Posted in English

Synonymous Bosch

Found our today that the word nora has two meanings. One is Daughter-in-law (I already knew this one) and the other is Waterwheel. Why those two things? I dunno.

Anyway, i was straight in there with a pun. I asked my wife to proof-read it for me to make sure I hadn’t ballsed up the grammar too badly. She’s very patient.

Posted in English, Portuguese

Robert Dinheiro’s Waiting, Talking Portuguese

I’ve been looking at words related to money and I’ve put together some short paragraphs that use them in context

This has absolutely nothing to do with the text, I just like puns, OK?

Os meus vizinhos oferecem alvíssaras (a reward) a quem forneça informações sobre o seu cão que desapareceu no domingo passado.

O governo já aumentou os impostos (taxes) apesar de ter prometido não agravar a carga fiscal (tax burden).

O meu contabilista (accountant) pratica honorários (professional fee) muito altos mas vale a pena

Além da propina (tuition fee) que pagava à universidade tinha de pagar uma joia (subscription fee) ao clube Marxista e manter a minha quota (periodic membership fee) em dia. Caso contrário, eu ficaria “cancelado”.

O meu avô recebe dividendos (dividends – not a hard one to guess, that!) modestos* cada ano em resultado dos seus investimentos (investments – another easy one!) . Comprou um por cento das ações (stocks. I’ve seen “títulos” and “papéis” used in this context. See here for example) duma empresa chamada “Apple” em 1978 e os lucros (profits) do seu capital cobrem as despesas (expenses) da sua humilde mansão numa pequena ilha privada no mar das Caraíbas.

A minha filha ganha (earns) bem com o seu serviço de ama mas vive connosco sem pagar renda (rent free: renda can also mean “income” in other contexts as well as rent). É rica. Penso em pedir-lhe um empréstimo (loan) mas a taxa (rate) de juros (interest) que ela aplica é bastante alta.

Depois de receber uma indemnização (compensation) do meu empregador, fui ao banco fazer um depósito (deposit, obviously) e depois à tasca praticar o levantamento do copo.

*This useage of “modesto” to describe something as small and unshowy, is not actually given in the dictionary but seems to be used as in English alongside the more normal use of modest to mean a person who is not boastful.

Posted in English

It’s Satire Innit

There’s a politician in Portugal called André Ventura who’s the leader of a “party” called CHEGA. The fact that CHEGA sounds a lot like MAGA is probably not a coincidence since he’s a populist: someone who builds a following by telling one section of society that they are the real, the deserving people, that everyone poorer than them is a dirty sponger, everyone richer than them is corrupt and anyone who has read a book is an elitist. Oh and he talks a lot of shit on Twitter too, like old whatsisname.

I’ve come across a few twitter accounts sending him up, like this one above. It appeals to me because I like puns. André Ventura = Aldrabé Ventrulha.

I think the pun in the first name is based on Aldrabão which is a sort of crooked person or con artist

1. [Informal]  Que ou quem diz ou faz coisas com intuito de enganar. = BURLÃO, IMPOSTOR, INTRUJÃO, TRAPACEIRO

2. [Informal] Que ou quem fala de modo confuso.

3. [Informal] Que ou quem não é limpo ou perfeito no que faz.

"Aldrabão", in Dicionário Priberam da Língua Portuguesa [em linha], 2008-2021, [consultado em 22-09-2021].

And in the second, it seems to be Entulha – 3rd person singular of Entulhar, meaning basically throw it in the junk pile or dispose of it in some way. It seems mostly to be used for either olive pits or builder’s rubble. Why do those two things go together? I’ve no idea.

en·tu·lhar - Conjugar
(en- + tulha + -ar)
verbo transitivo
1. Meter ou dispor em tulha.

2. Encher de entulho.

"entulha", in Dicionário Priberam da Língua Portuguesa [em linha], 2008-2021, [consultado em 22-09-2021].

Anyway, I think the general idea seems to be that he’s a crook who needs to be on the scrapheap.

I’m not sure how seriously to take Ventura. He somehow got eleven percent in January’s presidential elections and came third, so he can’t be written off entirely. But that still leaves forty percent of a country to convince and I think they’d take some convincing. Pictures I’ve seen from the campaign trail in the local council elections show some pretty underwhelming gatherings, not Trump style rallies. He doesn’t seem well-enough organised to be a serious threat. More of an Iberian Tommy Robinson than a new Salazar – but maybe that’s just my perception from my distance. He does seem to be a racist douchebag, and he’s been fined for saying some things that were out of line. I’ve also heard that he did time, maybe for fraud, but I can’t find a source for that so maybe it’s just a rumour.

There have even been calls to ban CHEGA itself as a racist organisation. As a general rule of thumb, I’m not in favour of banning organisations unless they are actively advocating or engaging in violence, not just talking shit. It only makes them look like martyrs and the authorities look like repressive, censorious dictators. Why give them that martyr status? Even the “oh isn’t he awful” hand-wringing stance with which the BBC treated Nigel Farage – another clueless, sloppy populist with racist leanings – fanned the flame of his appeal to the point at which he was able to knock us out of the EU. So it’s best not to build these idiots up too much, even by showing disapproval. Better to give them the same arms-length treatment as other fringe parties like the Greens and Plaid Cymru and let them make their own case under their own steam until they burn themselves out. It’s too late for us with Farage now. I hope Portugal don’t make the same mistake with Ventura.

Anyway, all of the above is just my uninformed wittering. I’ll be finding out more over the next week or two, but in the meantime if anyone wants to correct any misconceptions in any of it, drop me a note in the comments 👇

Posted in English, Portuguese

Piadas de Tiozão

Apparently piadas de tiozão (“big uncle jokes) are what Brazilians call dad jokes. Older subscribers who have endured three or more years of this blog (I raise a glass of Licor de Beirão in your honour) may remember that the European equivalent is “Piada Seca

I inflicted two in the world today.

Como se chama um cantor que tem muita sede?

Justin Beber

Como se chama um cantor que tem um leque e um tambor?

Justin Tamborleque

Posted in English

Aqui Vou Eu Novamente

This is a bit of a silly one. Notes down at the bottom. Thanks again ThisCatIsConfused for correcting it (and having the patience to read my silly word games!)

Abbabo de ver um filme baseado nas músicas de aca. Hum… Quero dizer “Acabo de ver um filme baseado nas músicas de ABBA”. O seu título é Mamma Mia. A minha filha e a sua amiga fizeram uma festa ontem à noite. Abbastecemo-las… Hum… Ou seja Abastecemo-las com petiscos e abbandonámo-las… Abandonámo-las na sala de estar. Hoje de manhã estão com sono e estão só capazes de comer panquecas com xarope e ver filmes.

Abbasar de ser…. Hum… Apesar de ser de sexo masculino*, gosto do filme. Há muitas estrelas no elenco. Acima de todos, gosto de Christine Baranski que é abbasolutamente… Hum… absolutamente fantastica. O enredo é engraçado, e as canções… Tipo… Quem não abbora ada… Ou seja quem. Não adora ABBA?

*=i just wrote “apesar de ser masculino but you have to say” de sexo masculino”. Probably would have been easier to say “apesar de ser homem” really, eh?

So what’s the joke?

I’d better explain for the benefit of anyone who is confused by the unfamiliar vocabulary that this is a sort of long-running pun: I’ve swapped the word “abba” onto other similar words like “apesar”, “acabo” and “abandonámos” and occasionally swapped letters in the other direction too. In each case, I correct myself immediately after but if you’re still at an early stage of your journey it probably looks a bit confusing so I’m sorry about that!

Posted in English


I’m sure you’ve been enjoying the recent news out of the USA. Me too. And I also really enjoyed the fact that I was actually able to understand a portuguese pun

Hey Trump, when you leave the white house, ask Melania to help “Kamala”.

The joke is that Kamala sounds like “Com a mala” (“with your suitcase”) although when I showed m’wife she pointed out it could equally well be “queimá-la” (“burn it”) but I guess that’s not what the author was going for

Posted in English

It’s Riry Funny

My First Actual, Proper Portuguese Joke

I had this idea for a joke in Portuguese yesterday while I was studying and I decided to turn it into a tweet. The verdict seems to be that it’s a bit crap.

One guy on iTalki liked it when I put it up for corrections but everyone else said “I can see what you’re driving at but I didn’t actually laugh”. And it got zero retweets on Twitter.

The english translation, though, got 54 (and counting!)

…which is more than any other tweet I’ve ever done with the exception of a photograph of a train cake I made for my daughter’s birthday party that was so bloody awful that it briefly catapulted me to Twitter-fame. I’m not really sure what this means. I mused on iTalki…

Fiz uma “tweet” com a piada em português e então fiz um outro com uma tradução em inglês (a piada corre bastante bem em inglês também: “Arctic”/”Article”). O tweet inglês retweetou-se cinquenta-e-dois vezes, e o português… nada! Talvez este facto mostra que a piada não é engraçada em português, mas provavelmente somente mostra que a maioria dos meus seguidores não falam português!

…but I wonder is it purely because so few lusophones saw it or is there something specific about the humour that gets lost in translation?

Tickling the Lusophones

Obviously, some things are never going to translate because the humour hinges on a pun that wouldn’t exist in the other language. Like these:

p: qual é o animal que tem mais que três olhos e menos que quatro? r: piolho

p: qual é o instrumento musical que tem mais que três e menos que quatro anos? r: piano

(taken from here)

These jokes only work because the portuguese words pi+olho=piolho (π+eye=louse) and pi+ano=piano (π+year=piano). That’s a total dead-loss if you wanted to translate it.

In other cases, joke formats are specific to a time and place. The Portuguese don’t have lightbulb jokes, for example, so when I sent this to my teacher, she didn’t recognise it as a part of a wider tradition.

Quantos Brasileiros precise para mudar uma lâmpada? Nenhum. Lâmpada não mudou por causa do acordo ortográfico

To be honest, I think I’m a long way from understanding whether there is some impassable barrier to fully understanding what tickles another nation. I’d love to find out though!


In the meantime, jokes and puns are a great way of brushing up your language skills and helping you remember stuff in a way that isn’t boring. Along the way, you get an insight into what makes people laugh in other countries. Here’s a guy getting his head around an old joke in English, for example. I happened to see it on iTalki today. They can be bilingual or just in the target language.

One of the simplest examples of puns as language-learning tools would be a mnemonic. Maybe you didn’t even realise that’s what you were doing when you came up with a mnemonic, but it’s all about the word play, baby, whether it’s acrostics, poems or puns. For example

You use a puxador when you want to push a door open

A puxador is a door handle and it is pronounced “pushadoor”. This is great until you find out that “puxar” actually means “pull”, not “push”. Push is “empurrar”, but even as you’re telling other people about this annoying fact, and tweeting “FML” about it, you are actually embedding all three new words in your mind in a single bad-luck anecdote, so it actually works better for being misleading.

5580857-160309235311One of my favourite apps, Memrise, encourages users to make “mems” – pictorial mnemonics – to help each other remember words. I have only done one because although I have ideas, who has that kind of time?


*points right*

…is my Mem for “As Cuecas”



Consoantes Perdidos

Another favourite joke format is the Lost Consonant. This is a format developed by Graham Rawle of the Guardian, back in the late eighties. He used to write a sentence that had one consonant omitted from one word, totally changing the meaning of the sentence. What I like about these is the challenge of making the grammar of the sentence work properly with or without the missing letter. That makes it a fun challenge for a person learning to write sentences in other languages, and to be honest, I suspect that I haven’t got it right every time when I have tried it. For example

which means

Increase the battery life of your mobile phone by not washing it in bleach

with the added c in “bateria” you get

Increase the life of the bacteria on your mobile phone by not washing it in bleach

But does the grammar actually make sense in either or both of these sentences? Christ knows, and I can’t even think how I would explain all this to a Portuguese person so they could judge. They’d think I was off my head.

There are some examples of original Graham Rawle Lost Consonants here.

Twitter Lost Consonants in English (#lostconsonants)

Twitter Lost Consonants in Portuguese (#consoantesperdidos)


I have already banged on at length about Astérix cartoons as the gateway to better vocabulary, but there are plenty of cartoons out there on the web if you know where to look and they can be quite instructive. Like this for example:


It works because “nada” means “nothing” but it’s also the second person singular imperative form of the Portuguese verb “nadar” – so it means, “hey, person I know reasonably well – you need to swim now!” And there’s no better way of remembering that fact than by laughing at this joke!

I found a new comic I like called Zorg & Borges recently. I think it’s on this page but the Publico website seems to be horrifically slow right now so apologies if this sends you to the wrong place. There’s a single example of it on here for sure though!