Posted in English

Fado Bicha

I heard this um… bloke? To be honest, I don’t know, but let’s say bloke because beard. So as I was saying, I heard this bloke on Cinco Para Meia-Noite and I think he has a really interesting voice, quite different from most fadistas, and yet, you know, the same. I can’t seem to find any music online other than on Youtube but I’m definitely adding a few videos to my PT Music playlist.

Posted in English

A bit disappointed

Well, I’ve done the exam. It went OK. I mean, I’ve no doubt I passed and with a better mark than last time, but I have a nagging feeling of disappointment that I didn’t smash it. I’ve had a whole year since I took the test for the first time and barely passed. Now I think I’ve bumped my mark up from “barely scraping by” to “not bad I suppose”. That’s not much to show for the effort I’ve put in (and I really have you know!)

Anyway, for now, I’m not going to be disheartened. I’ll crack on with what I was doing and maybe try to be more active in writing and talking. That seems to be the key, I think: producing language, not just passively absorbing it by listening or reading (although I will still be doing those things too)

Posted in English, Portuguese


Posted in English, Portuguese

Key Learnings 8 – MiniWriMo Gleanings

Jotting down a few notes from the feedback I’ve had on my epic sci-fi story so far:

Thoughts and Memories

I keep getting mixed up about how to use lembrar vs lembrar-se.

Lembrar is more like “to be reminiscent of”:

Essa música de Panic at the Disco lembra uma música mesmo parecida dos B-52s

….or if you sling a pronoun and a “de” into the mix, “remind”:

Essa música de Panic at the Disco lembra-me duma música mesmo parecida dos B-52s

Lembrar-se is most commonly “remember” and usually takes de:

lembrei-me dalguma coisa

…although I’ve seen it with “que”:

“lembrei-me que precisava…”=”I remembered that I need to…”

…or with nothing at all:

“para eles que se lembram”=”for those who remember”

Lembrar-se can have to do with a consciousness or awareness of something as well as actual memory. There’s another verb – recordar-se which is more specific and ONLY means to remember.


This is something I sort of new but keep forgetting because it’s so different from my own way of thinking:

“It was me who did that” isn’t “Foi eu que fez isso” as it would be in english but a more logical “Fui eu que fiz isso” (“I was me that I did that”).

On the other hand, “Está na hora” (“It’s on the hour”) never becomes “Estamos na hora”, it always stays in first person singular.

Fazers on Stun

I’ve been using “Faz-me pensar de…” (“It makes me think of”) but it seems you can’t use the same trick with adjectives “Faz me cansado” (“It makes me tired”) but you have to have a verb in there: “Faz me ficar cansado” (“It makes me get tired”), although actually now I’ve written that, there are better ways of saying the same thing.


Posted in English

Desperate Verb Tenses

So I had this exercise to do in a textbook. It was one of these choose-the-right-verb-tense exercises.

“É uma experiência que eu gostava que os meus filhos, um dia, quando ________ (ser) maiores, ______ (poder) experimentar”

I put in “forem” and “poderão” which was wrong but the answers given (“fossem” and “pudessem”) didn’t make any sense since it seemed to be talking about his (young) children in a hypothetical future, not his (grown) children in a remembered past.

There’s a long, detailed answer by Natan on iTalki in response to the query, spanning no fewer than 8 reply boxes.  It’s pretty strong stuff, but if you’re in the mood for a challenge, it’s worth it. Natan is Brazilian but knows the European variant inside out so don’t worry that he’s going to indoctrinate you into transatlantic heresy.

It probably boils down to this though: Portuguese and English can both use these speculative past/present tenses to talk about events in the future. In one possible translation, it comes out as “It is an experience that I’d be happy if my kids, someday, when they’re older, were able to experience”. As you can see not a future tense in sight: You’ve got “I would” (conditional), “they are” (present) and “were” which is either an imperfect indicative or a present subjunctive*. In Portuguese, the first box could be “forem” but “fossem” sounds more natural and there seems to be agreement that the second one can only be “pudesse”, not “poderão” or “poderiam” or anything else.

As the young people say: “I’m shook!”



*= present subjunctive would be my bet but secretly, I quite like that my language is relaxed enough that I don’t know or – if I’m honest – care which. We’ve always kept our grammar super-simple so as to allow plenty of linguistic brainpower free to invent new pointless synonyms for stuff.

By the way, I originally wrote the title of the iTalki question as “Tempos Verbais Desesperados” which means “Desperate Verb Tenses” which I think sounds pretty good – like a much nerdier version of “Desperate Housewives”. The current title uses “Inesperados” which is what I should have said: “Unexpected Verb Tenses”

Thanks to Natan – and to Sofia and Kamenko for their contributions too.


Posted in English

Another #MiniWriMo Update

I’m quite pleased with the way my short story is shaping up. I had a few short days because I couldn’t quite decide what to do with the story but I’ve got something now that I think will be at least passably readable. The discipline of doing it every day is helpful and I am learning by using new words and new phrases each day.

I don’t think I’ll be deluged with offers from publishers, but I think it’ll be readable and that’s as much as you can hope for in this life.

Posted in English

O Acordo Ortográfica

I’ve been meaning to write an article about the 1990 Acordo Ortográfica da Língua Portuguesafor a while now but never really felt up to it. There’s a really good video on YouTube though, of Portuguese humorist Ricardo Araújo Pereira, author of Reaccionário Com Dois Cês in conversation with Brazilian Renaissance man Gregório Duvivier, that makes a pretty good introduction to what it is, why it’s needed and why it falls miserably short. It’s a little hard to follow in places but not as bad as I expected. Both speak pretty clearly and I found I could laugh at the jokes as well as simply learning, which was a nice bonus.

Posted in English

#MiniWriMo update

I’m three chapters in on my portuguese short story. I’m not going to post it till I finish – or at least until I have a reasonable chunk done – enough to make a blog post. I am getting lots of help from some very kind people on iTalki

Posted in English, Portuguese

A Bacalhau

This is a translation of “A Bacalhau” by Ana Bacalhau from her new album “Nome Próprio”. If you’re reading this you probably know already that Bacalhau means “Cod” in portuguese, but if you didn’t then you do now, and hopefully this will all make perfect sense!

Dizem que há lá mil maneiras
They say there are a thousand ways 
De cozinhar bacalhau
to cook cod
E que só há mais Marias
And Marias are the only thing more common 
Que Anas em portugal
Than Anas in Portugal
Nasci eu Ana Sofia*
I was born Ana Sofia
Bacalhau na certidão
Bacalhau on the certificate
E desde dsse belo dia
And since thet beautiful day
Sou eu faço questão
It’s me that asks the question

Quando eu era pequenina
When I was little
Muitos achavam bizarro
Lots of people found it weird
Bacalhau de sobrenome
Bacalhau as a surname
Tornou-me num bicho raro
Made me a rare beast
E a mim que era gorducha
And to me, being chubby
Com este jeito engraçado
With this funny manner
Dava muito conteúdo
I gave a lot of material
Para piadas de miúdos
For the little boys’ jokes
E cochichos para o lado
And whispers to the side

Foi com isso que aprendi
And that’s how I learned
Que há sempre alguém no desdém
That there’s always someone who looks down on me
E se não gostas de ti
That if you don’t like yourself
Não há de gostar ninguém
There’s nobody else who’s going to like you
Desde então que decidi
Since then I decided
Vender o meu peixe bem
To sell my fish well
Ter orgulho no BI********
To have pride there
Valer-me do meu QI
Value myself for my IQ
E da minha voz também
And for my voice too

Ana é nome comum**
Ana is a common name
Mas é o meu nome próprio
But it’s my own name
E como é próprio de mim
And since it belongs to me
Não podia ser tão sóbrio
It can’t be very serious
Um bacalhau no fim
A Bacalhau, in the end
Tem um peixe por homónimo
Has a fish for a homonym
Fica tão bem assim
And that suits my just fine
Que parece um pseudónimo
Because it seems like a pseudonym 

Sou Ana para toda a gente
I’m Ana to everyone
E Ana só para o meu pai
And just Ana to my dad
Sofia só lá em casa
Just Sofia back home
No colo da minha mãe
In my mother’s lap
Bacalhau sou para os amigos
Bacalhau only for friends
Colegas de muita farra
Drinking buddies
Desde o liceu de benfica
Since we were at Benfica College
Há letras com as amigas***
There are lyrics with friends
Quando tocava guitarra
When I played the guitar

Sei que Ana é pequenina
I know that Ana is little
Mais condiz com a sardinha****
Better suited to a sardine
Com certeza que essa brasa
For sure, this charcoal
Tem de ser puxada à minha
Has to get pulled towards mine
Pois toda a gente diz
Because everyone says
Que assim se quer a mulher*****
What do you want the woman to do?
Sou dona do meu nariz******
I am the mistress of my nose
E como quero ser feliz
And since I want to be happy
Escolho o peixe que eu quiser
I choose what fish I prefer

Ana é nome comum**
Ana is a common name
Mas é o meu nome próprio
But it’s my own name
E como é próprio de mim
And since it belongs to me
Não podia ser tão sóbrio
It can’t be very serious
Um bacalhau no fim
A Bacalhau, in the end
Tem um peixe por homónimo
Has a fish for a homonym
Fica tão bem assim
And that suits my just fine
Que parece um pseudónimo
Because it seems like a pseudonym 

Já vos disse que sou Ana
I already told you I’m Ana
E que meu nome é cá da terra
And that my name is from my homeland
Porque lá na Noruega
Because there in Norway
Neva mais do que na serra
It snows more than in the mountains
Se já disse e então repito
If I already said it and then I repeat it
Isto não é nome artístico
That’s not an artistic name
E fica até bonito
And even suits me 
E de nome de registo
And my registered name
Passou a nome de guerra
Became a nom-de-guerre

Ana é um nome comum
Ana is a common name
Mas é meu nome próprio
But it’s my own name
E como é próprio de mim
And since it belongs to me
Não podia ser tão sóbrio
It can’t be very serious
Um bacalhau no fim
A Bacalhau, in the end
Tem um peixe por homónimo
Has a fish for a homonym
Fica tão bem assim
And that suits my just fine
Parece um pseudónimo
Because it seems like a pseudonym 

The portuguese lyrics were pinched from, credited to Wilson and FernandaR, a Portuguese teacher on iTalki has also given them the once-over to catch a few other errors.

*=The page I copied the lyrics from has “Mas se eu ana servi” and although it’s a Brazilian site so you’d expect them to speak better Portuguese than me, I still think I’m right and they’re wrong.

**=And this said “Ana é meu único nome” but that’s not what it sounds like at all

***=Not really convinced about this one but I don’t have a better suggestion so…

****=These lines refer to an idiomatic expression “puxar a brasa para a sua sardinha” which means “pull the charcoal to your own sardine” -i.e., further your own agenda, or look out for number 1.

*****=I’m not sure what’s going on here. It doesn’t seem to be an idiomatic expression but when I couldn’t crack the meaning, gTranslate pulled out a very specific, and apparently non-literal meaning.

******=Being the master of your own nose apparently means being independent and self-possessed.

*******=Originally “aqui” but I think she says “cá”. They don’t use “cá” much in Brazil, I believe.

********=Bilhete de Identidade. Seems an odd thing to have orgulho about but maybe just means “who I am”

Posted in English, Portuguese


Quem vende a liberdade em troca de segurança não merece nem liberdade nem segurança
Ben Franklin

I wrote this o iTalki after a (to me) somewhat surprising exchange with a Portuguese teacher who told me that Salazar was pretty good, rightfully still popular (for example….) and that if he were still in charge, everyone would be better off. Furthermore, the captains who deposed him in the Revolução Dos Cravos should have been locked up.

Discussing this opinion with other portuguese people, one said it was commonly held among less educated people (like voting Trump, like supporting Brexit…) and another said “replies “OMG a juventude de Portugal está perdida”


*=I originally wrote “cotação” which does mean “quotation” but in the sense of an estimated cost.


Muito Obrigado a Sofia, Natan, William pela ajuda