “única” changes gender, meaning it is now referring to the man, not to the (a) vez.

Amou daquela vez como se fosse a última
Beijou sua mulher como se fosse a última
E cada filho seu como se fosse o único
E atravessou a rua com seu passo tímido
Subiu a construção como se fosse máquina
Ergueu no patamar quatro paredes sólidas
Tijolo com tijolo num desenho mágico
Seus olhos embotados de cimento e lágrima
Sentou pra descansar como se fosse sábado
Comeu feijão com arroz como se fosse um príncipe
Bebeu e soluçou como se fosse um náufrago
Dançou e gargalhou como se ouvisse música
E tropeçou no céu como se fosse um bêbado
E flutuou no ar como se fosse um pássaro
E se acabou no chão feito um pacote flácido
Agonizou no meio do passeio público
Morreu na contramão atrapalhando o tráfego
He made love that time like it was the last time
He kissed his wife like she was the last woman
And kissed each child like they were the only one
And he crossed the street with his timid steps
He climbed the construction like he was a machine
He built up four solid walls at the next level
Brick after brick in a magical design
His eyes were crusted with cement and tears
He sat down to rest like it was Saturday
He ate rice and beans like he was a prince
He drank and sobbed like he’d been shipwrecked
He danced and laughed like he was listening to music
He tripped on the sky like he was a drunk
And he floated on the air like he was a bird
And he ended up on the ground like a sagging package
He agonized in the middle of the public pavement
He died on the wrong side of the road disrupting the traffic
Amou daquela vez como se fosse o último
Beijou sua mulher como se fosse a única
E cada filho seu como se fosse o pródigo
E atravessou a rua com seu passo bêbado
Subiu na construção como se fosse sólido
Ergueu no patamar quatro paredes mágicas
Tijolo com tijolo num desenho lógico
Seus olhos embotados de cimento e tráfego
Sentou pra descansar como se fosse um príncipe
Comeu feijão com arroz como se fosse o máximo
Bebeu e soluçou como se fosse máquina
Dançou e gargalhou como se fosse o próximo
E tropeçou no céu como se ouvisse música
E flutuou no ar como se fosse sábado
E se acabou no chão feito um pacote tímido
Agonizou no meio do passeio náufrago
Morreu na contramão atrapalhando o público
He made love that time like he was the greatest
He kissed his wife like she was the only one
And kissed each child like they were the prodigal son
And he crossed the street with his drunk steps
He climb the construction like it was a solid
He built up four magic walls at the next level
Brick after brick in logical design
His eyes were crusted with cement and traffic
He sat down to rest like he was a prince
He ate rice and beans like it was the greatest meal
He drank and sobbed like he was a machine
He danced and laughed like he was the next one
He tripped on the sky like he was listening to music
And he floated on the air like it was Saturday
And he ended up on the ground like a timid package
He agonized on the middle of the shipwrecked pavement
He died on the wrong side of the road distrupting the people
Amou daquela vez como se fosse máquina
Beijou sua mulher como se fosse lógico
Ergueu no patamar quatro paredes flácidas
Sentou pra descansar como se fosse um pássaro
E flutuou no ar como se fosse um príncipe
E se acabou no chão feito um pacote bêbado
Morreu na contramão atrapalhando o sábado
He made love that time like he was a machine
He kissed his wife like it was logical
He built up four sagging walls at the next level
He sat down to rest like he was a bird
And he floated on the air like he was a prince
And he ended up on the ground like a drunken package
He died on the wrong side of the road disrupting Saturday
Constrṳ̣o РChico Buarque

The song was written in the seventies, during the dictatorship when Buarque was living in exile. There are a lot of theories about exactly wht he’s trying to do, but he hasn’t really spelled it out, preferring to let people speculate. There’s a definite shift between the three stages: the first one seems quite factual, the second sort of carefree, the third nightmarish. The social criticism is about the fact that, at the time, a lot of people were moving to the cities in search of a better life but finding that living conditions and working conditions were pretty terrible.