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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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Don’t Risk it for the Biscate

Episode 8963 of the series “words that mean wildly different things on different sides of the Atlantic”

Biscate seems like a useful word to have in your back pocket, but use it with care. In Portugal it refers to a side job, side huddle, or short term job. In the world of the gig economy, it seems like a good one to know.

Olha, aquele é mecânico nos estaleiros, mas faz uns “biscates” de electricidade por fora!

When this came up in online discussion, some Brazilian contributors found this funny because that’s not what it means in Brazil at all. Over there it refers to a woman who has lots of sexual partners – so equivalent to slut or slag or other derogatory terms.

A menina que ficava com todos garotos do colégio era chamada de biscate.

Navigating slang is more complicated in Portuguese than in English because there seem to be quite a lot of examples of differences like this.

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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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Aparrantly This Is Swearing

Portuguese twitter is very amused by this Instagram Post from “Lover of Geography”

For those not in the know, the actual palavrão here is “porra“, not “parra”.

Palavrão? Don’t I mean “asneira”? Palavrão is a swear word, whereas an asneira is any bad thing. You can “dizer asneiras” (say bad things) but you can also fazer asneiras (do bad things) so an asneira isn’t necessarily a swear word, it depends on context. The other relevant word is “calão” which just means slang.

By the way, why is Fuck the only one of these considered rude enough to have an asterisk? Or do they mean that English people actually say “Effasteriskseekay”? I wouldn’t put it past some people to be honest.

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Talk the Streets

I came across a new (to me) channel on YouTube today and the first video I tried was full of good tips. She’s British so she seems to be coming at it from a practical standpoint of how to get by as an immigrant in Portugal rather than doing a lot of detailed stuff about grammar. Bookmarked for later to try the rest of her videos.

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Quite interested to see this word “esquerdoide” or “esquerdoido” pop up a few times on Portuguese language twitter on both sides of the Atlantic. It seems to be the equivalent of the word “leftard” used by obnoxious maga types. It’s used in more-or-less the same way: identify some stupid thing said or done by one person or a small group of people on the other side. If it’s apocryphal or even if you just made it up, it doesn’t matter much. Then generalise that to characterise everyone in the other party as sharing the same opinion and being a bunch of leftards /esquerdoidos who aren’t smart like what we is. Sad.

The guy in the original tweet here is some Bolsonaro fartcatcher, so in American terms, this is like – I dunno – Stephen Miller, or Zac Goldsmith in the UK, mouthing off and one of their supporters jumping in and going “Yes, yes, they are all crazy aren’t they! Shit in my mouth please” or whatever people say when they wholeheartedly support the government in the face of all the evidence and are willing to let them get away with absolutely anything.

Side-note. “Coringa vírus” is presumably a reference to the movie Joker which is called Coringa in Brazil.

Posted in Portuguese

The Talking Dead

Trigger warning: may contain rudity.

Two weird pieces of slang grammar in the Walking Dead book I’m reading (Vol 12, which is called “Viver Entre Eles” in portuguese), during a scene in which Abraham finds out Eugene has been lying all along and that Washington is not, in fact, a safe haven.

  • Seu filho de puta
  • Porque, c’um caraças?

Apparently that c’um is short for “com um”, and the “seu” can mean “you are” although why the heck that should be, I have absolutely no idea! To me it just looks like he’s saying “your son of a whore” which is baffling.


Paulo on iTalki offers an extra bit of wisdom, saying that “seu filho de puta” is ironically following the very formal way of addressing a member of the aristocracy – e.g. Sua Alteza Real o princípe-herdeiro, equivalent to “his royal highness….”. My mind is still grappling with this new information. Can it be right? It seems like a lot of baroque irony to apply to – basically – a physical assault…

–update to the update–

OK, Paulo’s explanation checks out. Although the person probably isn’t going out of their way to be wittily ironic, the format “seu…” is derived from that way of speaking and indicates a higher degree of specificity – you specific son of a whore!


Thanks Ariene for helping me with these.

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Transatlantic Witterings


I’m going to use this post as a notepad for brazilian language notes.


I’ve been having skype language exchanges with a brazilian PE teacher who lives in Portugal, and that’s not too bad because he knows the euopean dialect, but I’ve also joined a sort of online gaming board made up of some brazilian dudes who talk in abbreviations, and that’s like being buffeted about inside a washing-machine full of abbreviations.

vlw=valeu (“thanks”)

One that flummoxed me was “blz” which, from the context I thought was a borrowed “please” (they use borrowed americanisms like “man” a lot so this is not as mad as it sounds) but it’s actually “beleza” which is a regional way of saying “ok” or “understand?” You reply with “beleza” if you get it and “não entendi” if not.


Galera seems to be used in more or less the same way as the portuguese “malta” in my group but I think it’s more like “team”


Means “Puta que pariu” literally ‘bitch that gave birth’ but less literally just a general all-purpose swear. Linguee translates it as “fucking hell”

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The Shipping Forecast

I think this might be my favourite example of weird english slang being absorbed into portuguese. So far I have only come across brazilian examples, but like the US and UK, these things have a way of making their way across the atlantic. For those of you who don’t have kids of a certain age, “shipping” is when you speculate/imagine/fantasise about two people, real or imaginary, who are, or should be in a relationSHIP. From what I can tell, tween girls seem to do it a lot with males: fictional characters, pop stars, or whoever. I’m not sure why their being gay should be so exciting, but who can understand anything when it comes to tweenagers? Often there’s a ship name like Rydon (Brendon Urie and Ryan Ross) or Klance (Keith and Lance from the series Voltron). It’s always kinda been around in celebrity gossip (Brangelina, for example) but seems to be a huge deal in fandoms, with people arguing over matches between diverse and unlikely characters.

I just love that it’s become a proper portuguese verb, although I’m a little sad to see it’s not on yet. Most new additions to the language from english end up being AR verbs because they’re more regular than ER or IR.

The video below contains (a) brazilian accent and (b) coraçõezinhos

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Tuga Window, Tuga Wall

I keep coming across this word “Tuga” on social media only and it’s not in my dictionary so I’d worked out from the context that it was maybe a portuguesified appropriation of “thug” as in “thug life”. Well apparently it’s short for Portuguese. Duh, how thick can I be?