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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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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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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.

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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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Mother’s Day /Labour Day

I’m a day late with this so I’ll backdate it: Feliz Dia da Mãe to all Portuguese mothers, and Feliz Dia Do Trabalhador to all members of the Classe Operária (Portuguese working class)

If you’re both a mother and a labourer, make sure the people in your household bake you two cakes because you’ve earned it.

I was talking to m’wife this morning about May Day and how we don’t really register it as a big deal here apart from having a bank holiday and an excuse to sit in the garden (weather allowing) reading and drinking. If we think about it hard enough we might remember that there’s a socialist celebration known as May Day which happens to fall roughly on the same date as the older, pagan May Day festival, but there isn’t usually a lot of fuss about it. We don’t drive tanks down Pall Mall like the Soviets would have, and Hallmark don’t sell Tony Benn greetings cards or Hallowe’en-style costumes depicting the Spectre of Communism haunting Europe. It does seem to be a bigger deal on Portugal though, with its socialist tradition, dating back to the resistance to the Novo Estado. In fact, according to this tweet from the Assembleia da República, almost the first thing the revolutionaries did after overthrowing the Fascists on April 25th was to give themselves a holiday a few days later. Nice!

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Dia De S Receber

I have been listening to other Xutos and Pontapés songs after getting over my mental block with A Minha Casinha the other day, I like this one: Dia de S Receber. I’m not a catholic so the title is a little bit alien to me, but saints’ days seem to be more of a thing in Portugal than they are in britain, at least if my Twitter feed is anything to go by. the S in the title is short for Sao (“Saint”) so São Receber means “Saint Receive” and that means o Dia de Sao Receber is payday, right? I’m not wrong about that am I? I hope not or this translation is going to be a right old mess….

This is the best kind of video, by the way: It has the lyrics appearing as part of the video, not just as inaccurate subtitles, which is really helpful for us learners. If you want to find out more about them you shouldn’t find it hard: there’s loads of their stuff on Youtube, on Spotify and all the usual places. I’m sort of intrigued by a book I came across on bertrand’s website too: there’s a comic book about them with a free CD. It’s part of a series including eight well-known portuguese bands. I wouldn’t go out of my way to get it but I might bung it in the basket next time I’m shopping for books, I shouldn’t be doing any such thing of course, because I’m on a book-buying ban, but it’s nearly my birthday so I might just treat myself.

Dia de S receber

Aaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiii a minha vida / Oh my life!
Aaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiii a minha vida / Oh my life!
Embora falar da arte / Let’s talk about art
Da arte de sobreviver / About the art of survival
Daquela que se descobre / Of what we find out
Quando não há que comer / When there’s nothing to eat
Há os que roubam ao banco / There are those who rob banks
Os que não pagam por prazer / Those who don’t pay for pleasure
Os que pedem emprestado / Those who borrow money
E os que fazem render / And those who earn money
Este dia a dia é duro / This day-to-day is hard
É duro de se levar / It’s hard to get up
É de casa pró trabalho / It’s from house to work
E do trabalho pró lar / And from work to home
Leva assim uma vida / A life could get taken up that way
Na boínha* sem pensar / Fair enough if you don’t think about it
Mas há-de chegar o dia / But the day has to come
Em que tens de me pagar / When you have to pay me
Ai é o dia / Oh** it’s the day
De S. Receber / The day of São Receber
Dia de S. Receber / Day of São Receber
Já não chega o que nos / It’s not enough what
Tiram à hora de pagar / They take from us on payday
É difícil comer solas / It’s difficult to eat
Estufadas ao jantar / stewed shoe soles for dinner
De histórias mal contadas / By badly-told stories
Anda meio mundo a viver / Half the world is living
Enquanto o outro meio / While the other half
Fica à espera de receber / Are waiting to get paid
Ai é o dia / Oh it’s the day
De S. Receber / The day of São Receber
Dia de S. Receber / Day of São Receber
Aaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiii a minha vida / Oh my life!
Aaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiii a minha vida / Oh my life!***
É assim esta diálise / That’s how it is, the dialysis****
Entre o deve e o haver / between owing and having
Sei que para o patrão custa / I know it’s hard for my boss
Enfrentar este dever / to face this duty
O dinheiro para mim não conta / Money doesn’t count for me
Eu trabalho por prazer / I work for pleasure
Mas o dia que eu mais gosto / But the day I like the best
É o dia de S. Receber / Is the day of São Receber

* You won’t find boínha in the dictionary. It’s just a diminutive though: Na boa + inha = na boínha. Ciberdúvidas says it shouldn’t have an accent but this is how I found it on the lyrics page so I’m leaving it in.

**Ai is an exclamation like “Oh!”, not to be confuised with “Aí” which means “There”. If you look at the video, it’s the same word he’s shouting at the beginning and in the middle as “AAAAAAAAIIIIII”

*** In the video, when he gets to the middle of the song at the second round of “AAAAAAAIIIIIII” etc, he adds a couple of extras in: first, a nursery rhyme called “Atirei o pau ao gato” (“I threw the stick at the cat”) which has been criticised for cruelty to animals (I wrote a blog post about this ages ago but it’s pretty much what you’d expect from people who have nothing better to do than to closely analyse nursery rhymes). Secondly, there’s a bit of swearing: “A puta da minha vida” – “My bitch of a life”, which seems to be quite a common expression. For a start, it’s used in the title of this very good collection of essays by Miguel Esteves Cardoso, which I read a few years ago when I was at B1 level and even then found very easy to read and very funny.

**** Weird word choice, this. According to Priberam it really does only have that medical meaning. I wondered if it was a misprint – maybe some other word meaning “dichotomy” or “dualism” or something but it’s right there in the video, so I asked Mrs L about it and she says yeah, it does just seem to be that idea some idea that there’s a medical procedure required to separate out the money owed and the money you have.

Posted in English, Portuguese


Here’s a corrected text from a couple of days ago with some additional notes. The theme is this weird new Mad-Libs policy about refugees that the British government came up with just before Easter and then were shocked… shocked! – when every vicar in the land used their easter sermons to say it wasn’t what Jesus would have done.

Pensei em escrever sobre a nova política do partido conservador face à imigração de refugiados mas é tão ridículo que, contado, ninguém acredita. A questão da imigração e dos refugiados (não são iguais mas são semelhantes até certo ponto) é complicado e cada país tem de pensar bem antes de fazer uma política que passa a prova de justiça e de compaixão, mas o nosso governo não se importa.

Amazingly this text didn’t need any corrections (it’s not often that happens!) but Dani told me more about the phrase “Contado Ninguém Acredita”. I only know it from the Deolinda song

… But it’s also the Portuguese translation of the name of the American movie “Stranger than Fiction”.

It’s usually said as part of a larger expression “Isto só visto porque contado ninguém acredita” which basically means “You have to see it to believe it. There used to be a TV series in the nineties called Isto Só Vídeo which was a sort of Portuguese equivalent of those cheap shows where people send in their home videos of terrible disasters – falling off bikes or getting whacked in the face by a swing or whatever – and you wonder how long they had to spend on A&E to bring the nation 30 seconds of amusement. I’m thinking of Jeremy Beadle because my cultural references are very out of date but I’m pretty sure they are still a thing now and of course YouTube is full of them. Anyway here’s what it looks like.

How’s that? I’ve gone from the refugee crisis to Jeremy Beadle in 5 paragraphs. Not bad eh?

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Primavera – Amália Rodrigues

Well, I mentioned it’s spring here in the northern hemisphere, so here’s my attempt at a translation of Primavera. I can’t find any videos of Amália singing it but I’ll drop a live recording of Mariza’s version here for those who don’t know it.

Ai funesta Primavera!

Todo o amor que nos prendera /All the love that had stuck to us
Como se fora de cera /As if it were wax
Se quebrava e desfazia /Broke apart and disintegrated
Ai, funesta Primavera! /Oh terrible spring!
Quem me dera, quem nos dera /If only I, if only we
Ter morrido nesse dia /Had died on that day
Ai, funesta Primavera /Oh terrible spring
Quem me dera, quem nos dera /If only I, if only we
Ter morrido nesse dia /Had died on that day

E condenaram-me a tanto /And they condemned me so much
Viver comigo o meu pranto / To live with myself and with my mourning
Viver, viver e sem ti / To live to live without you
Vivendo sem no entanto / But living without
Eu me esquecer desse encanto /forgetting that enchantment
Que nesse dia perdi / That I lost in that day
Vivendo sem no entanto / But living without
Eu me esquecer desse encanto /forgetting that enchantment
Que nesse dia perdi / That i lost on that day

Pão duro da solidão / The stale bread of loneliness
É somente o que nos dão / Is all the give us
O que nos dão a comer / What they give us to eat
Que importa que o coração / What does it matter if the heart
Diga que sim ou que não / Says yes or no
Se continua a viver / If it keeps on living
Que importa que o coração /What does it matter if the heart
Diga que sim ou que não / Says yes or no
Se continua a viver /If it keeps on living

Todo o amor que nos prendera /All the love that had stuck to us
Se quebrara e desfizera / Broke apart and disintegrated
Em pavor se convertia / It converted itself into dread
Ninguém fale em Primavera /Nobody talk about spring
Quem me dera, quem nos dera / If only I, if only we
Ter morrido nesse dia / Had died on that day
Ninguém fale em Primavera /nobody talk about spring
Quem me dera, quem nos dera / If only I if only we
Ter morrido nesse dia / Had died on that day

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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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Lisboa Não é Hollywood

Here’s an attempt at translating the song “Lisboa Nao é Hollywood” by Os Azeitonas. It doesn’t seem to haave a translation on lyricstranslate so I thought I’d make one. Seems like quite a simple song but it’s really, really tricky!

Chega Cândida de capeline 
Cândida arrives wearing a capeline*
Como ela respira saúde**
She's glowing with health
Quase que parece a Marilyn
She almost looks like Marilyn
Ao chegar*** a Hollywood
On her arrival in Hollywood
Mas sem tapetes encarnados
But with no red carpets
Sob os seus pés de dama
Under her ladylike feet
Os seus sapatinhos delicados
Her delicate little shoes
Apenas pisam na lama
only step in the mud
Lisboa é paleio de Aljube****
Lisbon is well known to criminals
Por entre ruas, esquinas
Among its streets and corners
Também tem suas colinas, mas
It has its hills too, but
Lisboa não É Hollywood
Lisboa isn't Hollywood
Lá vai Cândida a correr atrás
There goes Cândida, chasing
Seu peito diz sorria
Her spirit***** says smile
Mas nos seus dentes nunca brilha o flash
But the flash of a photograph has never
Da fotografia
Lit up her teeth
Lá vai Cândida a mandar beijinhos
There goes Cândida, blowing kisses
Com o seu jeito rude
In her rude way
Como quem atalha caminho
Like someone taking a shortcut
Para chegar a Hollywood
To arrive in Hollywood
Lisboa é paleio de Aljube****
Lisbon is well known to criminals
Por entre ruas, esquinas
Among its streets and corners
Também tem suas colinas, mas
It has its hills too, but
Lisboa não É Hollywood
Lisboa isn't Hollywood
Como ela cai na trama
How she falls into the trap******
E vai esbanjando******* virtude
And squanders her virtue
Pelo passeio da fama mas
On the walk of fame, but
Lisboa não É Hollywood
Lisboa isn't Hollywood
Olha Cândida na solidão
Look at Cândida, all alone
De capeline, rouge e baton
In her Capeline, rouge and lipstick
Não foi parar ao panteão
She didn't end up in the pantheon
Morreu na vala comum
She died in the gutter
Lisboa é paleio de Aljube****
Lisbon is well-known to criminals
Por entre ruas, esquinas
Among its streets, and corners
Também tem suas colinas, mas
It has its hills too, but
Lisboa não É Hollywood
Lisboa isn't Hollywood

* = It’s a kind of hat apparently. Never heard of it!

**=Respira Saúde = Literally “breathes health” so visibly healthy, confident and in good form, not just “is healthy”. Researching this on the web, there’s some use of it in a more loreal way, meaning “breathing in a healthy way”, eg giving up smoking, but it is used as an expression too.

*** = I wrote about this “Ao + infinitive” construction a couple of months back and I seem to have seen it everywhere since.

**** = This line is a real enigma. The word aljube with a small letter can be a dark prison or a cavern. The fact that it’s written with a capital letter in all the sources I can find seems to imply that it’s a reference to A Cadeia do Aljube, which was the name of a prison (cadeira) that has been in existence since the peninsula was colonised by the muslim imperialists in the 8th century. The name Aljube comes from the arabic for a well. After the reconquista, its use changed but certainly by the twentieth century it was being used for political prisoners of the fascist Estado Novo, and had a pretty terrible reputation. These days, it’s a museum of resistance and liberty. “Paleio” means gossip or small talk, so the sentence “Lisboa é paleio de Aljube” doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. My wife didn’t know what they were driving at. I asked around on reddit and had four different replies, all different. The two closest guesses were along the lines of “a rumour in the prison”, meaning it was something lowlifes and criminals talk about, which is why I’ve translated it as “well known to criminals” but others have suggested “A trick in a cavern”, or even “pillow talk” (because Aljube can also mean alcove, and “de alcova” in Brazilian Portuguese can imply something relating to sex). Meh, its slightly odd that there’s a lyric like this that no two listeners can agree on the meaning, but there are plenty of songs on English that are obscure and ambiguous so I suppose I shouldn’t be that surprised!

***** = Not sure about this one either. “her chest says smile” just sounds weird but one of the lesser meanings of peito is “ânimo” so I’m interpreting it as she’s making an effort of will to smile…? But at least one of the people who replied to my question about paleio said that there was an implication that Cândida is a prostitute so maybe there’s some sort of implication that people are smiling at her cleavage…?

****** = Another iffy one: Trama can be a thread, either literal or in the sense of a unifying plot-line of a book (in fact, I think I used it in a a book review a couple of days ago!) or even a tram line. I wondered if we were supposed to imagine her literally tripping on a tram track but it didn’t seem to fit well with the next line.

******* = fantastic! I only learned this word a week or two ago, doing one of Paulo Freixinho’s old crosswords and here it is again!

By the way, I see Os Azeitonas are candidates for this year’s Eurovision but they’ve come down a long way since they lost their most talented dude, Miguel Araújo, and the song is vanilla AF.