Posted in English, Portuguese

Ciúme – Translation

I’ve been trying to translate this new Ana Bacalhau song. It’s pretty difficult. I get the general gist: she’s describing her jealousy as a gift she gives. The actual language isnt easy though and I have probably made a load of mistakes.

Mais que uma rosa
More than a rose
Mais que um perfume
More than a scent
Dou-te uma cena de Ciúme
I give you a sense of jealousy
Faço prova aparatosa
I make a huge proof
Do meu amor por ti
Of my love for you
De peito* aberto
With an open heart
Cabeça ao lume
Head aflame
Mostro-te as minhas feridas de guerra
I show you my battle scars
Gentileza que o peito descerra
Kindness that my heart unlocks
Aceita o meu ciúme
Accept my jealousy
À vista de todos por cortesia
In the sight of everyone as a courtesy
Salta-me a tampa
My lid flies off
Vou ao teto
I’m going to the cieling
Como quem cede um afeto
Like someone who gives affection
Em plena luz do dia
In the plain light of day
Ciúme que não sai do peito
Jealousy that doesn’t leave the heart
É espinho que corta a direito
Is the thorn that cuts right through
E queima como sal
And burns like salt
A ferida onde fermenta todo o mal
The injury where the all the evil lies
Podes soltar aos quatro ventos
You can release the four winds
Podes não contar a ninguém
You can’t count on anyone
Mas toma conta dos meus tormentos
But take account of my torments
Como um presente de quem te quer bem
Like a present from a wellwisher
Guarda esta birra de menina
Keep this temper tantrum
Aceita a minha gentileza
Accept my kindness
Guarda com uma certeza
Keep it as a certainty
De haver quem te queira assim
That someone wants you like this 
E se eu às vezes abuso do meu
And if I sometimes abuse my own
É porque nunca acusas o toque
It’s because you never acknowledge the touch
Ciúme que não sai do peito
Jealousy that doesn’t leave my heart
É espinho que corta a direito
Is the thorn that cuts right through
E queima como sal
And burns like salt
A ferida onde fermenta todo o mal
The injury where the all the evil lies


*=Peito actually means “breast” but “heart” was the only way I could make it sound non-ridiculous in english.

Posted in English, Portuguese

Adventures in Bilingual Instagramming

I’ve been trying to write most of my instagram posts in both english and portuguese recently. It’ a good way of getting some daily practice without feeling the need to write a whole mini-essay in iTalki. Here is a sampling of posts from our recent trip to the Hay on Wye literary festival for example. I usually prefix each section with the emoji flag of the UK and Portugal, which works well on the telemóvel but in a laptop browser it just shows as “GB” and “PT”


🇬🇧 At last, a good use for cars. 🇵🇹 Finalmente, há um bom uso para carros

Uma publicação partilhada por 18ck (@18ck) a

🇬🇧 The batcave 🇵🇹 A caverna dos morcegos

Uma publicação partilhada por 18ck (@18ck) a

🇬🇧 All over for the day 🇵🇹 Já acabou por hoje #hay30 #hayfestival

Uma publicação partilhada por 18ck (@18ck) a

Posted in English

Corre Bem Até Agora

Well, Salvador Sobral is smashing the Eurovision… 


Ganhou! Tão bom! Uma vitória para o Salvador e para o povo português. Parabéns! 

Posted in English

What Language Are We In? 

I’ve just heard two people speaking Spanish, and as we were stuck in a lift together I tried to dredge up some of the Spanish I learned at uni. “Espanhóis?” I asked, falling at the first hurdle. And it went downhill from there, with Portuguese words tumbling out one after the other. 

Although it was a but toe-curling, I was secretly pleased since it usually happens the other way around – I’ll wish an in-law Feliz Cumpleanos or something. So,  progress of sorts! They were Argentinian by the way. I told them I hoped they enjoyed their stay. In English. 


Hm, I’m starting to fret now that maybe they thought that I thought they speak Portuguese in Argentina. Maybe they are in a room in the 4th floor now saying indignantly to each other “What, does he think we’re a southern province of Brazil or something?” 


Posted in English

Birds and Bad Words (Pássaros e Palavrões)

Today I had a lesson with a Portuguese teacher via Skype. She follows me on Instagram so she asked me about a picture I’d posted of some birds that have made a home in a nesting box on our allotment. So I described them, but I hit a problem fairly early on: I don’t know the names of many birds. Let’s see… umm… corvo (crow), pomba (pigeon), farm birds like Ganso, Pato, Galinha, Peru, um… what else? Ostrich, I think is avestruz, eagle is… águia (I needed spellcheck’s help even on that one), owl is coruja (I only know this from reading Harry Potter e a Pedra Filosofal), and melro-preto I know from a song is a blackbird. That’s about it. Sadly, the nesting birds were not blackbirds, nor owls, much less ostriches, so that put paid to that. So I went to my old friend google translate to find out how to say “blue tits”. If you’re british you know blue tits and great tits are real birds whose place in the comedy double-entendre pantheon of our island nation is inestimable. But the reason the liked of Benny Hill have been able to exploit their comic potential is that “tit” also means something else.

Here’s what I got:


I was none the wiser. Should I just blurt it out and hope she didn’t burst out laughing? I blurted, while simultaneously plugging the words back into google search and was reassured to see lots of images of actual feathery blue tits.  This is one of those times when the choice of tools matters though because if I’d used Bing Translate I would have got this…


…which actually does mean blue breasts (bit not the cruder “tetas” which is more of a direct equivalent for “tits”).

Bird names are a minefield, actually. There’s a bird called a shag and another called a booby. It’s almost as if, when Adam named all the animals, he started getting bored by the time he reached the birds and decided to see what he could get away with.

So what’s the message? Something about not letting Bill Gates teach you how to speak a language, I think.


Posted in English

Portuguese With Carla #newPodcastKlaxon

I came across a new European Portuguese podcast today. Clipboard01Well, truth be told, it has been around since 2014 but it took a huge break for a couple of years and has just rematerialised on iTunes. It’s called Portuguese With Carla. It seems pretty easy, suitable for beginners, so if you’re at the A1/A2 level you should definitely give it a look. I don’t know that I am going to follow it because I think I’m past the point at which it can help me but I’ll try some of the later episodes first though, to see if it’s a bit more challenging. I could use a new podcast now that Say it in Portuguese has introduced a brazilian co-host (boooo!) and Practise Portuguese has slowed its output while the boys build their infrastructure and their business.

Posted in English

May I Be Of Assistance? 

I’ve always thought of the verb Assistir as a straightforward false friend, meaning, as it does, to attend or spectate at an event, and has nothing to do with helping or supporting any way. But today I was reading the book “Trilby” by George Du Maurier, written at the back end of the nineteenth century and I came across this sentence

And, indeed, here was this immense audience, made up of the most cynically critical people in the world, and the most anti-German, assisting with rapt ears and streaming eyes at the imagined spectacle of a simple German damsel, a Mädchen, a Fräulein, just “verlobte”—a future Hausfrau—sitting under a walnut-tree in some suburban garden

That really sounds like a very Portuguese use of the word “assist”. So I looked in my trusty Chambers and it turns out that assist had, in Shakespeare’s day, much the same meaning as its cognate does in Portuguese. What’s more, when I checked the priberam online dictionary I found that Assistir has several senses, including the British one. They give as it’s synonyms Ajudar, Socorrer and Cooperar.

So what we have is a word with two distinct meanings, in the process of diverging, where one sense is dominant in English and the other in Portuguese, but while the lesser sense is still used in Portuguese, the lesser sense in English has all but faded away to nothing.