Posted in Portuguese


Two texts based on our recent trip to France with corrections

A minha esposa irá trabalhar no hospital durante a noite da passagem do ano. Eu e a minha filha vamos hoje para* Paris para celebrar o novo ano porque será mais divertido do que ver televisão sozinhos. Ela está a aprender francês, portanto podemos fingir que a viagem é “trabalho de casa” em vez de um desperdício de dinheiro.

Customers queuing outside Shakespeare and Company in Paris
Shakespeare and Company, Paris

Pela segunda vez neste ano, ficámos** numa fila para entrar numa loja. Desta vez, foi a Shakespeare and Company. A visita correu mil vezes melhor do que a na Lello. A Lello parece uma lata de sardinhas cheia de clientes***. A S&C é uma livraria fixe, com menos pessoas e além disso é proibido tirar fotografias. Acreditem ou não, os clientes entram para comprar livros e não para fazer cara de pato nas escadas. Adorei.

*I used “a” instead of “para” here but that would be more of a fleeting visit, not a two day jaunt.

**This was the text that triggered my post about Brazilian portuguese a couple of days ago

***I used “um chouriço enchido de clientes” because that appealed to me. It’s been changed to a more conventional portuguese expression. I think simile works OK, but there are other expressions using chouriço-stuffing so it’s probably a bit confusing. Encher chouriços means to waffle: to fill in time or pad out speech or essay with boring filler.

Posted in English

New Year, New Uwu

Feliz Ano Novo, fellow slaves to the grammar. May 2023 bring us all the linguistic wins we so richly deserve!

We were in France for the new year. France is a country to the south of us where they speak a language that’s a bit like portuguese but not as good. We’ve only been here a couple of days to see in the new year and it has been lovely, but we’re waiting for the Eurostar to take us home. The announcer has just told us that owing to the bad weather, the platform is slippery and “please take special care of it”, which I just find delightful, imagining myself tucking the platform into bed, giving it some camomile tea and a foot massage and tiptoeing out of the room. Aww, so cute!

As usual, it’s hard work, communicating in French. I used to be reasonably fluent so long as the conversation didn’t get too heavy. Now, every time I open my mouth, portuguese verbs elbow their way to the front of my tongue, shoving French conjugations out of the way. Sometimes I can get pretty far into crazy mishmashes of the two and it leaves me feeling a bit awkward. My daughter is better but she is a bit self-conscious too. She does a great job in what she plans to say but doesn’t like to speak spontaneously. We have a competition of who can go longest without “getting Englished” – in other words, making the person we’re speaking to just start speaking to us in our own language because it’s easier.

There’s no reason to be self-conscious though. Speaking someone else’s language is absolutely a compliment to them. It shows you’ve made an effort, and it’s basically always appreciated, whereas just launching into English is arrogant and douchey, so just go for it, and if it doesn’t work out, well, no worries, try again. What’s the worst that can happen? Well, short of picking the wrong words and accidentally buying twitter or divulging your location to the Romanian police, the worst most people can imagine is being laughed at. Is that really likely though? Would you ever laugh at someone from overseas speaking your language? And even if someone laughs, is it going to be malicious laughter? Again, it seems unlikely. Sometimes you might just trigger someone’s delighted reaction at an odd combination of words, like the French train announcer who’s concerned about the wellbeing of the platform, but that’s ok. Keep a sense of humour about it, and you’re all good.