Posted in English, Portuguese

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.

Posted in English

A Neuterful Mind

Hm, I’m really scraping the bottom of the barrel with these neuter puns aren’t I? (previous examples here and here)

For anyone who was interested in the issue of well-meaning-but-annoying young activists trying to force a neuter gender into Portuguese grammar as a way of describing either individuals who self-describe as gender-neutral, or mixed groups of male and female people, here’s an example in a meme of someone trying to use it in a group situation.

I have to ask myself if it’s real or a joke. If it’s real then Marcelo probably should have said “convidades” to match the adjective to his openening noun. I’m with Mariana, Lucas, Karina and the rest in this one though I think. Its hard enough trying to remember that saucepans have gender without also having to remember that some people have one of 67 imaginary ones.

Posted in Portuguese

Tense, Nervous Headache

Examples of high-octane verb usage based on a C1 exercise that I really screwed up.

Se ela não chegar, depois telefono-lhe.

Lamento que o seu filho não tenha ido à escola a horas na semana passada.

Não acho que a minha filha queira ir à escola hoje.

Caso ela venha tarde, a mãe dela preocupa-se.

Se ela vier tarde, a mãe dela preocupar-se-ás.

Quando for para a universidade ela terá passado os exames escolares todos.

Oxalá ele veja o filme francês que o professor deu como tpc mas acho que não está nada interessado.

Vou perguntar-lhe como se diz “LOL” em português

Se dissesses aos jovens de hoje que vivias num caixote sem água nem comida em* criança eles nunca acreditariam.

Se me disseres que estás a pensar em estudar apicultura, é garantido que faço um trocadilho qualquer sobre “exames de enxames”.

Há quem traga uma bandeira do UE para o concerto..

Ainda não sei se eles touxeram a amiga da filha com eles.

Apesar de ele já ter feito muitos pudins o de ontem não foi um êxito.

Será melhor se vocês beberem um copo de vinho e se esquecerem de tudo.

Diga eu ou que disser**, não me desatem deste mastro.

Ainda que ela ouça mal, está sempre ao pé de mim de cada vez que abro um saco de ração***.

Lamentamos que o senhor não tivesse pedido ajuda quando a cobra entrou no quarto.

Não repitas o que o pai disse na sala de aula.

Falas tão baixo. Podes repetir?

Ainda não faço ideia de quando ela parte para Edimburgo.

A picture that has nothing to do with Portuguese verb conjugations.
Tense nervous headache? Try conjugatin

*=em, not como. In child, not as a child.

**=I managed to get this doubly-wrong. I wrote “diga ou que eu dizer”

***=I wrote “lata de ração” but ração is dried food. Tinned cat/dog food is “comida de gato/cão”

Posted in English, Portuguese

Fazer’s On Stun

Another C1 Exercise: uses of Fazer with a preposition

Não te faças de sonso. Diz-me! Passaste ou não passaste? (Fazer-se de = to our on an act – so this first sentence is like “don’t act all coy”)

Não estudei e isso fez com que chumbasse no exame. (fazer com que = to have a consequence. Note the use of the subjunctive after it)

Os meus pais queriam ir de férias durante o período letivo, por isso mandaram um email que a fazer de conta que eu estava doente (fazer de conta = to pretend)

Eu também, fiz por aprender mas não consegui reter nada do assunto. (fazer por = to make an effort)

Precisas de trabalhar e fazer pela vida (Fazer pela vida = to make a living)

Tens febre. Queres uma tigela de canja? O que é que posso fazer por ti? (this Fazer por isn’t really a comound verb. He’s just offering to do something for the person)

Farei um grande esforço para ajudar* o meu vizinho que quer pintar o quarto da filha mas não consegue mover os móveis. (Also not a comound verb. He’s just making an effort to help. This sentence and the one above are good examples of the subtle differences between por and para, I think. You’d translate both as “for” in English but in this case, the person is making an effort in order to help, so you use para, whereas in the previous paragraph you’re doing something as a result of their need, so it’s por)

Quando era sócio do clube de drama, fiz de príncipe da Dinamarca numa peça chamada… Hum… Hamster ou algo do género. (Fazer de = to act like, to represent)

Fiz o relatório da câmara municipal (This fazer de isn’t a compound verb – I just made the report about the local government)

Este texto faz parte da minha aprendizagem de português. (Fazer parte de =to be a part of something)

I feel you, Scotty (image: Swear Trek)
Posted in English

Come+A’s you are

Closely related to the post about vir and chegar: what’s the difference between “vir a saber” and “vir saber”? Well, I’m glad you asked!

Vir a saber, as you’ll know if you read “The Spy Who Chegged Me” is a way of saying that you came to know something, perhaps in a slightly roundabout way, by chance, but the light dawned and then you knew.

Vir Saber is more like “I came to find out”.

This is good because I had been wondering how to interpret a line in one of the poems (it’s a song, actually) that I learned a week or two back. the people in the next room either “finally got to know about us” or “came to find out about us”. Well, now I know so here we go with a translation of the whole thing

PortugueseEnglish
Bem te avisei, meu amor
Que não podia dar certo
Que era coisa de evitar
I gave you fair warning, my love
That this wasn’t going to turn out well
And it was something best avoided
Como eu, devias supor
Que, com gente ali tão perto
Alguém fosse reparar
Like me, you have to suppose
That with people so nearby
Someone was going to notice
Mas não
Fizeste beicinho
E como numa promessa
Ficaste nua para mim
But no
You made a pouty face
And as if in a promise
Got naked for me
Pedaço de mau caminho
Onde é que eu tinha a cabeça
Quando te disse que sim
Bit of a wrong turn
Where was my head at
When I said yes to you
Embora tenhas jurado
Discreta permanecer
Já que não estávamos sós
Although you had sworn
To remain discreet
Since we weren’t alone
Ouvindo na sala ao lado
Teus gemidos de prazer
Vieram saber de nós
Hearing in the room next door
Your moans of pleasure
They came to find out about us
Nem dei pelo que aconteceu
Mas mais veloz e mais esperta
Só te viram de raspão
I didn’t even know what had happened
But being faster and smarter
They only caught a brief glimpse of you
A vergonha passei-a eu
Diante da porta aberta
Estava de calças na mão
I went through the shame
In front of the open door
With my trousers in my hand

It’s great isn’t it! Lots of really good stuff in there. The one line that I really had trouble understanding was the first line of the last stanza “A vergonha passei-a eu” which seems like he’s saying “I passed her the shame” as if he were trying to blame it all on the girl, but that doesn’t make sense for all sorts of reasons. The “-a” on the end of passei is actually referring to “a vergonha”. So it’s like “The shame, I passed through it”. Normally in conversation you’d say “passei pela vergonha” but poetic license applies. Here’s the full thing. I’ve probably posted it on here before but I just love it so much it’s worth repeating.

Posted in English

The Spy Who Chegged Me

Structures I’ve seen in books and never been quite sure how to parse. According to Ciberdúvidas,

Vir + A + Infinitive

Is a periphrastic form of a verb. Wait, wait, hold it right there, what is a periphrastic form? It just means you use extra words to give the verb a slightly different dynamic or even to change the tense. In english it’s things like “You shall go to the ball” or “I do like chips”. It might change the verb’s tense or it might just make it sound more complete and more dynamic. Maybe like in English: How do you come to be in a place like this? It has the sense of ending up somewhere by chance, and it sounds more interesting than “How did you get here?” or “Why are you here?”

There’s an example in the book I’m reading now. Talking about Bolsonaro’s attempts to blame minorities for everything Ricardo Araújo Pereira says “Acredito que a gente ainda venha a descobrir que há inúmeros gays negros e índios na Lava Jato”.

Chegar + A + Infinitive

“Chegar a”, on the other hand is more like “finally managed to…”. It’s stressing the end of the action coming after a long time or a strenuous effort. Searching for an example similar to the one above, I hit on this one which is from a religious website talking how, after a lot of prayer, the believer can finally come to understand the project that God has laid out:

A oração também se torna caminho para o discernimento vocacional, não só porque Jesus mesmo convidou a rogar ao dono da messe, mas porque é somente na escuta de Deus que o crente pode chegar a descobrir o projeto que Deus mesmo traçou: no mistério contemplado, o crente descobre a própria identidade, «escondida com Cristo em Deus»

Posted in Portuguese

Como Fazer Flexões de Braços

Começa na posição prona, com os pés juntos e com todo o teu peso no peito.

Coloca os mãos no chão, tão distantes* quanto for confortável (se estiverem mais distantes uma da outra, os músculos do peito terão de trabalhar mais, se estiverem mais perto**, os triceps braquiais irão retirar mais do treino)

Estende os braços devagar de modo a que*** o peito fique erguido do chão, até os cotovelos ficarem direitos. Mantém os abdominais contraídos**** e a coluna vertebral neutra.

Abaixa o corpo de novo para o chão.

Descansa. Já sofreste o suficiente. Precisas é***** de um café e da empatia da tua família.

*=Interesting one this. I made this singular and thought of “distant” as applying to the situation as a whole, but of course there are two feet so the adjective has to change too. Odd how little differences in the language make you imagine a situation slightly differently. I read a book a couple of years back called “The Language Hoax” by John McWhorter that argued against the idea that different languages shaped the way we see the world and I think he makes a lot of good points and yet things like this seem like little crumbs of evidence to the contrary.

**=This one almost broke my brain, because although “distante” was changes to “distantes” in the previous sentence, “perto” stays as “perto” even though on the face of it, it’s describing the exact same arrangement of arms and legs. Why? Because perto is an adverb not an adjective. The word it is describing is “estiverem” not “braços”. I know, I know, Just go and make a cupof tea and meditate on it for a while, it’ll make sense after a while.

***I put “tal como” here. Such that the chest touches the floor, but it was changed to “In such a way that the chest touches the floor”.

**** I put “ligados” thinking that would do for “engaged” as in “keep your abs engaged” but no. Contracted.

***** I think this is my first successful attempts to insert one of these little emphatic “é”s into a sentence. Sadly I made a mistake in another part of teh sentence so it wasn’t a 100% success, but I’ll call it a small vitory!

Posted in English

Embiggification

If there’s one thing Portugal is not, it’s Texas. Portugal is Portugal, Texas is Texas. How many times must I repeat this, people?

While Texas prides itself on everything being bigger there, european portuguese uses a lot of diminutive endings “inho” and “inha”, at least in conversational use. This doesn’t usually mean the thing they’re talking about is actually small (although it might be), it’s just a way of speaking, and it makes the sentence sound more natural and polished. The opposite phenomenon, augmentative endings, are rarer and the way they are formed is more variable than the diminutive, so they need a little more work to remember. So… let’s Texanise our Portuguese for a bit and look at this list “(from “A Actualidade em Português”)

Where the word is highlighted in red, the augmented form has changed gender from feminine to masculine, and blue highlighting indicates the opposite. Predictably, the former is more common than the latter.

StandardTranslationAugmentedTranslation
CasaHouseCasarãoBig house
RochaRockRochedoBig rock
BarulhoNoiseBarulhãoBig noise*
VozVoiceVozeirão(Someone who has a) loud voice
PortaDoorPortãoBig door, main door of a building
SalaRoomSalãoBig room especially in a commercial space – eg, dance hall or showroom
FacaKnifeFacalhão/Facão**Big knife, machete
CamisolaJumperCamisolãoBig jumper
HomemManHomenzarrãoLarge man
MulherWomanMulheronaLarge woman
BocaMouthBoqueirãoLarge mouth (has several geographical uses – eg a river mouth, hole in the ground, gap between mountains)
PratoPlatePratalhãoBig plate, dish
ChuvaRainChuvadaDownpour
CadeiraChairCadeirãoBig chair
CopoDrinking glassCopãoBig drinking glass
PeitoChestPeitaça/Peitaço***Big/strong chest
SábioWise personSabichão****Great, wise one
PataPaw, hoof, animal footPatorraBig paw, big foot
CãoDogCãozarrãoBig dog
RapazBoyRapagão/RapazãoChonky Boi, absolute unit

*=This one is in the book but not in Priberam so I guess not standard.

**=Faca has two forms, one of which stays feminine and the other switches to masculine. The first is the one given in the book, but the second is definitely used and is given in priberam

***=Peito has two forms, one feminine and one masculine. Despite what you might think, that’s not because one is used for a woman’s chest and one for a man’s; they’re synonyms. Peitaça is more common and can be used for a man’s swole pecs without implying he has a nice rack, and that makes it interesting because it’s the only example where the supersizing results in a word going from masculine to feminine. Neither of them seems particularly common though, and in fact if you google it you’ll mostly find brazilian websites with ornate breastplates, which isn’t a meaning given in Priberam so I guess it must be specific to the Brazilian variant

****=Informal, often ironic, mocking

Posted in English

Sir Isaac Neuter

I wrote this weeks ago but it’s been sitting in my drafts folder for ages

I had quite a response to the post a few days weeks ago about fringe issues of grammatical gender, It’s been helpful and interesting. It’s always interesting when I get corrections from Portuguese speakers of course, but these ones were even more interesting because it seemed like there were so many different takes on the subject so it was more like a debate and not just people telling me I’ve used the wrong tense or whatever. I must admit though that I wish I’d toned down my sense of humour. I think some of the tone came across as being a douchey anglophone who was criticising someone else’s grammar for being structurally sexist. Not my intention of course. I know english is weird in its own way (the spelling! Oh my god!) but this is a blog about learning portuguese so I’ll let someone else write about that.

Most languages have gender as a way of dividing nouns into different types of course. Portuguese inherited its system from Latin. We used to have it in english too but it faded hundreds of years ago. I pay a lot of attention to gender in portuguese, mostly because I find it so hard to remember the rules (see my post on gender & noun endings for example!). And, as a result of that attention, I often notice some of the more unusual aspects, and they grab my attention much more than the standard day-to-day words. That’s why I wrote the last article: It was as if I’d been looking for ladybirds and suddenly came across some weird, 24-legged purple creature with six wings hiding under a leaf. Suddenly, I’m emptying out my bug-jar to make room for it.

I’ve also had a lot of people replying specifically to the issue of gender as it relates to people (what the cool kids refer to as “gender identity”). I hadn’t really seen this as a key part of the post but again I didn’t really do myself with the choice of jokes. First of all, calling the piece “Neuter Kids on the Block” seemed like quite a good pun. Neuter is the name of a third gender in Latin that is neither masculine nor feminine so it seemed to fit with the story about the teacher. I’m not suggesting kids can be “neuter” of course. Mixing up grammatical gender and a person’s sex and/or the way they describe their gender is usually going to cause confusion. They’re not completely unrelated of course: some words will change the ending according to the person’s sex like médico/médica, professor/professora, but it’s best to keep them as two separate things in your head. Sorry. Wasn’t thinking.

I think the best way is to do this as a series of headings because the objections and corrections don’t really form a coherent whole.

What kinds of non-gender-specific pronouns are there?

Addressing mixed groups

In standard portuguese, if you are referring to any group of people using a pronoun then it needs to be “eles” (subject) or “os” (direct object) unless they are all women, in which case it’s “elas” and “as”. Indirect objects are the same for both: “-lhes”. When it comes to adjective endings, if they change at all, the rule is straightforward: if they are all female then you use “-as” but if there is one or more male it defaults to the masculine plural “-os”. That holds true even if the women outnumber the men by a million to one.

This is what I was referring to in the original post: it seems as though the tutor in my lesson was not satisfied with this situation and had changed it to an “e” ending in order to create a non-gender-specific (neuter) ending that isn’t part of standard portuguese because, I guess, she thinks masculine shouldn’t be the default. Nobody has suggested any alternative explanation so I am still pretty sure that’s what her intention was. A few people were quite skeptical of her approach though. For example, Reddit user Butt_Roidholds pointed out that in a lot of accents you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between an -e ending and an -o ending anyway. You can see this on some meme accounts like bilbiamtengarsada on Instagram, where they’ll write dialect spelling that sometimes has an e on place of the o, but they aren’t being woke, just mimicking an accent.

Addressing mixed sets of individuals.

This one is slightly different because you’re addressing individual readers, not treating them as a group. For example, sending out an email to multiple people. Again, in theory you should be able to treat them all as masculine endings, as if the masculine gender in Portuguese was applicable to everyone. I don’t think most people think this way though and you’ll usually see something like “caro/a leitor(a)” to take account of the fact that the person reading it might be male or female. It’s a bit like in English when you write “Dear sir/madam”

On the Internet, you might see this written using an @ sign. Like today a few weeks ago on Instagram, someone (I think it was Literacidades) posted a poll about people’s covid vaccination status and one of the options was “vacinad@” because the individual user could be vacinado or vacinada. I like this. It’s neat. You obviously can’t pronounce it in speech, and that makes it a problem for people with impaired vision who are browsing the internet using text-to-speech software, and that’s a shame because it seems like a tidy way to do it.

Addressing People Who Self-Describe as Non-Binary

OK, we’re into the controversial bit now. Don’t panic, we’re going to get through this. Probably. The focus of the post is meant to be language and how some speakers of portuguese are trying to change the way it’s used. I’m not setting out to talk about the underlying question of how the idea of gender is changing in society generally. Although I very definitely do have an opinion on that, this is a language blog so I’m not here to evaluate the truth claims of the various competing versions of gender theory or the various arguments for or against. If you want that, go on twitter and you’ll find someone who’ll be happy to fight you to the death in a cage. Just don’t tell them I sent you.

That said, it is just possible that you haven’t heard the term non-binary before, so I’ll need to give a little bit of background.

There’s been a trend in the last few years for people to identify as “non-binary”. In other words, they do not think of themselves as relating to traditional notions of masculine or feminine and therefore they don’t want to be described as a man or a woman. This is part of a wider trend towards people believing that what makes you a man or a woman (or neither) is not the body but some internal sense of yourself. This is explained in a variety of different ways, and people who want it to be normalised are trying to effect change, mainly to pronouns, in their own languages around the world through social media campaigns, the school curriculum, changes to the law and so on.

Zir Isaac Newton

Of course that process is much, much more complicated in romance langauges than it is in english. In english, people who identify as not having a gender often prefer to be referred to either by a “neo-pronoun” like “zi” or “zer” (full list here) or using plural pronouns “they” and “them” instead of the usual he/she/him/her. People may differ about whether they regard this as politeness or attention-seeking and to what extent they are willing to comply with it, but at least for us english speakers that’s really the extent of the change and you don’t need to worry about adjective endings or any of that malarkey.

Assuming you are interested in finding out how this works in portuguese (and I guess if you weren’t you would have rolled your eyes and skipped ahead to the next section by now) here’s the state of play as of July September 2021, but obviously if you’re reading this in 2025 it will probably all seem laughably outdated and you will be cancelled if you repeat any of it.

Basically…

  • There are four completely different sets of candidate pronouns that can be applied to non-binary individuals in portuguese. The most popular is “the Elu system”. It uses Elu/Elus for its third person subject pronouns and so on through “delu” and “aquelus” and so on. But there are also systems based on Ile, Ilu and El. The last one seems like one to avoid if you’re a foreigner since the last thing you want is for someone to think you’re trying to talk to them in spanish!
  • The equivalent definite articles are either ê/ês or le/les, depending on the system. Adjective endings go to either e or u, so you get sentences like “ê carlos é muito esperte“. Possessives change too of course: Tue or Tu instead of Teu and Tua for example.
  • I think it’s correct to say these neo-pronouns are neuter pronouns, grammatically speaking, even though people are not neuter. Neuter exists in grammar, not in human biology.
  • It’s possible to avoid the issue entirely by means of circumlocations like “aquela pessoa é muito bonita” because pessoa is a feminine word you can use a feminine adjective while avoiding a social faux-pas no matter who you are referring to. Similarly, “trabalha numa biblioteca” instead of “é bibliotecário/a” and “molhaste-te por causa da chuva” instead of “estás todo molhado/a”.
  • Avoid the “-x” ending popular among americans or the @ ending that I mentioned above. They’re impossible to pronounce and don’t work with screen readers.
  • Non-binary and inclusive language applies only to humans, not animals or things. As I mentioned in the last post, this obviously strikes us as odd since we think of all inanimate objects and even some animals as basically having no gender because no biological sex, but portuguese has genders for all nouns and (if these changes becaome accepted by a majority of people) humans would be the only nouns that can be referred to without gender!

This is all set out with a lot more detail in a manual of inlusive language here which will presumably be updated from time to time. The guy says right in the intro that the language is “unfortunately still very binary and sexist” which I think is not something I’d agree with, but it’s not my language so I’ll leave it to others to comment. The manual is brazilian, I think, but as with america and britain, it tends to be the larger, more noisy transatlantic country that sets the agenda for the smaller, quieter one.

Summary

All of the above sections are pretty controversial of course and different people had different takes on it. AndreMartins5979 said that a better way of looking at this is to think of the masculine gender in portuguese as being neuter. It’s only called “masculine” because the feminine exists. So, he argues, Portuguese should stop using feminine and be more like english and just use one ending for all adjectives. I think this is the only time I have seen a portuguese speaker express this opinion. I can see the attraction obviously, because I speak english and it’s a lot easier, but it runs up against the same problem all the other suggested changes have: how do you implement a change this drastic across all printed materials, all websites, all schools, all conversations in all portuguese speaking countries in a way that everyone can agree with?

Taking the Acordo Ortográfico as an example, it would be pretty difficult, to say the least!

Other users described these sorts of changes, even when they are less extreme than the one Andre suggested, as “ugly” and “inelegant” and an imposition from the anglosphere onto the lusosphere.

Paxona, who is brazilian, mentioned that in her state, gender neutral language had been banned in schools. I don’t know quite how to feel about this: the current brazilian president is… well, let’s just say “a divisive figure”. I can think of shorter ways to describe him, but that’ll do. It’s a state ruling though, not a federal law. Anyway, I’m not really sure what the motivation is behind this law. Generally, I’m not a fan of banning language. Language changes when people start using it differently, not when some central authority decrees it, but she pointed out that education is the duty of the state – and hence, schools are a form of central authority in their own communities. So, in a world where there are several conflicting theories of how pronouns should be used, it’s all in flux and it’s all very controversial, it’s probably right that the legislature attempt to exert some sort of stabilising influence, at least for the time being. Otherwise you have a lot of well-meaning teachers, all trying to impose their own preferred systems and their own pet theories on a bunch of kids whose parents all speak standard portuguese.

Why is Masculinity not Masculine?

My daughter has just looked over my shoulder and seen this headline and now thinks I am writing something very, very woke.

Part of the original post was about a book called “O Feminino e o Moderno” by Ana Luísa Vilela, Fábio Maria da Silva and Maria Lúcia Dal Farra. And I said “O Feminino” meant “Femininity”. As Paxona pointed out, that isn’t quite right though. It’s more like “the feminine”. It’s a noun that tends only to be used in academic or abstract settings. According to Priberam:

Conjunto de qualidades ou atributos considerados como pertencentes às mulheres (ex.: representações do feminino na pintura)”
“feminino”, in Dicionário Priberam da Língua Portuguesa [em linha], 2008-2021, https://dicionario.priberam.org/feminino [consultado em 03-07-2021].

So “O Masculino” and “O Feminino” are both masculine, and “A Masculinidade” and “A Feminilidade” are both feminine. So that’s er… totally clear then!

Why are Feminine Things Masculine?

I still find it really confusing when I need to describe something as masculine but the noun is a feminine noun.

So here’s a page about “Roupas Masculinas“. “Roupa” is a feminine word, so even though these specific clothes are designed for men, the adjective ends up being masculina, not masculino. It’s a masculine feminine thing. Thinking about this gives me a headache.

Likewise, here are some Acessorios Femininos.

The plot really thickens when you get to word like “Grávido” which means pregnant. As I said in the last post, the default form of the adjective is masculine even though males can never get pregnant. Now, I still think if I were a portuguese woman this would enrage me more than words can express but I seem to be alone in that view.

Reddit user Xavieryes points out three possible situations where you could legitimately use grávido in its masculine form:

  • A male seahorse can get pregnant. Like all male animals, daddy seahorses (seastallions???) produce small gametes that fertilise the larger female ones, but unlike most species, female seahorses pass their eggs over to the male and he carries the fertilised eggs until they are seafoals ready for their first seadressage.
  • There are also trans-men, ie biologically female humans who identify as socially masculine and often prefer to be known by male pronouns. They can become pregnant and could then also be said to be “grávido”.
  • Finally, a guy whose wife/girlfreind is pregnant might be said to be grávido, in a jokey way, either because he is very uxorious – like when english-speaking couples say “we’re pregnant”, or it might just be because he has a big beer belly

So that’s three exceptions that justify the word grávido as being default in the dictionary over grávida. and again, I know its just the rules of how the language works but… I still think if I were a portuguese woman I would be burning the world down because of this.

Well, I think that’s the best I can do. It’s not the easiest of subjects to write about clearly and I expect there will be people who disagree so feel free to tell me about it in the comments 👇

I have asked on the portuguese subreddit if it’s OK to quote the people named, but if anyone would rather I deleted their username, drop me a line and I’ll do that.

Posted in English

The Corrections

Writing texts in the WritestreakPT subreddit has been really interesting. That’s where all these corrections have been coming from on this blog lately, and the people who hang out there correcting texts are really nice. It’s good when the corrections show you new words and are an education in themselves, and today has produced some.really interesting new words so I thought I’d share the results of my digging. These are all taken from the comments under “Os Adolescentes”

“Não vou ser assim tão picuinhas aqui”. I’m not going to be so fussy here. Picuinhas is an odd looking word. It almost looks like it wants a q in place of the c. And more to the point, why is it an adjective that apparently always ends in -as, even when the noun it’s referring to is singular and masculine? Priberam defines it as “Quem é exageradamente minucioso, quem dá muito importância a pormenores”. So I almost translated it as pedantic, but “pedante” already exists and I think fussy or picky is probably nearer the mark.

“Alguns são matreiros” Some of them are tricky.

“O meu pelouro são as vírgulas”. My area of responsibility is commas. I assumed “pelouro” must be like “pet peeve” but it’s not. A Pelouro is a branch of the municipal government of the responsibility of an individual Councillor, so by extension if someone says “O meu pelouro é (whatever)” they’re saying that’s their department: the thing they care about, and they make it their business to keep an eye on it.

I’m not sure what a pet peeve is. “Pet hate”, if you’re interested, is “Ódio de estimação”, which is exactly what you’d expect since a pet is an animal de estimação.

I asked about the Pelouro example. It is, as she said, “um pouco rebuscado” that they use local council departments as a way of denoting personal areas of responsibility. I only know “rebuscado” as meaning “far-fetched” when describing a book, say, but it has other meanings and the sense seems to be slightly different here. It’s a bit of a stretch; it’s a bit laboured.

I was advised to maybe check up on a facebook group called “Tesourinhos das Autárquicas” (clippings from the local elections) to get a flavour of what goes on in Portuguese local democracy. It’s a good way of getting some exposure to the language, culture and politics of the country, which can only be a good thing.

Finally, I said (in English) “I can feel a blog post coming on”, and that, apparently is “Cheira-me que vem aí uma publicação do blog”. It smells like there is a blog post coming. Smells? What are you implying? 🤔