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Uma Maria-Rapaz

Ooh, I was intrigued by this passage in the book I’m reading. Are you ready for a couple of new expressions and some incoherent ramblings about gender? You are? Then come with me!

Had his colleague noticed that he admired her?

But what creature had bitten him? He had never thought about Marta that way. He had always seen her as like a Maria-rapaz, a partner who, although she was a woman, was able to talk like a man.

Sex is like that. It changes everything completely.

There are a couple of cool new things here. First of all, “que bicho lhe mordera” (“what beast had bitten him”) could be taken literally – there are certainly sites online that use some version of that as a headline to inform readers of how to figure out the origin of an insect bite or sting. In this case, though, it’s figurative. It just means something like “what had got into him?” or “why was he acting so strangely”.

The second phrase is even better. “Maria-rapaz”, as you can probably guess from the context, is a tomboy. According to the Wikipedia entry, there are quite a few different versions of this idea in popular usage, such as “moleca” and “maria-homem”. The meaning of it seems pretty congruent with the English equivalent. The Portuguese article is mercifully straightforward (at the time of writing), in contrast with the English version which has been larded with gender-studies buzzwords because, obviously, girls can’t just play with skateboards without well-meaning adults sticking labels on them. Ugh.

As the article says, the feminine male equivalent – “maricas” is much more likely to be seen as implying that the person is gay, which isn’t present in the idea of a tomboy, and – male gender stereotypes being more rigid – it’s generally seen as a more negative, derogatory word. There isn’t a Wikipedia page for maricas but Priberam sets out the different meanings pretty clearly.

I think that’s all for today. I had an extended side-note about that word “bicho” in the first expression, that was going to unpack the beastliness but I think I’ve decided it needs a blog post of its own so I’m going to do part 2 in this discussion tomorrow.

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Don’t Risk it for the Biscate

Episode 8963 of the series “words that mean wildly different things on different sides of the Atlantic”

Biscate seems like a useful word to have in your back pocket, but use it with care. In Portugal it refers to a side job, side huddle, or short term job. In the world of the gig economy, it seems like a good one to know.

Olha, aquele é mecânico nos estaleiros, mas faz uns “biscates” de electricidade por fora!

When this came up in online discussion, some Brazilian contributors found this funny because that’s not what it means in Brazil at all. Over there it refers to a woman who has lots of sexual partners – so equivalent to slut or slag or other derogatory terms.

A menina que ficava com todos garotos do colégio era chamada de biscate.

Navigating slang is more complicated in Portuguese than in English because there seem to be quite a lot of examples of differences like this.

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I saw someone on Twitter signing off a tweet with “abreijos” which is obviously a mixture of “beijos” (kisses) and “abraços” (hugs). I love it! I did a post a few years ago about equivalents of “frenemy“, and in general I am very pro-splicing, but this was a new one on me.

Looking around for other examples, I found plenty, including these ladies who were less impressed with the idea of these frankenwords…

Abreijos - screenshot from Twitter

But woah, there’s a bonus one in there: namorido, which looks like a mix of “namorado” (boyfriend) and “marido” (husband). Seems to just mean a long-term, live-in boyfriend who hasn’t actually bothered with the whole ring thing. I asked about it on reddit and everyone agrees it’s a neologism from Brazil. True, it looks like everyone using Namorido on twatter is Brazilian, but Abreijos is used widely by Portuguese tweeps, so I am definitely going to pull that one out when I get an opportunity.

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Aparrantly This Is Swearing

Portuguese twitter is very amused by this Instagram Post from “Lover of Geography”

For those not in the know, the actual palavrão here is “porra“, not “parra”.

Palavrão? Don’t I mean “asneira”? Palavrão is a swear word, whereas an asneira is any bad thing. You can “dizer asneiras” (say bad things) but you can also fazer asneiras (do bad things) so an asneira isn’t necessarily a swear word, it depends on context. The other relevant word is “calão” which just means slang.

By the way, why is Fuck the only one of these considered rude enough to have an asterisk? Or do they mean that English people actually say “Effasteriskseekay”? I wouldn’t put it past some people to be honest.

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Trolling Mark Zuckerberg

Just to demonstrate the incredible educational potential of social media, how else would I have learned this new word?


(origem obscura)
nome feminino

[Portugal, Calão]  Esperma.

“meita”, in Dicionário Priberam da Língua Portuguesa [em linha], 2008-2021, [consultado em 29-10-2021].

Selada De Fruta had a take on it too, but I already knew this word so it wasn’t as useful

Posted in Portuguese

A Semiótica Do Palavrão

(Description of an article about swearing in Porto: there are some grammar and vocab pointers down at the bottom for anyone who needs them. The portuguese is uncorrected and might contain errors but hopefully not many! Thanks to Dani and “Iznogoud” of the r/WriteStreakPT subreddit for helping me tidy up a few errors in the original text)

Acabo de ler um artigo no site do jornal Público intitulado “A Semiótica do Palavrão“. O autor, Paulo Moura, defende que a língua do Porto é rica porque a gente de lá usa muitas expressões com palavrões. Estas expressões não se trata de insultos como seria noutras regiões, mas sim de uma filosofia da vida. Acho que ele está a brincar, ou pelo menos está a escrever numa maneira ligeira. Parece que ele tem muito carinho pelos cidadãos daquela cidade e a sua maneira de falar. Apesar das obscenidades, acha-os acolhedores e simpáticos.

Já ouvi falar desta tendência portuense de usar palavras feias. Tenho uma amiga lisboeta que considera os portuenses bárbaros por isso mesma! Fica escandalizada quando vê vídeos online ou programas televisivas de tripeiros e o seu calão.

Notes on the text.

I’ve referred to Porto residents in three different ways

  • “a gente de lá” (the people from there). Gente is a collective noun so it’s treated as a singular (“a gente… usa” instead of “a gente… usam”)
  • “portuenses” is just a standard adjective meaning “from Porto”
  • “tripeiros” means tripe sellers, and has a couple of origin stories, both dating back about 600 years into the early history of portuguese navigation. You can read more about the most common version here

If you’re reading the article, hopefullly you’ll realise that the missing words are all rude

  • c=cu in every case, meaning “arse”. There are ruder c words in Portuguese like “caralho” (cock), “cagar” (verb meaning to shit) or “cona” (cunt) but I don’t think any of these are the c in any of the expressions on the page
  • p=puta which is a word for a prostitute. You occasionally see the abbreviation pqp online, meaning “puta que pariu” or “puta que te pariu” which is the whore who gave birth to you
  • b= I’m less sure about this one. “Bico” possibly? That just means beak but has a lot of alternative meanings, one of which is “Prática sexual que consiste em estimular o pénis com a boca ou com a língua. = FELAÇÃO”

Checking the theory in the last post, dealing with gender of – ão nouns, just to make sure it isn’t leading me astray:

  • Palavrão (swear-word) – masc: fits the rule
  • Expressão (expression) – fem: fits the rule
  • Razão (reason) – fem: doesn’t fit the rule, but it’s listed as one of the exceptions in the article so that’s no surprise
  • Regiao (region) – fem: fits the rule
  • Cidadão (citizen) – masc: fits the rule
  • Calão (slang) – masc: fits the rule
  • Felação (fellatio) – fem: fits the rule

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Quite interested to see this word “esquerdoide” or “esquerdoido” pop up a few times on Portuguese language twitter on both sides of the Atlantic. It seems to be the equivalent of the word “leftard” used by obnoxious maga types. It’s used in more-or-less the same way: identify some stupid thing said or done by one person or a small group of people on the other side. If it’s apocryphal or even if you just made it up, it doesn’t matter much. Then generalise that to characterise everyone in the other party as sharing the same opinion and being a bunch of leftards /esquerdoidos who aren’t smart like what we is. Sad.

The guy in the original tweet here is some Bolsonaro fartcatcher, so in American terms, this is like – I dunno – Stephen Miller, or Zac Goldsmith in the UK, mouthing off and one of their supporters jumping in and going “Yes, yes, they are all crazy aren’t they! Shit in my mouth please” or whatever people say when they wholeheartedly support the government in the face of all the evidence and are willing to let them get away with absolutely anything.

Side-note. “Coringa vírus” is presumably a reference to the movie Joker which is called Coringa in Brazil.

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A portuguese teacher I know has started a new informal lesson package where she lets the student choose a TV show, film, book, album, or whatever and you watch/ listen/ read/ whatever together, screen-sharing over skype and she explains the cultural references and obscure phrases and so on. I thought I’d give it a whirl so I chose Salvador Martinha’s Netflix Special “Na Ponta Da Língua”, which I’ve listened to before but ages ago and at the time “não entendi patavina” as they say.

TBH, I’m still struggling because like most stand-up comedians, he talks quickly, uses a lot of slang and so on. I got a pretty good chunk of it though – maybe 70%. I already knew a lot of the cultural references: Casper the Friendly Ghost, The Gypsy Kings, knocking on the cieling with a broom and pillow-fights are all universal experiences, and I’d come across DAMA (An unbearably bland Portuguese boy band), in my search for decent portuguese music, but they weren’t it.

It was a bit embarrassing at times though because I’d underestimated the awkward factor of having so much rudity in the dialogue. She explained “orgia” (an orgy, obviously) and Picha (“dick”: like english, there are more words for this than there are for snow in Innuit) but discreetly passed over other bits like “começaram sacar um broche”. I got from the context that this was probably a bit off colour. Sure enough “um broche”, which just means “a brooch” has a calão meaning too – common enough to be in my paper dictionary: “blowjob”. So, I’m glad I left it, really.


Saving other tips & vocabulary for later references:

Dakar – just the race. It’s a marathon, I think…?

The Aparição de Fátima… ask your priest

Bollycao – dodgy looking prepackaged cakes – they look like some sort of mutant hybrid between a twinkie and a swiss roll. They used to come with a free sticker (“cromo” – also mentioned) but not these days.

Elvas is a place in Portugal and so is Covilhã.

MEO is a cheap cable/phone package that has a few seconds delay on it – hence the joke about someone clapping at the wrong time

Picha = Dick. Like in english, there are more words for this than for snow in innuit.

Macacos – can mean bogeys as well as monkeys

Lixívia – some sort of bleach or disinfectant brand

Top = very cool

50 = average price of… Cocaine, I think, although to be honest, I’m not sure if it’s that or Coca Cola. I probably need to go back and watch that bit again

Pitas = teenagers

Caipirinha = a kind of cocktail from Brazil. You probably knew that already but I don’t get out much.

Rebenta a bolha – literally means ‘burst the bubble’ but it’s something kids say when they’re playing out and they have to suspend the game – say while one of them has dinner.

O jogo ao sério – a game where you have to stare each other out and make faces and the first one to laugh or show teeth loses.