Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Seriously - Is It Really That Difficult?

The Portuguese swallow letters. Constantly. I know this because of my pathetic productive portuguese language development. Said swallowing is not helpful. Not even slightly. An example 'desculpe' - sorry. It's pronounced....shculp. Letters d and e rapidly ingested. Another one. 'mais ou menos' -ish/more or less, pronounced...mys o mensh. A, u and o scarfed. I could go on. I won't but I could.

So, you see the problems this incessant letter troffing can cause? It retards my progress. Just when ya think you've nailed a word or phrase...some dumb lost in translation moment occurs. Like the day I was out drinking with friends. I stuck with 1coke... the rest were quaffing silly amounts of vino and, it turned out, at my expense. Because when I went in to pay for a 2coffee, the bill was well in excess of €25. And why so? Simply due to the damn letter noshing. I thought the waiter'd asked me if that was it, I thought he'd said 'zero'...he hadn't. He'd said 'all'. As in 'are you paying for all the drinks?'. Of course I said yes, not realising he'd bloody well eaten a vowel and then verbally rearranged the damn words.

being British, with a poor command of the language, I did some swallowing of my own. My pride and my tongue. I just paid the bill and slinkied off with my coffee. Then, remaining true to my Britishness, I silently foamed outside, all the while watching my friends drinking my wine.

Anyway...I've discovered a cool way to upgrade my
Portuguese: taxi drivers. Why so? Simply because they jabber away, regardless of the fact that you can't speak the language. And it's always conversational chit-chat. Useful stuff indeed. I've lost count of the times I've climbed into a taxi, stated my destination, apologised for my crappy Portuguese ('sou inglêsa' does the trick...), and...despite stating the obvious, the taxi drivers still make conversation. In Portuguese. And, because I'm nothing if not polite, I feel obliged to talk. In short, for around €5, I regulary get direct transportation and a free language lesson. If you're trying to learn Portuguese, and you're in Portugal, my advice is: take taxis everywhere. Providing you've got a few quid, I reckon you'd be talking like a native in less time than it takes to house-train a man. At best, you may learn something. At worst...you'll crawl from the taxi feeling deeply embarrassed and incredibly silly...

...in conclusion, my opinion of the Portuguese language is this: It's a hard language to get your tongue/ears/head round. It's derived from Latin, has an Arabic influence and is widely spoken. It's also sneaky. Veryyyyy sneaky.

Disclaimer: I will not be held accountable for any ensuing outcomes should anyone choose to follow my DIY language advice. On your own head be it.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Roll On Spring!

Here comes February. Woohooo - one more wintery blah blah month behind me - roll on spring!
Actually it's quite warm ... weird. I'm de-layering - though with suspicion. I don't trust the weather simply because I'm from England. We don't have weather there. We just have lots of rain. The word 'weather' implies change. Raining every day simply isn't 'change'. It's just wet.

Simões tells me that it can be rather hot in February so I'm anticipatory as well as de-layering. I'll let you know if I get down to T-shirts and shorts ...

I stuck my head in the café downstairs this morning. Had a nice espresso and exchanged pleasantries with the owners. Who are ... somehow ... also my neighbours. Anyway the conversation is often fun in as much as I'm not sure each knows what the other is saying.

I'm British ... and they're not. I speak english. Their default language is portuguese. I think we're discussing things such as the weather, how we are and what we may or may not be doing later in the day. I've decided that comprehension is not quite so important as good manners and interaction. Not speaking a common language shouldn't deny us the ability to interact now should it? ...

Interestingly - they are picking up english. I'm not sure if they want to - but they are starting to say one and two words together. I find it curious. It's like we're toddlers ... learning to speak. We've gone from 'morning - bom dia' to 'how are you? - estou bem?'

Now we're getting complicated. We say things like 'I'm fine thankyou and you?' - 'esta bem obrigada e vocé?

Maybe in another month or so I'll be able to ask what their names are - or for something other than a coffee and a pack of cigarettes ...