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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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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.

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Expressions with Bodyparts

Birthday cake

Scheduling this post for my birthday

Here are some expressions from the exercise book. I’m really trying to do these exercises every day now because I have been slacking.

Falar nas costas = talk behind someone’s back

Ter dedo = to have a knack for something

Puxar pela cabeça = think really hard

Queimar as pestanas = read a lot

Bater com o nariz na porta = be unable to achieve a goal because the shop/house/office/whatever was shut

With that last one, when I researched it, I found that there was one page that claimed it could be used in a more figurative sense – in other words you could use it when you were denied or rebuffed in some request, or met with some sort of bureaucratic denial, maybe, but the majority said it was strictly literal: you turn up at the library hoping to find a PG Wodehouse book you’ve never read but you bang your nose on the door because it’s shut. So I asked…

Há uma expressão no meu livro “bater com o nariz na porta”. Entendo o significado mas não tenho a certeza de como se usa. Será que pode ter um significado menos literal – por exemplo “Convidei a Mafalda para jantar comigo mas bati com o nariz na porta quando ela respondeu* que já tinha combinado um jantar com o Joaquim, um halterofilista com dois metros de altura” ou só numa situação concreta** como “Eu e a Janet fomos para o restaurante às seis e meia mas batemos com os narizes na porta porque os portugueses costumam jantar mais tarde

The verdict? No, only the literal sense works. If I go to the restaurant too early and its shut, I can say we banged on the door with our nose, but if I get spurned by Mafalda in favour of her hot date with the bodybuilder, I can’t use it.

* I cleaned up the grammar a little bit following some feedback from Dani. I had tried to use a different word here – ripostar – because I found it in the novel I’m reading and thought it would be more interesting but it turned out to be too interesting for this context!

** I used “específica” but that wasn’t the best choice.

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Shake It Baby

Today’s book exercise includes the phrase “de mãos a abanar”. Checking what ciberdúvidas has to say in the subject, it seems there are two possible variants, one more literal than the other

Ficar/Ir COM mãos a abanar usually means your hands really physically shake (but note, not shaking hands with someone else that’s “apertar as mãos” – you squeeze hands with someone.

Vir/Ficar/Ir DE mãos a abanar means to end up empty handed. Just like in English you can come away empty handed, without being able to gain from a situation, or you can turn up empty handed, with nothing to offer in a situation. The actual example in the book uses vir as the verb, but of course it depends on the situation you’re describing – whether they are setting off with nothing, coming away empty handed or whatever. I’ve also seen a Brazilian page describing “chegar de mãos abanando” which is obviously related. They use it to describe a situation where someone arrives at a party without a present or a bottle of wine or whatever. According to the writer this is related to immigrants to Brazil in the 19th century. If they were unskilled their hands would shake due to inability to use the tools of the trade. Pardon my skepticism but this sounds like bollocks to me.

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Dorkest Peru

Like all romance language nerds, whatever my shortcomings as a pub quiz competitor, I am definitely going to come through if the question is “Which two countries have the same name as a bird commonly eaten at Christmas?” Yesterday, in response to a tweet of mine about covid, someone said “Calma que o perú é para o Natal…” and although I understood the words as meaning “keep calm because turkey is for Christmas”, I didn’t really get what he was driving at. I asked the Missus about it and she reckons he’s just saying “there’s no point worrying about the future” or something along those lines. Don’t worry about it till it happens. OK, that makes sense.

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Expressions from the C1 Textbook that are vaguely animal-related.

Tratar abaixo de cão – to treat someone worse than a dog, ie mistreat someone (“o meu pai tratou-me abaixo de cão” )

Quando as galinhas tiveram dentes – when hens have teeth, ie, it’ll never happen (“Ele só vai deixar de fumar quando as galinhas tiveram dentes”)

Pensar na morte de bezerra – to think about the death of the… I don’t even know the correct English word here. Heifer? Something like that. A female calf, anyway. The expression means to be miles away, thinking about something else and not tuned in to what’s going on around you (“a professora perguntou-me alguma coisa mas está a pensar na morte da bezerra”)

Ficar pior do que uma barata – to be worse than a cockroach, meaning to be angry. This doesn’t seem to be a very common expression as far as I can tell. I can only find one example online and even that is phrased slightly differently from the Textbook example (“a mãe está pior que uma barata com o filho”)

Ser feio como um bode – to be as ugly as a goat… About what you’d expect really.

Não é como vinagre que se apanham moscas – you can’t catch flies with vinegar, ie, if you want to win people over you have to give them what they want. The dicionário informal give a slightly depressing sample sentence “Com este seu gênio não vai arrumar namorado, pois não é com vinagre que se apanham moscas.” You won’t get a boyfriend by being a genius, because you can’t catch flies with vinegar. There you go, girls, there’s some good life advice for you.

Estar com a pulga atrás da orelha – To have a flea behind the ear, ie to be paranoid or to lack confidence (“normandos sempre tão rude, hoje deu-me um presente. É caso para ficar com a pulga atrás da orelha

Cair nas garras de alguém – to fall into someone’s claws, ie to be at their mercy (“O chancelor caiu nas garras da indústria alemã”)

Meter-se na boca do lobo – to put oneself in the wolf’s mouth, ie to put oneself in danger (the verb here can be cair as in the previous expression, if the person has got into danger by mistake instead of through heroism or hubris (“Não percebes que estás a meter-te na boca do lobo?”)

Meter o rabo entre as pernas – to put ones tail between ones legs, ie to admit defeat or accept humiliation (“depois de levar uma pancada de Will Smith, Chris Rock meteu o seu rabo entre as pernas”)

Meter a pata na poça – to put the hoof in the puddle, which is equivalent to the English expression “to out your foot in it”, ie, make a mistake (“Chris Rock meteu a pata na poça ao aludir à falta de cabelos da mulher de Will Smith”)

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More Gatos, Even More Pingados

Second sighting of one of my favourite expressions: gatos pingados. I mentioned this one back on 2017, when I read it in a short story, so I recognised it straight away, referring to the Azov battalion (the bogeymen in Putin’s anti-Ukraine propaganda) as “half a dozen wet cats without the slightest influence in the country”. Wet cats, drippy cats, basically stragglers, lonely people. You’ve also got a second expression, much more familiar to English speakers “cereja no topo do bolo” (the cherry on top of the cake)

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Diz O Roto Ao Nu

I mentioned the “Parra” map in reddit but in the course of chuckling about someone else’s typo, I typed “mãos” in place of “mais”. Someone replied with “diz o roto ao nu”. Obviously an expression of some sort. Apparently its full version is “Diz o roto ao nu, porque não te vestes tu?” I get the gust if this but wasn’t sure what “Roto” meant because it has a ton of different meanings. In this case, though, it means someone whose clothes are all raggedy. The ragged-clothed guy said to the naked guy, why don’t you get dressed?

Of course, they both need to get dressed but we can’t always see our own faults. It’s a little like the pot calling the kettle black. In fact, there’s an even more similar expression meaning the same thing: “diz o tacho ao sertã, tens o cu preto” where a tacho is a small, cylindrical pan and a sertã is a big, deep pan like a skillet or a casserole dish or something. Both have had their arses blackened by exposure ginthe flame.

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Expressões da Natureza

Doing homework from the new book. Here we go with idiomatic expressions that have to do with nature. I’ll skip all the obvious ones. Tirar o cavalo da chuva is in there for example. It’s an old favourite but I’ve mentioned it about a hundred times already.

  • Frio de rachar – splitting cold. Very, very cold.
  • Arranjar lenha para se queimar – to gather wood to burn oneself. Basically to create difficulties for yourself
  • Chamar-lhe um figo – To call something a fig. To eat /serve something you really like. Can also mean that you covet something.
  • Mandar à fava – to send someone to the bean. To send someone away or make it obvious you want them to get lost
  • Com a cabeça na lua – with one s head in the moon. Equivalent to “with one’s head in the clouds” in English
  • Mandar às urtigas to send someone to the nettles. To treat something as unimportant
  • Sol de pouca dura – Sun that doesn’t last long. Something good but transitory
  • Ter névoa nos olhos – To have fog in one’s eyes. To have blurred vision. This can be used both for the literal blurry vision but also figuratively when you don’t understand something
  • Aos quatro ventos – To the four winds. In all directions – just like in English, if you scatter something to the four winds.
  • Estar com um grão na asa – To have a grain in the wing. A state of mild euphoria or tipsiness

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Vontade, Desejo

This is a short text trying to fit in as many expressions of will, intention or desire as possible. The expressions are from the Camões Institute’s C1 course. Thanks to Dani for the corrections.

Está nos meus planos fazer uma corrida daqui a três semanas. Tenho ideias de melhorar o meu desempenho da última corrida. Morro de vontade de manter uma velocidade alta durante a corrida inteira. Não suporto (a idea de) que* os meus tempos possam voltar a ser de mais do que uma hora como nas corridas do verão passado. Fiquei eufórico quando corri dez quilómetros em 55 minutos em outubro. Claro que preferia correr ainda mais rápido! Tenho ganas de ganhar a corrida mas não é provável e no fim das contas, deliro com cada corrida na qual ultrapasso os meus limites. Um dia claro cairia muito bem, e viria mesmo a calhar** se houvesse um vento forte nas minhas costas. Queira Deus que o clima*** esteja bom porque morro de aborrecimento quando corro em condições cinzentas e ventosas.

*=”I can’t bear (the idea) that…” This construction needs a noun immediately after it and when the verb does come, it’s subjunctive.

**=”vir a calhar” is a weird one and I think I got it wrong in the original text. Calha is a gutter so I took “vir a calhar” as something negative but it’s more like “being channelled in the right direction” so, like “cair muito bem” it has a sense of things turning out well by good luck. There’s a ciberdúvidas article about the expression if you want to know more. Anyway, the long and the short of it is, I made such a mess of this sentence that the marker didn’t really get what I was driving at at all 😔

***=I wanted to write “o tempo” but since that means “time” as well as “weather” it seems like it would be super-confusing here! Clima is more like “climate” than weather of course, so it sounds a little bit off.