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 ingl√™sa' 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.

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