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Emos, Emas and Emus: know the difference

I put this meme on twitter earlier, inspired by a random thought from a previous post.

Tumbleweeds.

Emos, emas and emus. Know the difference.

It’s always a bit tricky when a joke in Portuguese dies on its arse. Is it because my grammar is incomprehensible, or is it just not funny. Reposted on Instagram and it got a few likes. OK, I’ll take that.

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Sheila Take a Baú

Social media really is a treasure trove of stuff you can learn, and it doesn’t feel like a chore because you’re just looking at memes. Here’s one i found today.

I know “golpe” is like a blow – in the sense of a blow to the head or a blow from an axe: the impact of something. It’s used in “golpe de estado” (coup d’état) for example. And baú is a chest – as in “treasure chest”. So when you put them together, what do you get? A golpe de baú is the act of marrying an older guy in the hope of inheriting all his wealth.

So, basically, I’m the words of Kanye West, they ain’t sayin’ she a gold digger, but she ain’t messin’ with no broke tuga.

I don’t actually know who the woman is or what the account that’s posting this is like, so I’m not sure whether she’s in on the joke or whether it’s meant in a cruel way or whether she’s done anything to deserve it or whether they are just being arseholes, but I am so pleased to have learned a new thing that I don’t really care.

Golpe de baú

You can read more about the history of the phrase Golpe de Baú on Wikipedia if you’re interested

Posted in Portuguese

Segredo Mortal – Bruno M Franco

Segredo Mortal de Bruno M Franco
Segredo Mortal

Here’s a review of the massive beach thriller I’ve been reading, “Segredo Mortal” by Bruno M Franco. I’ve possibly been a little harsh on it, given that it’s a thriller and not meant to be scrutinised too closely but hi ho. It’s a relatively easy read: if you’re at B2 you’ll probably hardly touch your dictionary and even a confident B1 could read it without enduring serious brainfires. It’s available at Bertrand of course and I’m sure I’ve seen it in the excellent Portuguese Language section of the Charing Cross Road branch of Foyles too, but can’t seem to find it on their site, so maybe it’s in-store only, or maybe that was just a beautiful dream. Amazon might have it too if you are a fan of evil companies.

A abertura dum bom thriller captura sempre a atenção do leitor. Geralmente há várias personagens em situações de perigo ou a enfrentar um mistério, e o autor alterna os capítulos entre as cenas, deixando os enredos desenrolar até fica claro qual é o fio que une todas estas histórias, e qual é a força sinistra por trás dos eventos. Se o escritor cumprir esta tarefa com êxito, a bolha delicada da nossa credulidade fica intacta até ao final. Não pedimos mais do que isso.

Os primeiros capítulos do “Segredo Mortal” não nos desiludem: uma tempestade, a descoberta de vários cadáveres, um jovem perseguido por um soldado, um assassino em série prestes a sair do seu lar…

E de forma geral, os capítulos que se seguem correm bem. O autor sabe escrever. O diálogo, o desenvolvimento das personagens, os encontros, a acção, tudo se lê bem, mas há pontos fracos quando se mete a explicar as ligações entre os elementos do enredo: por exemplo, a cena na qual os polícias ouvem o testemunho dum grupo de cientistas sobre as origens da tempestade: a sua explicação não faz o mínimo sentido. Se estivesse lá, eu diria “mas porquê?” de cinco em cinco segundos. Simplesmente não acreditei nos motivos por trás do enredo.

Por causa disso*, muitas outras coisas não bateram certo na ausência da minha “fé” no caroço do enredo: as mortes de várias pessoas; a existência de alguém que é simultaneamente um maluco assassino em série e um assassino profissional bem controlado; a entrada dos pais duma personagem importante; o relacionamento dos dois polícias (que deu num dos epílogos mais bizarros que já li na minha vida). Tantas, tantas coisas!

E por falar nos dois polícias, o livro poderia ser mais fino por cem páginas se os protagonistas soubessem o significado da palavra “Parceiro”. Duas vezes o homem entrou sozinho num sítio, para dar com o assassino em série. Quando a segunda vez chegou, eu estava a falar em voz alta, “Pá, és o parceiro dela. Leva-a contigo e talvez tenham hipótese de prender o gajo sem ficares esfaqueado pela segunda vez neste livro!”

Spoiler alert: deixou-a no carro e ficou esfaqueado pela segunda vez naquele livro. Eh pá!**

A minha filha aconselhou-me a deixar de ler mas estou contente por ter aguentado: o autor conseguiu o desfecho do enredo e apesar dos problemas, o livro é divertido.

*I originally wrote “por resultado” (as a result) but that’s not very idiomatic

**Just to contradict what I wrote in the footnotes of the Herman José text a few days ago, one of the suggested changes was to write “epá” on place of “eh pá”. I dunno, I think I’m just going to stick with this spelling, regardless of the fact that different people have different ways of writing it. It might seem a bit fussy to some but you can’t please all the people all the time.

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FLiPping Heck

I’ve been repeating a lot of silly errors lately, often just typos that don’t get caught by my usual method: pasting my Portuguese texts into Google Translate to see if it can correctly translate them back into English. Google Translate is quite forgiving of “gralhas” (typos) so if you wrote “ni” instead of “no” because you are a medieval Knight and that’s your favourite word and autocorrect has changed it for you, Google Translate will probably correctly guess what you meant, and the error will slip through.

The Knights Who Say Ni
Found on someone’s Pinterest. No idea who owns it. Too good not to use.

One of the correctors on the subreddit suggested I incorporate FLiP into my routine. It’s a spelling and syntax validator. I’ve had a play and concluded it definitely has its uses. It has a pretty big gotcha though. In fact, I thought it was wrong about a couple of AO spellings. It prompted me to change the spelling of Ótimo to the older Óptimo, for example. Well, I like the old version so I’m not too bothered, but it’s the wrong advice.

When it did the same with the word “corre(c)ção” I really started giving it side-eye. Considering corre(c)ções are its raison d’etre, that would be a pretty big error. It turned out there was a good reason though. Can you spot my mistake?

Yeah, it defaults to the old spellings and i hadn’t noticed there was a box to tick right there at the top that makes it use the newer ones. So make sure you remember that!

Like any computer program, it’s not immune to errors though. Today’s text includes the phrase “os capítulos que se seguem” (“the following chapters”). Computer said no, advising me to say “the chapters that blind themselves” instead.

Still though, like most online tools, it has its uses. It’s probably best to treat it like a GPS navigation system: follow its directions most of the time but not when it’s telling you to drive off a pier into the sea to get to Calais.

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Whoops!

Embarrassing when you publish a blog post you haven’t actually written yet. Apologies to anyone who saw that and was confused. There will be a slightly better version of it in a day or two…

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Vivalma

With my Tony Soper mask on, creeping through the bushes in search of rare and exotic creatures in the Portuguese language, I came across this sentence in the book I’m reading. It’s part of a description of the video footage of the big dramatic confrontation between the incompetent policeman and the unrealistic villain (I feel like I’m giving spoilers for the book review I’m planning…)

Do you like the picture, by the way? My daughter showed me how to unblur a single sentence like this the other day and I’m delighted to have learned a new skill!

Anyway, “vivalma” was a new one on me. According to Priberam it’s a relatively new word composed of the two smaller words: viva, alma. Alive and soul respectively. The grammar of the sentence is a little complicated because you have the mystery-meat pronoun “se” which I always find a little difficult to deal with but it’s just triggering the passive voice: “não vira” = had not seen, “não se vira” = had not been seen.

So the whole thing means “For fifteen seconds, not a living should had been seen in the river”.

Posted in Portuguese

When The Wind Blows

Ontem, reli uma banda desenhada dos anos oitenta chamada “Quando o Vento Soprar”. Conta a história dum casal de idosos. Lembram-se da segunda guerra mundial porém quando a terceira se desencadeia, não estão preparados apesar de seguir os conselhos do governo.

O livro foi editado durante a (primeira) guerra fria e é muito deprimente que parece tão relevante nos dias de hoje.

I usually write reviews of Portuguese books but in this case it’s the Raymond Briggs classic, When The Wind Blows

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O Dialecto Madeirense

This video was published on Twitter on Thursday (O Dia Mundial Da Língua Portuguesa). The first speaker is Francisco Louçã, an MP (“Deputado”) from the Bloco Esquerda and he’s introducing a PSD colleague named Carlos Rodrigues, saying he will now address the chamber in his “Madeiran Dialect”. Rodrigues then replies in a way everyone thinks is hilarious…

I can’t understand what he’s saying so I cheated and looked at the parliamentary transcript which is here, and you can read the surrounding context about the dialect (it’s not a dialect really, it’s an accent – mainlanders can be a bit snobbish about it though). Anyway, after reading the transcript… I was none the wiser!

Louçã: – Sr. Presidente, para surpresa da minha bancada, acaba de ser-nos comunicado que um Sr. Deputado passará a dirigir-se ao Plenário no “dialecto” madeirense. (…)

Rodrigues: – Quanto a dialecto, só tenho uma coisa a dizer-lhe, Sr. Deputado Francisco Louçã – e agora, mesmo em jeito de brincadeira: “o grado azoigou e foi atupido na manta das tanarifas”!

Grado exists in Priberam but none of the meanings seem to fit. Azoigar is in there too (although the spelling is “azougar”, because it’s one of those words that can be written with an ou or an oi) and now we’re starting to see the pattern because the definition is

[Portugal: Madeira]  Morrer (falando-se de animais).

Ah, if course – he’s replying using a madeiran expression, full of madeiran words. So, turning to a specialist madeiran page… We get the following

The dog (grado) died (azoigou) and was buried (atupido) on the pumpkin (tanarifa) terrace (manta).

Tanarifa is the sketchiest word there. The meaning is given as “boganga”, which, if you follow it, actually refers to a kind of squash/pumpkin. I’ve also seen people translating it as “alface” (lettuce) but most people seem to translate it as banana. So… I dunno… Conjure up whatever mental image you like on that one! I’ve translated manta (which normally means “shawl” or “blanket”) as terrace because in madeiran agriculture, a manta is a terrace on the side of a mountain where you can grow crops.

So… That’s all very well but what does it actually mean? Not sure. I thought maybe it was like “Os cães ladram e a caravana passa”. In other words, your yapping doesn’t really count for much. My wife, who is madeiran but hasn’t lived there for ages, didn’t recognise it either but thought it was more likely that the speaker is comparing his opponent’s argument to a dog in a race which he’s very proud of and thinks will win the race but it won’t because it’s dead and buried in the vegetable patch.

Posted in English

Eating Cyclists – Finally An Answer to the Cost of Living Crisis?

Someone I follow in twitter showed a picture of his lunch which he described as “Bolos de bacalhau com uns ciclistas, molhinho verde e um outro ‘molhinho'”. Cod-cakes, with cyclists, green sauce and another ‘sauce’. The other sauce was wine, in case you’re wondering. What about the cyclists though? It looked like a plate of black-eyed beans to me – I couldn’t see any meat that looked like it has been carved off an oil-smeared leg, but my daughter is obsessed with cannibalism at the moment (that’s normal for a teenager, right?) so my interest was piqued.

Cyclist cannibal
I ate his lycra with some feijões fradinhos and a nice chianti

Further down the comments, he explains that he’s always referred to black-eyed beans as cyclists but wasn’t sure why. Cue another bout of research… Yeah I know, “Research” is one of those words that gets misused a lot on the Internet: it sounds like it involved a lot of hard work in a library but let’s be real: it just means the person did a bit of googling. “Do your own research” says some bro on twitter who’s just skimmed a medium article written by an seventeen year old who shared the exact same prejudices as him. OK, OK, I’m not writing a PhD thesis here, or trying to get a university professor sacked, and a Google search will do, so here are the fruits of my Extensive Academic Research.

The first link I found said something about how in the old days, there were always little bugs (“Bichos”) that used to turn up in bean salads and people would describe the bugs as cyclists (eh?) and after a while the name got transferred to the beans themselves.

This sounded like absolute bollocks to me so I carried on looking and came across this link on a blog called Rodas de Viriato, which seemed a lot more believable. First of all, the guy who wrote the tweet didn’t quite have it right: the name “ciclistas” seems to have originated not with black eyed beans (“Feijão Fradinho”) but with another kind of bean native to Alentejo which doesn’t even have an official name, but which has two different nicknames – “Feijão Ciclista” or “Feijão Boneco”. Its easy to see, if you look at the pictures on the site, why it might have got those names – the pattern on it looks like a cyclist seen face-on, or like a doll. I don’t have permission to use the images and they are watermarked so I won’t reproduce them but click through and see for yourself.

Sadly, the bean is pretty rare these days – it’s a “heritage” variety and apart from this blog there is almost no mention of it anywhere. If you search for “feijão boneco” Google shows you lots of beany babies – dolls stuffed with beans, not beans with doll patterns on them. And maybe that’s why the name has transferred to the more common black-eyed bean.