Portugal becomes the latest country to be absorbed into the multinational televisual Borg Collective.
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
|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
E como numa promessa
Ficaste nua para mim
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|
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.
I’ve been trying to tune my ears in to this series of videos. The character is called Bruno Aleixo and he has appeared in a few different shows. It’s sort of surreal humor. I would really like to be able to follow it but even with my wife’s translation there are big chunks I can’t make out. It’s got a really strong regional accent – you can hear the would “ouvir” has an extra syllable and sounds like ouviree, for example, and a lot of the words are run together so it’s hard to disentangle them.
There are two parts. I’ll put what she says it means and what I think I actually hear. Before she clued me in to what it meant I could only make out about a third of it, now I’m at about 80% but can’t quite make my ears hear the rest.
FIRST BIT If you have a brother, show him these tips (se tivesse algum irmão, mostra-lhe estes conselhos) / if you have a sister, don’t show her because they aren’t for girls (se something irmã não mostre something coisas something ouvir) / if your grandmother hears it she’ll hit me (se tua avó apanhe isto something-me)
SECOND BIT If you catch your uncle Horatio drunk, take the chance to steal his money (se apanhasse (? Tense?) o teu tio Horácio bêbedo aproveita para (re)tirar dinheiro) But careful, if he catches you he’ll hit you hard (Mas cautela, se ele te apanhe (? Tense) dá something… Oh wait, its cabeçadas isn’t it! com força) and the money is from France so you’ll have to exchange it at the bank (e a dinheiro é da França, tens something trocar ao banco – actually sounds like à banco but that can’t be right)
Is exactly the sort of thing I love. The writer is Ricardo Araújo Pereira, comedian, columnist and all round good guy (well, as far as I know) Anyway, in the passage above, he’s describing a song I don’t know and saying that if a foreigner were to hear it, although they would rightly spot that it sounds lovely, they probably wouldn’t understand it and certainly wouldn’t notice that the last word of every line is “proparoxítona”* and nor would they understand that the word “proparoxítono” itself is proparoxítona**. And he’s right: it is a lovely song and when I read this in bed last night I had no clue what Proparoxítono meant but I knew I had to find out as soon as I woke up.
First of all, let’s hear the song
Oh my god, that is the good stuff alright. I know it’s Brazilian Portuguese, not Portuguese Portuguese but Jesus Christ it’s good. Inject it directly into my veins! There is something slightly strange about the rhythm of the verse though isn’t there? And I never would have spotted what it was.
Before I get I to it, let’s lay a bit of groundwork by thinking about where the stress falls in a Portuguese word.
The vast majority of words in Portuguese put the stress on either the final syllable (if the last letter is r, l, z, m, u, i or n) or the penultimate one (basically, all other letters). Any exceptions to the rule need an accent to be added as a hint to the reader. So for example there are a lot of words that end in – ável or – ível that are pronounced with the stress on the a and the i respectively. If the accent wasn’t there you’d have to say incrivEL and confortavEL. But it’s pretty easy and you get used to it, and before you know it, you’re just used to the rhythm of Portuguese speech without even being conscious of it.
Proparoxítono means that the stress falls on the last-but-one syllable. These always have to have an accent because they break the normal rules, like bêbado (BÊ-ba-do) and mágico (MÁ-gi-co) and sábado (SÁ-ba-do) and última and único and tímido and… Well, and every other word he finishes a line with in the song, which is why you get this effect that’s really unusual in a Portuguese song, where the last two syllables of every line are unstressed.
Oh my god, that’s so satisfying. I love it! It’s the most value I’ve ever got out of a single paragraph, I think: a new word, a new song and a new way of noticing the rhythm of Portuguese music.
Anyway, if you want to know more, this video has some good analysis. It’s in Brazilian Portuguese too, so be warned if you’re trying to avoid the dialect. It’s worth making an exception for though.
*it has an a in the end here, unlike in the title, because its an adjective and palavra is feminine
**Now I know what you’re thinking: “Isn’t that the stuff Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying think should be used to cure Covid?” Close, but no, it’s not that either.
Since “The New Normal” has been a theme today, here’s Sergio Godinho with a song of that name, written in August last year and containing obvious references to the long nightmare from which we hope we will soon awake (although I’m writing this the day after “Freedom Day” and I am regning in my optimism…)
Dadas as circunstâncias Given the circumstances
Mantenha as distâncias Keep your distance
Respeite os espaços Respect the spaces
Controle essas ânsias Control your urges
De beijos e abraços for kisses and hugs
Refreie as audácias e as inobservâncias Refrain from risks and non-observances
One of the things I’ve been doing in my non-portuguese life is trying to learn poems. I had some idea that it would be nice to have more poetry in amongst the clutter of my brain, and also good mental exercise now that I’m well into middle age and finding myself forgetting stuff all the time. In the last couple of weeks I have memorised two. I can now recite Weathers by Thomas Hardy or The Subaltern’s Love Song by John Betjeman by heart. I like the Betjeman best; the rhythm of it is amazing, and it really conveys the sense of being giddy and excited and in love.
Anyway, I was thinking of doing “Mar Português” by Fernando Pessoa next. It’s shorter but I’m expecting it to be harder in anotgher language. So I was really excited to see this video drop into my Youtube recommendations today. Mar Português is the fifth of the five poems she reads. I have been subscribed to the channel for a while but not really following it closely but I can see I am going to have to keep a closer eye on it from now on, because I like this a lot!
For no real reason, I decided to look for a portuguese workout channel to use instead of my normal Joe Wicks routine for a change. What I found was that the market seems to be dominated by Lidl, the supermarket chain. It’s quite a canny way to build a relationship with your customers, I suppose, during lockdown. There are dozens of videos on there. Here’s a basic playlist for example, but there are loads more, each with a long list of workout videos from little shorties like this guy doing power curtsies with his very patient dog…
…through yoga and pilates
…to half hour circuit sessions
They even have a few hosted by this guy Jorge Fonseca who is an actual world Judo champion who… what? Runs the deli counter at the weekend for a bit of extra cash? I dunno.
If you prefer your workouts without any unexpected items in the bagging area, the only other channel I know is “Dicas do Salgueiro”. He has the same beard/long hair combination as Joe but he’s got a slightly different style – he does crossfit videos rather than mucking about at home with his kids in the shot, dressed as Scooby Doo. I was having a laugh at how seriously he seemed to be taking himself in this video but then the last few seconds of it when he goes to put the sword away made me warm to him.
So I think I might see if I can go through one of his (hour long!) videos from the Treino em Casa Quarantena playlist one day when I’m feeling energetic.
I’ve just written about O Superman, the satire on the career of António Ramalho Eanes. One of the things the book mentions is his visit to London where he does a typically Portuguese (?) thing: rearranging the cushion before sitting next to the Queen. I didn’t think much of this but you can actually see it happen in this video of the state visit.
Of course, the Queen is not scandalised by this and it doesn’t seem to be much of an issue. I don’t know why the satirist thinks it’s such a big deal but I guess it’s all grist to his mill, showing how uncultured and yokelish the president is that he’s never taken a ride in a royal carriage before!
The video is interesting (to me, anyway), since the announcer conveys the palace’s statement, putting forward Britain’s official stance towards the nascent democracy, which in a few short years had veered from fascism to a vanguardist, near communist junta, via a counter-revolution to a broadly left-wing government, ruling under a democratic constitution. So I’m glad to see they are recognising that process and trying to help it along.
I’m not sure, but I think we british play a larger role in the book. Early on, Cropcon, Superman’s home planet, is destroyed by a rival planet, which the author calls Brybton. Well, I don’t know what Brybton is meant to represent, but it sounds like “Britain” and “Bribe” might be contributing ingredients – in other words, the author reckons the military junta that acted as midwife to the democracy was unable to withstand the corrupting effect of international capital, as represented by England! I might be reading too much into that but it’s a fun historical factoid so I’ll enjoy it at least until someone tells me it’s wrong!
If you enjoyed the audiobook post a couple of weeks ago you might also enjoy this new YouTube channel started by Booktuber Silent Wanderer. It’s called Em Voz Alta and it’s looking to release two chapters per week of short stories read by Portuguese readers, many of whom I already know from their own channels. So far, they’ve finished O Principezinho (everyone’s favourite!) and they’re well into The Canterville Ghost.
Don’t forget, you can use the videos as audiobooks even if the screen is off by following the suggestions in my most recent post, Story Hour
One of the things that struck me after posting my list of audiobooks is that there aren’t many that are aimed at younger children, and if you’re a new reader that might be exactly what you need. I did check all the Portuguese children’s stories on Audible but with the exception of O Principezinho they were all Brazilian.
It seems like the best way to listen to stories for children is through videos. There are some on YouTube and some on the RTP Estudo em Casa site under “Hora da Leitura” (Reading Hour).
Here are a few lists you can tap into. If you want to listen to them as audiobooks, with the screen off and your phone in your pocket, there are a couple of settings you need to change on your phone, and I’ll put a video about that down at the bottom if you need it.
- Histórias de uma Quarantena (Contalá)
- Leandro Rei de Heliria (Conta-me um Conto)
- Leitura Terceiro Ciclo (Conta-me um Conto)
- My own YouTube playlist of children’s stories
- This one isn’t a playlist, but you can see the RTP Hora da Leitura videos here. Obviously, these are for home-schooling during pandemic lockdown so there’s a bit of discussion around each. If you’re reading this during a lockdown, consider watching them outside of school hours so as not to add to network traffic.
Obviously, you might be happy just to follow along with the video, especially since some of them show the actual text, or animations that can be good visual clues, but if you want to treat them like normal audiobooks, here’s a video that will explain how to set your phone up to play the audio only, even when the phone screen is off.