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I came across a word the other day that I hadn’t really thought about much but seems to have more depth than I realised. For some, it’s just as much a national characteristic as “saudade”. The word is “desenrascanço“. Its root is “enrascar” which means to twist or tangle. So it’s basically the ability to untangle things, and it’s more-or-less equivalent to English words like improvisation, hacking, kludging, or pulling a MacGyver*.

Just to be clear though, as far as I can tell, it’s the quality of a person who is resourceful, not an individual act of improvisation, although I can see some online definitions that have explained it that way. So it’s more like “the quality of being good at improvising” or maybe “MacGyverishness”. And hence, some Portuguese people see it as an important national characteristic in the same way we brits value our ability to “muddle through”

*=confession time: I’ve never actually seen MacGyver, but I gather he was someone who always managed to get out of a tight spot by winging it with whatever was available. Or so my wife tells me.

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Collective nouns

I wish I could remember half the things I write in here. I sometimes use it to collect thoughts and nuggets of homework but it doesn’t always help it stay in my brain.

Anyway, here, from a book I’m reading called “Camões Conseguiu Escrever Muito Para Quem Só Tinha Um Olho” are some collective nouns for things

  • Alcateia – Lobos
  • Arquipélago – Ilhas
  • Boiada – Vacas, Bois
  • Cáfila – Camelos
  • Coro – Cantores
  • Enxame – Abelhas
  • Feixe – Lenha (a bundle of firewood)
  • Frote – Navios, Aviões Carros
  • Girândola – Foguetes
  • Laranjal – Laranjeiras
  • Magote – Pessoas
  • Manada – Bois, Búfalos, Elefantes
  • Molho – Chaves, Lenha, Verdadura
  • Nuvem – Gafanhotos, Moscas, Mosquitos
  • Olival – Oliveira
  • Pomar – Árvores de Fruto
  • Ramo – Flores
  • Récua – Animais de Carga
  • Regimento – Soldados
  • Sobral – Sobreiros
  • Turma – Alunos
  • Vinha – Videiras

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Prestável and Prestativo

It’s only just occured to me to wonder what the difference between these two is. They can both be translated as “helpful”, but “prestativo” is used when someone is happy to help others, whereas prestável is more instrumental – when some thing is helpful for achieving an end – so more like useful.

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Farting About: The Royal Road to Language Proficiency

I got this game recently called June’s Journey. It’s not as good as I hoped, tbh, and if I was playing it in English I’d have given up by now, but setting it to Portuguese settings turns out to be quite useful. A lot of the gameplay hinges in spotting items in a picture and clicking on them. Since the names of all the items are in Portuguese (Brazilian Portuguese, but hey…) it has turned out to be quite a good way of learning new vocabulary.

I have a couple of games that I play in Portuguese already, but this is the one that looks set to be the most beneficial.

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Champagne For My Real Friends, Real Pain for My Sham Friends


I made a new Memrise Deck, which I’ll probably add to as and when. It’s about “False Friends” (“Falsos Amigos”) and I’ve been meaning to write it for a while, and not just as an excuse to steal this title which is the name of a song by Fallout Boy.

False friends are words that look like they should mean one thing but they actually mean something else entitrely. It’s here if you’re interested.


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Take 5… Well, 7

Verbs that mean something like “Take” in various contexts

Tomar =take
Tomar duche = take a shower
Tomar em consideração = take into consideration
Tomar as decisões = take the decisions
Tomar conta = take care of

Apanhar = catch 
Apanhar alguém de surpresa = take someone by surprise
Apanhar com a boca na botija = catch someone red-handed

Demorar=to take a long time
O capitão demorou muito no banho = the captain took/spent a long time in the bath

Levar =take 
Levou muito tempo até conseguirmos constatar esta realidade = It took a long time to establish this reality
Levar em consideração = take into consideration
Jesus de fato levou todos os seus pecados embora = Jesus in fact took all your sins away

Trazer=bring (here – as opposed to Levar which is taking something away)
Ficar à vontade para trazer sua própria cerveja= you’re welcome to take/bring your own beer

Tirar =take (a picture) /take out
Tirar uma fotografia = take a photograph

Atirar =shoot
Atirar contra um alvo = take a shot at a target

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It’s Not An Eric Clapton Song

Favourite word of the day: “Leiloeiro” – auctioneer. It came up with my Brazilian language partner when we were discussing that Banksy stunt at the auction (o leilão). As it turns out, Shredded is a very difficult word to say if you’re Brazilian.

It was a welcome relief from politics. We’d just done Brexit (during which he discovered that we British have over 300 was of saying “completely buggered”) and Bolsonaro (he’s a fan, gawdelpus)

Anyway, for a bit of light relief – I did a consoante perdido on twitter today so here it is:

Faustus, you have dominion over all powers and cities of the world. Fair Helen of Troy is your wife. The time has come to fulfill your sacred obligation: help me create an aquatic bird.

OK, sure, I’ll make a [pato=duck/pacto=pact] with the devil.

Not sure how well it works. I was a bit worried the spelling of pacto would have changed due to the AO, meaning they’d be um… Homonyms… Do I mean Homonyms? I think I do. Luckily the Brazilians seem to have see sense this time.