Posted in English, Portuguese


Another batch of expressions from the C1/2 Textbook I’m using

Passar pelas brasas (pass through the coals) =have a little sleep

Dar barraca (give a shed) = provoke a scandal

Surdo como uma porta (deaf as a door) =deaf as a post

É outra loiça (It’s different crockery) =much better (food)

Estar em maus lençóis (be on bad sheets) = be in a sticky situation

Falar de poleiro (speak from a perch) = Speak arrogantly, get on your high horse

Ser um bom garfo (be a good fork) = be a lover of good food


Sem eira nem beira (without a floor or a roof*) = very poor

Estúpido como uma porta (stupid as a door) =daft as a brush

Atirar o barro à parede (throw the clay at the wall) = test the waters to see if someone might be receptive to your idea

De cortar à faca (you could cut it with a knife) =same as the English expression – when the atmosphere is so tense or oppressive that you feel like you could cut it with a knife

Cascos de rolha (corked casks) = a long way off.

De fio a pavio (from string to wick) =from beginning to end. (I think we’re supposed to think of a candle burning all the way down)

Entrar em parafuso (go into a screw) = go into a tailspin, panic

*=There was a bit of debate over this one. Eira is a kind of floor or patch of ground in a village, where harvested grain is threshed and sieved ready for storage. Beira is a word we usually hear when talking about the seaside (“beira mar”) but it can be the eaves of a roof. The phrase is sometimes expanded to “Sem eira nem beira nem ramo de figueira”, adding that the poor bugger doesn’t even have the branch of a fig tree.

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Obscure Word of the Day

The book I’m reading is pretty hard. I judge these things in how often I have to reach for the dictionary and this one is about three times per page. I’ve just come across a really surprising word: “pechisbeque”.

Duas camisolas de malha iguais, de cores diferentes, um pólo cor-de-rosa, uma caneta, um par de brincos de pechisbeque, dentro de uma caixinha acolchoada, dois perfumes em miniatura

As Telefones – Djaimilia Pereira de Almeida
Pinchbeck jewelry
Pinchbeck / Pechisbeque

Not only is it unfamiliar, but what it’s describing isn’t even something I’ve come across in my half century of life. The English equivalent is Pinchbeck and its an alloy of copper and zinc that resembles gold. Is it just me? I’d never heard of it.

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Digital Nobhead

I quite enjoyed the roasting this digital nomad bro got after posting this rant about how old cities are old, and there’s a lack of sausages in Lisbon but at least they speak good English.

Posted in English, Portuguese

Vidadupla – Sérgio Godinho

Vidadupla de Sérgio Godinho
Vidadupla de Sérgio Godinho

Here’s a review of the audiobook of Vidadupla (“Double Life”) by singer, poet, author and rennaissance man Sérgio Godinho. I listened to it on the Bertrand “Biblio” app, but as I mentioned before, it’s a bit unreliable in that it seems to pause itself when the screen dims or… Something… Something isn’t quite right, at least in the Android version, so I had to keep pinging it to wake it up. That’s probably OK at home but it’s a bit annoying if you’re gardening at the same time, as I was. If you haven’t already seen it, there’s a whole page about different sources of Portuguese audiobooks here. Thanks to Patis12 and Dani_Morgenstern for the corrections

Acabei de “ler” este Audiolivro do Sérgio Godinho hoje. É uma coleção de contos e o vocabulário é bastante fácil para um aluno do meu nível. Mas tinha uns problemas.

É que… A narradora tem uma voz hipnótica portanto (estou envergonhado por admitir) dei por mim a ficar repetidamente distraído* pelo ritmo da leitura e logo depois perdi o fio à meada. Rebobinei a gravação várias vezes mas afinal não apreciei o livro tanto quanto merece. Ou talvez sou eu que não mereço livros bons.

Bem, de qualquer maneira, gostei do que ouvi. Nem sequer sabia que o Senhor Godinho tinha escrito livros. Já ouvi várias músicas dele. É óbvio que é um homem que sabe criar coisas bonitas.

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Freudian Slip

The exercises in the book I’m working through have themes to them. The last few have all been expressions involving body parts. The other day included one that said “Fugir a boca para a verdade” (The mouth runs rowards the truth) meaning if you don’t keep it under control, your mouth just blurts out what’s really on your mind. The very same day, I saw someone using it because George W Bush had given a speech and, as this tweeter commented, his big stupid mouth had done exactly that.

Here are a few of my favourites from the same exercise

Sete cães a um osso – lots of people are trying to lay claim to one thing, or the attention of one person

Estar debaixo da língua – equivalent to “on the tip of my tongue”

Ficar com um nó na garganta – equivalent to “have a lump in one’s throat”

Ter as costas largas – to be able to cope with a lot of responsibility

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Se Me Agiganto

I’d like to thank Heike Dio who commented under a recent post about the Dulce Pontes / Moonspell collab. She suggested I have a look at the Linda Martini performance on Antena 3 with Ana Moura on guest vocals. It’s good: very stylish and original, so I’m really glad to have it on my YouTube music playlist. I must say, I still prefer the chaos energy of the Dulce Pontes one though. I’ve been watching that at least once a day since I first found it. Here is Heike’s recommendatiin though, and I’ll try and translate the lyrics underneath because that’ll help me understand it.

If I Grow*

Espero que te venha o sono /I hope sleep comes to you
Que te deites cedo, antes de eu chegar /That you go to bed early before I arrive
Que isto de ser dois, longe do plural /Because this thing of being a couple, far from being plural
É tão singular /Is so singular

Paredes de empena / Gabled walls
Já nem vale a pena /It’s not even worth it any more
Resta-nos arder / Now it’s time for us to burn
Que esta chama lenta /Because this slow flame
Já virou tormenta** / Has become a firestorm
E ao entardecer / And as it gets late

Ninguém me diz / Nobody told me
O que há depois de nós / That there was something after us
E se depois de nós / And that after us both
Os dois me Agiganto / I’ll grow.

Eu já fui embora / And i left
Já marquei a hora / And i marked the time
Pra não me atrasar / So as not to be late
Já comprei bilhete / i bought a ticket
Deixei-te um bilhete / i left you a ticket
E a descongelar / And once thawed out
Os restos de ontem / Yesterday’s leftovers
Dão pra o jantar / Will be enough for dinner

Ninguém me diz / Nobody told me
O que há depois de nós / That there was something after us
E se depois de nós / And that after us both
Os dois me Agiganto / I’ll grow.

*=Agigantar literally means become a giant, but with that little reflexive pronoun, it becomes a verbo pronomial meaning “get bigger” so “grow” seems like a better translation.

**=Tormenta looks like it ought to mean “torment”. It actually means “storm” but I translated it as firestorm because a flame becoming a rainstorm doesn’t seem right.

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The Sempei of Sempre

When I was about 11 or 12 and learning Latin at school, my mum told me a rhyme she had for remembering the meaning of the word “semper”, meaning “always”: She’d say “Semper, semper, always keep your temper”.

It still works, most of the time, for the latin-derived word “sempre”. It usually means “always”, but there are exceptions. The first one you learn is “Sempre em frente”, meaning “straight ahead”, and there are a few other little expressions like “até sempre” and “para sempre” where it works with another word to mean something related but slightly different.

But even in normal usage, not part of an expression, it seems like the word order matters and it can change what it means depending where it comes in the sentence. I have made a couple of mistakes around this lately so I’ve been pointed to some examples. Here are a couple, shamelessly stolen from Reddit

O João sempre passou nos testes

O João passou sempre nos testes

In the first one, sempre goes before the verb, so it means “João ended up passing the tests”. Maybe he wasn’t expecting to pass but he managed to pull it off. Or maybe you weren’t sure but then you found out that, yes, yes he did.

In the second, sempre goes after the verb so it means what you expect it to mean – João was a smarty pants and every time he took a test he always passed it.

This seems to be a quirk of European Portuguese. In Brazil, it just means what you expect it to mean, regardless of the order, but in Europe, where you put it makes all the difference!

So, for us anglos, we need to resist the urge to put sempre where we would put it in our own language. “He always passed always the test”

There’s a video about it here if you’d rather hear about this from the horse’s mouth.

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It’s hard to think of two musical. Genres that would be harder to turn into a crossover performance than Fado and Death Metal. And yet, if you think about it, is it that surprising a combination? They both deal in heavy stuff like death and despair, everyone’s wearing black and it’s all guitar-based (albeit a different kind of guitar). Fado is usually more subtle of course, but could it ever work? Well, here’s Dulce Pontes and Moonspell coming to test the theory at the Play Awards a few days ago.

It starts out with her singing fado and him not really able to keep up, and they go along together for a while, but by the end she’s pretty much reigning supreme over goth metal and he still can’t really keep up. The bit right at the end where he roars and she shrieks, but she can keep up the shrieking about four times as long as he can keep up the roar so he’s just left there staring at heaven from whence God’s vengeance cometh while she’s still belting out the same note. No prisoners taken!

The song they’re singing at the start is “Porque”, from Dulce’s latest album, and it’s based on a poem by Sophia De Mello Breyner Andresen. It’s expressing admiration for another person’s bravery and independence of spirit (“because others wear a mask but you don’t, because others use their virtue to pay for what can’t be forgiven – because others are afraid and you aren’t”) After the beat drops at about the half way mark, they’re onto Moonspell’s “In Tremor Dei“* which is a doom laden song about the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake “Lisbon in flames – a lantern lit, when a city falls another empire arises…” On the face of it, the two songs don’t seem to go well together, but the segue works because of the lyrics: at the end of the second verse of the fado, they sing together “porque os outros se calam mas tu não” – “because others keep quiet but you don’t.” Cue drums, guitar, crowd chanting and first pumping. Epic.

There were some other crossovers at the same show, like one between Nenny and Ana Moura, or between Camané, Agir and the Ukrainian Orthodox Choir, all good in their own ways of course, but this one is by far the most epic.

I’ve got tickets to see a Dulce Pontes concert that was delayed from last November to this November and I’m hoping she brings these lads with her now.

*Don’t panic if you’re struggling to translate the title – it’s Latin, not Portuguese!

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I got so carried away the other day that I published a blog post with this title and no content at all. I’m a five-year-old at heart. By the time I’d finished reading the article I had planned to base it on, though, I’d changed my mind, because, despite being written in Portuguese, it doesn’t actually have much information about Portuguese culture. In fact, as you’ll see, I learned more about French than I did about Portuguese. I considered changing the title to “Peido and Peidjudice” or “Peidomaníaco”, “Peidogeddon” or “It’s Peidback Time” or something, but I just decided to stick with this title in the end so as not to disappoint anyone who saw the first post and had been holding their breath in expectation of the second.

Governor William J Le Petomane (left) and friends

Li um artigo no jornal Público sobre a História Cultural da Flatulência. O escritor não deu exemplos da flatulência na vida cultural portuguesa. Não faço ideia porquê. Os portugueses não se peidam? De qualquer maneira, o que mais me surpreendeu foi uma referência ao nome de uma personagem no filme do Mel Brooks, Blazing Saddles. O seu nome é Governor William J Le Petomane. O Le Pétomane original era um artista, antes da guerra, cujo nome significa “Peidomaníaco” por razões que são provavelmente óbvias. Apesar de ter visto o filme vezes sem conta, eu nem sequer sabia o significado do seu apelido.

Joseph Pujol, aka Le Pétomane