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If there’s one thing Portugal is not, it’s Texas. Portugal is Portugal, Texas is Texas. How many times must I repeat this, people?

While Texas prides itself on everything being bigger there, european portuguese uses a lot of diminutive endings “inho” and “inha”, at least in conversational use. This doesn’t usually mean the thing they’re talking about is actually small (although it might be), it’s just a way of speaking, and it makes the sentence sound more natural and polished. The opposite phenomenon, augmentative endings, are rarer and the way they are formed is more variable than the diminutive, so they need a little more work to remember. So… let’s Texanise our Portuguese for a bit and look at this list “(from “A Actualidade em Português”)

Where the word is highlighted in red, the augmented form has changed gender from feminine to masculine, and blue highlighting indicates the opposite. Predictably, the former is more common than the latter.

CasaHouseCasarãoBig house
RochaRockRochedoBig rock
BarulhoNoiseBarulhãoBig noise*
VozVoiceVozeirão(Someone who has a) loud voice
PortaDoorPortãoBig door, main door of a building
SalaRoomSalãoBig room especially in a commercial space – eg, dance hall or showroom
FacaKnifeFacalhão/Facão**Big knife, machete
CamisolaJumperCamisolãoBig jumper
HomemManHomenzarrãoLarge man
MulherWomanMulheronaLarge woman
BocaMouthBoqueirãoLarge mouth (has several geographical uses – eg a river mouth, hole in the ground, gap between mountains)
PratoPlatePratalhãoBig plate, dish
CadeiraChairCadeirãoBig chair
CopoDrinking glassCopãoBig drinking glass
PeitoChestPeitaça/Peitaço***Big/strong chest
SábioWise personSabichão****Great, wise one
PataPaw, hoof, animal footPatorraBig paw, big foot
CãoDogCãozarrãoBig dog
RapazBoyRapagão/RapazãoChonky Boi, absolute unit

*=This one is in the book but not in Priberam so I guess not standard.

**=Faca has two forms, one of which stays feminine and the other switches to masculine. The first is the one given in the book, but the second is definitely used and is given in priberam

***=Peito has two forms, one feminine and one masculine. Despite what you might think, that’s not because one is used for a woman’s chest and one for a man’s; they’re synonyms. Peitaça is more common and can be used for a man’s swole pecs without implying he has a nice rack, and that makes it interesting because it’s the only example where the supersizing results in a word going from masculine to feminine. Neither of them seems particularly common though, and in fact if you google it you’ll mostly find brazilian websites with ornate breastplates, which isn’t a meaning given in Priberam so I guess it must be specific to the Brazilian variant

****=Informal, often ironic, mocking

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The Corrections

Writing texts in the WritestreakPT subreddit has been really interesting. That’s where all these corrections have been coming from on this blog lately, and the people who hang out there correcting texts are really nice. It’s good when the corrections show you new words and are an education in themselves, and today has produced some.really interesting new words so I thought I’d share the results of my digging. These are all taken from the comments under “Os Adolescentes”

“Não vou ser assim tão picuinhas aqui”. I’m not going to be so fussy here. Picuinhas is an odd looking word. It almost looks like it wants a q in place of the c. And more to the point, why is it an adjective that apparently always ends in -as, even when the noun it’s referring to is singular and masculine? Priberam defines it as “Quem é exageradamente minucioso, quem dá muito importância a pormenores”. So I almost translated it as pedantic, but “pedante” already exists and I think fussy or picky is probably nearer the mark.

“Alguns são matreiros” Some of them are tricky.

“O meu pelouro são as vírgulas”. My area of responsibility is commas. I assumed “pelouro” must be like “pet peeve” but it’s not. A Pelouro is a branch of the municipal government of the responsibility of an individual Councillor, so by extension if someone says “O meu pelouro é (whatever)” they’re saying that’s their department: the thing they care about, and they make it their business to keep an eye on it.

I’m not sure what a pet peeve is. “Pet hate”, if you’re interested, is “Ódio de estimação”, which is exactly what you’d expect since a pet is an animal de estimação.

I asked about the Pelouro example. It is, as she said, “um pouco rebuscado” that they use local council departments as a way of denoting personal areas of responsibility. I only know “rebuscado” as meaning “far-fetched” when describing a book, say, but it has other meanings and the sense seems to be slightly different here. It’s a bit of a stretch; it’s a bit laboured.

I was advised to maybe check up on a facebook group called “Tesourinhos das Autárquicas” (clippings from the local elections) to get a flavour of what goes on in Portuguese local democracy. It’s a good way of getting some exposure to the language, culture and politics of the country, which can only be a good thing.

Finally, I said (in English) “I can feel a blog post coming on”, and that, apparently is “Cheira-me que vem aí uma publicação do blog”. It smells like there is a blog post coming. Smells? What are you implying? 🤔

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The Quix and the Dead

Reading a book this morning I came across an example of a word in the wild that I had never seen before

Quixitesco/a – meaning Quixotic. I believe the correct pronunciation is “key shot-esco”, based on hearing Booktubers pronounce the name Don Quixote and the only pronunciation quide I can find backs that up, although it’s Brazilian so there’s still a small shadow of doubt, but I’m fairly confident.

Anyway, it’s not exactly uncommon for me to spot new words in the wild, but I enjoyed this one so I thought I’d share!

By the way, the book is “O Vício Dos Livros” (addiction to books) by Afonso Cruz, one of my favourite Portuguese writers. His work is incredibly diverse, covering everything from children’s books to massive chunky tomes, but this one is very compact, neatly illustrated with short, digestible texts. The grammar is not too taxing, thank god, but the vocabulary is a bit harder so it’s a decent stretch read for a B1 or B2 student who doesn’t mind checking the dictionary from time to time. It’s also new, and very popular at the moment, showing up all over Portuguese bookstagram, and I am always, always on trend. 😉

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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.