Happy Easter, have you got enough dough?

Hello, it’s Easter and all around the world a lot of baking and cooking has been done in preparation. Even Bernardo has been busy in the kitchen, dunking tea bags in hot water. Those cultures that celebrate Easter probably have their own peculiar ways of doing it. In the Portuguese-speaking countries you will probably be offered massa sovada (which translates as kneaded dough, massa being the word for dough). It is a sweetbread. Like many Portuguese cakes and pastries, it has heaps of sugar and lots of egg in it. Some flour too, I would guess. If you want to know more just Google massa sovada and some recipes will pop up. A good Portuguese cook that I know (que se chama Maria) adds a nice touch – she boils eggs in water and cochineal (which, as I have just discovered by looking up that word, comes from a scale insect!) to give the eggshells a pinkish hue and then she puts the egg in the dough to bake. Here is a picture of the breakfast I am about to consume. I didn’t have a lens big enough to fit in my lunch ūüôā

Who needs sliced bread when you can eat a whole loaf? Bon appetit. Photo and styling: Bernardo (Note, the words styling and Bernardo rarely go together).

Who needs sliced bread when you can eat two whole loaves. Pass the high-fat butter, please. Bon appetit! Photo and styling: Bernardo (Note, the words styling and Bernardo rarely go together). All the hard work cooking: Maria De Sousa

Happy Easter in French is joyueses P√Ęques (for some reason it’s plural), in Portuguese it is feliz P√°scoa, in Spanish feliz Pascua, in Italian buona Pasqua and in Romanian it’s¬†Pa»ôte fericit.

The respective words for Easter egg are: oeuf de P√Ęques (F), ovo de p√°scoa (P), huevo de Pascua (S), uovo di Pasqua (I) and ouńÉ de Pa»ôte.

Thus wik I um en Orklind lurneng u niw lingweg: Nu Zilend lnglesh. Tha Keewees huff u cumplatly dufforont vuwal systim. Huppy Istar!


In pursuit of the hirsute

Pimpshop¬ģ mannequins with colourful wigs

The hair’s so bright, they’ve gotta wear shades. Pimpshop¬ģ mannequins with colourful wigs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every now and then you come across a word that appeals to you for no particular reason – it could be the look, the sound, or the imagery that it conjures up. Probably all three. While perusing my five Romance language dictionaries I came across their words for “wig”. Wig is a word that isn’t used much nowadays, but you never know, one day you might need it. You might be shopping in the fashionable districts of Paris, Lisbon, Madrid, Rome or Bucharest when all of a sudden you will be struck by a whim and say to yourself “I’m going to buy a wig!” Don’t laugh, you might just do it. Recently I went to a Roaring Twenties festival (the 1920s) and lots of people were wearing fabulous wigs. So you should add these words to your repertoire.

A wig in French is une perruque, in Portuguese it’s uma peruca, in Spanish una peluca, in Italian una parrucca and in Romanian it’s o perucńÉ. There, it’s easy! Now all you have to do is decide on the colour. Go for shocking pink.

Oh là là! C'est chic.

Oh l√† l√†! C’est chic, monsieur.

The word wig in English is a lazy and ugly sounding abbreviation of periwig, and English also has the word peruke, which was derived from the French perruque (the French must have set the trends in wig fashion in the 17th and 18th centuries).

So, to get you feeling bright and colourful, to make you feel happy and hirsute, I have incorporated some YouTube footage of a very lively French song with the word perruque in it. It is my favourite track off a compilation CD called Pop en Stock Vol 1, which I bought on my first trip to Paris as an adult. The CD came out in 1992 but it’s an “anthologie de la pop fran√ßaise des ann√©es 80s“. Yes, Bernardo is revisiting the 1980s, quelle surprise! The song is called Edith Nylon, by a group called Edith Nylon, it’s about a bionic woman and of course a robotic nylon girl has to wear a wig. It’s energetic and fast, so I have pasted the lyrics (les paroles) underneath. I love the guitar riffs that run underneath throughout played by¬†le mec (the guy) in the bright red pants and blue shoes. Give me Edith Nylon over Edith Piaf any day! Turn up the volume, jump around and enjoy. ūüôā

Je suis la femme bionique
artères antistatiques
perruque de Nylon
utérus en téflon
seins gonflés silicone
lèvres glacées de chrome
f√©mur d’acier tremp√©
trachée stérilisée

prothèse polystyrène
valvule de porcelaine
orbites moulés plastiques
100 % acrylique
cr√Ęne en os de corbeau
trompes modernes à pivot
vagin inoxydable
je suis interchangeable

Edith Nylon, Edith Nylon, Edith Nylon
c’est moi

Edith Nylon, Edith Nylon, Edith Nylon
c’est moi

If you want to discover or rediscover more French music from the 1980s this four-CD compilation would be a good starting point, and yes, it has Edith Nylon on it.

Goals galore in verbal warm-up for the next World Cup

FIFA World Cup 2014 logo.

Around about this time in all parts of the world qualifying matches are taking place to decide which teams will eventually make it to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup, or A Copa do Mundo as it is known in Portuguese. The Copa is going to be a linguistic treat. On my last trip to Brazil I was lucky to fit in a game at the Pacaembu stadium in S√£o Paulo – a seven-goal thriller between Corinthians and Cruzeiro – and I soon learned how to say derogatory things in Portuguese about the referee and his maternal heritage. It is not sufficient to learn the swear words and insults, you have to say them in the right way, with drama and passion. Don’t hold back! I think the next Copa Mundial will be fun. If you are planning on going, expect your vocabulary to be considerably broadened.¬†Certainly football terminology, particularly in Portuguese, will¬†feature in this blog as part of the build-up to¬†Brasil 2014¬†but I don’t think I will teach you how to swear at the referees, who in my opinion have a very difficult job.

In the European qualifying section I keep an eye on how the teams representing My Five Romances – France, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Romania – are doing. Last week there was big drama for Portugal and Romania: both were losing away from home but scored equalisers in added time to snatch a share of the spoils, Portugal drawing 3-3 against unfancied Israel in Tel Aviv, and Romania 2-2 against Hungary in Budapest (a match that no doubt would have been given added spice because of their cross-border rivalries and the fact that areas that parts of Romania were once part of Hungary and some Hungarians want them back).

F√°bio Coentr√£o lors d'un match amical Portugal...

He’s all concentration but don’t call him that. F√°bio Coentr√£o in action. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Portugal’s late equaliser came from¬†F√°bio Coentr√£o, who plays club football for Real Madrid, and some Spanish reporters have been known to accidentally call him F√°bio Concentra√ß√£o (which means Concentration). Clearly they are the ones who do not pay enough attention. You can watch F√°bio’s club and country teammate Cristiano Ronaldo give a Spanish reporter a lesson in Portuguese here.

Portugal has three daily newspapers dedicated solely to football (A Bola, O Jogo and Record), how great is that! Yup, each usually prints about 32 pages a day Рroughly 10 pages on Benfica, 10 on Sporting Lisbon, 10 on Porto and a mere two pages dedicated to the rest of Portugal and the world.

I thought it would be an interesting linguistic exercise to see what some Portuguese newspapers had to say about their team’s performance.¬†

A Bola (The Ball) had the simple headline Portugal empata em Israel (3-3) (empatar means to draw) and its opening line was A Seleção Nacional empatou a três golos com Israel, com um golo de Fábio Coentrão ao cair do pano a garantir um ponto precioso para na luta pelo segundo lugar do grupo F which means The national team drew 3-all with Isreal, with a goal by Fábio Coentrão in the dying minutes* to guarantee a precious point in the battle for second place in Group F. You can read the rest here.

The P√ļblico¬†newspaper’s headline was¬†Caiu um ponto no colo de Portugal em Israel¬†(A point falls in Portugal’s lap in Israel) and its next line was¬†A selec√ß√£o nacional esteve em vantagem, permitiu a reviravolta e chegou ao empate j√° em tempo de compensa√ß√£o. As contas do apuramento para o Mundial 2014 est√£o mais complicadas. This basically means The national team was ahead, but allowed itself to fall behind (reviravolta means u-turn, turnaround) and drew in extra time. The mathematics of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup are now more complicated.¬†You can read the rest here.

The Di√°rio de Not√≠cias¬†newspaper’s headline was¬†Portugal empata em Israel sem futebol digno de Mundial (Portugal draw in Israel without football worthy of the Cup). The opening of sentence/paragraph of its report was Portugal escapou √† derrota gra√ßas a um golo de F√°bio Coentr√£o, no per√≠odo de compensa√ß√£o, mas somou o quinto jogo sem ganhar e n√£o disfar√ßou as muitas fragilidades na sele√ß√£o treinada por Paulo Bento. This means Portugal escaped defeat thanks to a goal by F√°bio Coentr√£o, in injury time, but notched up a fifth game without a win and did not disguise the many fragilties in the team coached by Paul Bento.¬†You can read the rest here.

As you can see, Portuguese newspapers are fairly restrained. Where was the shock at the disappointing result, where were the outrageous tabloid headlines? Where were the puns?

* What is interesting is the variety of terms used to describe extra time, added time or injury time. A Bola used¬†ao cair do pano¬†which is a theatrical term meaning¬†at the final curtain (pano usually means cloth, cair means fall).¬†The other newspapers used em tempo de¬†compensa√ß√£o¬†or no periodo de¬†compensa√ß√£o¬†–¬†the time/period of compensation (for lost time).¬†In Brazilian newspapers you will often see nos acr√©cimosin additions.

You can see the six goals in Tel Aviv below but the footage is not the best, and it has been cobbled together starting off with commentary in English for the first goal but then switching to more dramatic Brazilian commentators for the rest. You will hear the commentator say¬†acr√©cimos after the last goal. Twice the commentator describes Israel’s second goal as uma bomba. I think you can guess that word’s most usual meaning, but in football terms in Brazil especially it means an explosive strike, a magnificent goal often scored from long distance. The more bombas you have in a game, the better.

The highlights of the Hungary-Romania match can be seen here – two field goals, two penalties and an incredible miss by the Romanian number 9 in front of an open goal! I think you will understand much of the commentators are saying.

One thing is for sure, Brazilian commentators can exclaim “gggoooooooooooolll!” much better than their Romanian counterparts can. (Goal is gol in both languages)

Portugal and Romania are both coming distant joint seconds in their qualifying groups (behind Russia and the Netherlands respectively) but teams that finish second in their groups can still have a chance of making it to Brazil. Italy are leading their group but Bulgaria are not far behind, while France and Spain are tussling for supremacy in their group, but France have made the better start. The two teams meet in Paris on Tuesday night (for me that’s Wednesday morning Australian time) in what could be the decisive game. If France win it will be hard for World Cup holders Spain to catch up with them. When they played in Madrid it was a 1-1 draw. Romania have a tough game away to the Netherlands and will be keeping a close eye on the Turkey-Hungary result. (Hungary and Romania both have 10 points and Turkey have six. Even a draw will be a good result for Romania.) Italy have what should be a fairly easy task away to Malta, whereas Bulgaria will be tested in Denmark. Portugal and Israel (both on 8 points) are away to Azerbaijan and Northern Ireland respectively.

Whatever your sport, may your team win or at least do you proud! Cheers, Bernardo ūüôā

Allo, allo, where are the Francophones anyway?

The spectacular beach of Grand Anse on the isl...

The spectacular beach of Grand Anse on the island of La Digue, Seychelles Fran√ßais : La plage magnifique de Grand Anse sur l’√ģle de La Digue, Seychelles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my recent posts on Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and Romanian I discussed where in the world you were likely to hear them spoken. For some reason, je ne sais pas pourquoi¬†(I don’t know why), I did not do the same for French (apart from saying they speak it in France, d’oh!). So to make up for that omission, here we will take a quick look at other places where you can practise your French and hopefully be understood by the natives. On most of the countries mentioned I have included a link to their entry in Wikipedia so that you can find out more about them if you want (I love armchair travelling), and that is why they appear in a light blue type.

All in all, according to Wikipedia, there are 29 countries where France is listed as an official language. The most obvious ones are those that border France, such as Belgium, Switzerland and Monaco, but you can go much further afield than that.

Ch√Ęteau Frontenac, Quebec City, Canada

Ch√Ęteau Frontenac, Quebec City, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You will also hear French spoken in Quebec and other parts of Canada, of course, although if you have ever seen any French-Canadian films you will notice that sometimes the accent and the slang can sound odd if you are not used to it. But as the French say, vive la diff√©rence.¬†Montreal and Quebec City are high up on the list of cities I want to visit, and the English-speaking parts of Canada are not bad either! Vancouver,¬†for example,¬†often features in the lists of the top 10 most livable cities in the world.¬†If you fancy an island holiday then¬†Seychelles, Reunion¬†La R√©union¬†or¬†¬†New Caledonia (Nouvelle-Cal√©donie) would be among the places to head for, although they are a bit out of the way, but worth getting to. Just look up¬†Isle of Pines¬†in New Caledonia on Google images, for example, and you will be met with a beautiful array of alluring scenes. If you are in the Caribbean, make the island of¬†Guadeloupe¬†a port of call. It, too, is an overseas region of France.¬†Mauritius¬†was once ruled by the French, so that’s another possibility.

A house from French colonial time (French West...

A house dating from French colonial time in Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

France also had many colonies in Africa – Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia up in North Africa; Ivory Coast (C√īte d’Ivoire)¬†and Cameroon (R√©publique du Cameroun)¬†in West and Equatorial Africa, to name just a few – although how widely French is spoken in¬†its former colonies can vary from country to country and the political attitudes towards France. Many former colonies have had to go through wars of independence. One of the best films I have seen on the French colonial wars was¬†Intimate Enemies, (L’Ennemi intime), made in 2007. Although it dealt with events in Algeria, the African scenes were apparently filmed in Morocco, and the mountain and valley scenery was stunning. I know southern Africa quite well, having lived in a number of countries there. Africa is a remarkably beautiful continent, but it seems to get a raw deal from the tourist industry. I suppose it is regarded as a bit rough and raw by the so-called “civilised world”, but often the rough and the raw can provide the most rewarding tourist experiences.¬†Follow your sense of adventure and give exotic Africa a go!

English: French colonial architecture in Hanoi...

French colonial architecture in Hanoi, Vietnam.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In South-East Asia, Vietnam and Cambodia were once part of what was known as French Indochina. Vietnam has become a trendy tourist destination nowadays and its capital, Hanoi, is known for its French colonial architecture. Probably they make nice croissants there too!¬†But in Asia, as in many parts of Africa, the French withdrawal from the colonies was often not a happy one and in Asia the conflict was particularly traumatic. By now, though, I should imagine that bygones have been allowed to be bygones.¬†Oublions le pass√©,¬†as the French say (Let’s forget the past).

So, there you have it, there are a lot of tantalising places in the world to choose from. Happy travelling, or bon voyage. And if there is no possibility of going to any of these places, you can always give your good old local Alliance Française a go. What would we do without them?

I have a plug-in that helps find pictures and images that I can use that have already been cleared for general use without contravening copyrights. I was looking for a map of the Francophone world and have included what it offered below, but for the life of me I could not blow it up to a decent size to make it more readable. You will have to use a magnifying glass. Sorry about that Рpardon, excusez-moi, je suis désolé.

Till next time,¬†√†¬†bient√īt, ¬†Bernardo ūüôā

English: Map of the whole French Empire, In da...

A map of the whole French Empire, In dark green, the first colonial empire, in light green the second colonial empire.¬† Une carte de tout l’Empire Fran√ßais, En vert fonc√©, le 1er Empire colonial. En vert clair, le 2eme Empire colonial (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Limber up for the limba rom√ĘnńÉ

We’ve been on the phone with the Francophones. We’ve opened a portal to Portuguese. We’re improving our histrionics with Hispanics and we’ve added to our tally with Italian. It’s time to turn our attention to the baby sibling of the My Five Romances family, the limba rom√Ęn√Ę, or Romanian language, the sole survivor of the Latin languages spoken in the old Eastern Roman empire. So let’s roam into Romania and find some exotic locations where we can have a chinwag with the locals who, in case you didn’t know,¬†love to chat.

Monastery of Horezu

The UNESCO World Heritage-listed monastery of Horezu. (Photo credit: Marcel Ionescu)

Luckily Romania is blessed with many beauty spots and has its fair share of UNESCO World Heritage sites, such as the Danube Delta, the Monastery of Horezu and the eight churches of southern Bucovina that are often labelled the painted monasteries.¬†In all likelihood, a trip to Romanian would involve Bucharest as a starting or leaving point (you won’t help but notice Ceausescu’s grand palace, which is now the house of parliament), but Brasov, Sighisoara and Sibiu feature most prominently on tour groups’ itineraries, and while you are exploring them do pop in and see Peles Castle and Bran Castle.¬†Nature lovers, meanwhile, should consider a hike in the Transylvanian Alps, part of the great Carpathian Mountains. Personally, I have a soft spot for Timisoara, partly because it looks very scenic in places and partly because of its importance in the events leading up to the Romanian revolution at the end of 1989 (a fascinating year for history and a busy year for journalism). You may also hear Romanian spoken in parts of Hungary and Serbia that are close to the Romanian border, and you will definitely hear it in Moldova, an area that was once part of greater Romania, once a Soviet socialist republic, and is now a republic in its own right. The capital is Chi»ôinńÉu and the state language(s) is (or are) Moldovan/Romanian – many linguists consider them to be the same.

So, when you wake up on a beautiful morning in Romania like the one in the photo on top, you will want to greet everyone. If they are not all beside you in your bed you will have to open your window wide, stretch and shout bunńɬ†diminea»õa¬†(good morning) to all and sundry (that t with a little squiggle underneath has an s sound, it is like the ts¬†in the Engllish word cats). Or you could shout bunńÉ ziua, good day. If, however, you are the kind of person who lies in bed all day and only gets up in the evening (it seems lots of people have Vampire fantasies nowadays) then you will have to shout bunńÉ seara. To wish someone good night is noapte¬†bunńÉ.

More casually, to say hello or hi you could just say¬†bunńÉ, or use salut, just like the French do. Noroc is one of those wonderfully versatile words that are good to have in your repertoire. It normally means luck or good luck, but can also be a hello or goodbye or even a bless you! (when someone sneezes).

There are various ways of saying How are you? A polite one is ce mai faceți? but there are also ce mai faci?, ce faceți? or cum esti?

The normal answer would be bine, mul»õumesc, fine thanks or¬†mul»õumesc foarte mult, meaning thanks very much. (Mult means much, mai mult means more, while din ce¬†√ģn ce mai mult is a way of saying more and more. Prea mult means too much). Or you could say bine, mersi, (which must be related to merci in French).¬†Once you have said you are bine, you can ask¬†»ôi tu?, which is the informal way of saying and you? The formal way is quite a mouthful,¬†»ôi¬†dumneavoastrńÉ? but if you are game to say it, go for it.

Peles Castle, Romania 2008

A romantic hideaway: Peles Castle, Romania  (Photo credit: codrinb2001)

Other expressions that are useful when having a conversation are¬†cu plńÉcere¬†(you’re welcome), pe cur√ģnd (see you latercur√ģnd means¬†soon), la revedere means goodbye (it must be related to the Italian arrividerci), while pa means bye.

If you get lost in the conversation a good word to have in your armoury is poftim¬†which is one way of saying pardon, but it could also mean what? or excuse me?, depending on your intonation.¬†(If you are really lost you could say Ai putea repeta? Nu am intelesCould you say that again? I didn’t understand ‚ąí but you are following my blog and you are intelligent people, you are supposed to understand! :). I don’t want to presume that you will be baffled and bewildered.)

By the way, if you hear a Romanian say¬†poftńÉ do not be alarmed ‚ąí¬†they are not calling you a poofter, they might be suggesting you go out for a meal together because¬†poftńÉ is appetite. PoftńÉ buna¬†is the equivalent of bon appetit.

Here is a song that I think you will like, and after you have listened to it just once I guarantee that you will be able to say¬†mul»õumesc with ease because it’s called I»õi¬†mul»õumesc (thank you) by a great Romanian band, Directia 5. I like the drumming in this song and the guitar work, which is a bit U2-ish. But what really makes this video fun to watch is the people in it, especially the children (copii). They look like a cheerful, contented bunch. Let’s hope they grow up to live happy lives. When I first saw this video I thought it was nice of the makers to include balding middle-aged blokes in it as well as pretty young things, but then I realised the balding blokes are the members of the band! Anyway, this videoclip is a homage to humanity, and if it is any indication of how friendly people are in Romania then I want to go there straight away! SńÉ mergem! Let’s go!

Below are some articles that will be of interest to anyone wanting to know a bit more about Romanian culture. Happy exploring.

Pe cur√ģnd, vńÉ doresc o zi bunńÉ – see you later, have a nice day ūüôā

Let’s chat up the gondolieri carissimi eccellentissimi

English: Taken from the Rialto Bridge, a lone ...

A lone gondolier takes his gondola up Venice’s Grand Canal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Attenzione prego, signore e signori! Your attention please, ladies and gentlemen!

Today we are going to Italy. Linguistically speaking. It’s a cheap way to travel. Where should we go?¬†Does nestling comfortably in a gondola and having a gondolier serenade you as the sights of¬†Venice¬†drift slowly by appeal to you? It does? Great! And as you are lining up at the quay and pondering which gondolier to pick (you would want to be serenaded by a gallant one, wouldn’t you?) you could do worse than to quote a few lines from Gilbert and Sullivan‘s operetta The Gondoliers

Hail, hail! gallant gondolieri, ben venuti!
Accept our love, our homage, and our duty.

After this, you might like to burst into song just as the chorus of lovelorn girls did when the two most dashing gondoliers, Marco and Giuiseppe, made their entrance on stage:

Gondolieri carissimi!.…. Dearest gondoliers
Siamo contadine ¬† …… We are peasants (you might like to change this line to suit your professional standing)

To which the gondoliers reply:

Servitori umilissimi.…. Your most humble servants¬†
Per chi questi fiori       For whom are these flowers
Questi fiori bellissimi?  These most beautiful flowers

And then you sing:

Per voi, bei signori… For you, good gentlemen,
O eccellentissimi!.… Oh most excellent!

Keep a bunch of flowers handy, in case the lagoon is a bit smelly that day, so you can sniff the flowers as you go boating. Then when you step off the gondola at the end of the journey you can hand them over to your gallant gondolier.   

If you don’t want to be so dramatic, you could do as the Romans do when in¬†Rome, (quando a Roma vai, fai come vedrai).¬†Florence¬†will have to be on the itinerary, of course, and maybe the Amalfi Coast, Lake Como or the isle of Capri.¬†But really, anywhere will do –¬†Italy is one of the perennial top tourist destinations, and understandably so.

Leichhardt, Italian Forum, Norton Street

Like Venice but without the water: The Italian Forum in Norton Street, Leichhardt, one of the inner-western suburbs of Sydney. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of course, Italian is spoken outside of Italy, notably in Switzerland, but also in parts of Croatia and Slovenia, San Marino, Monaco, Malta, and in Italy’s former colonies in Africa, such as Eritrea. In Australia, both Sydney and Melbourne have a “Little Italy” – head for the Italian Forum on Norton Street and Lygon Street, respectively.¬†If you can’t get to these places just pop into your local Italian restaurant and practise your Italian on the staff. Just remember, if you see burro on the menu, it’s butter and not donkey!¬†

Okay, let’s get talking… to talk is parlare and to talk shop is parlare di lavoro or parlare di affari (lavoro being work or labour, and¬†affari being used in the plural to indicate business affairs or matters. The singular is affare and naturually it’s a masculine word.) To chat is chiacchierare and to chat on the internet is chattare.

So, your conversation could go somewhat along these lines…

English: Lygon, Melbourne, Little Italy

A good place for spaghetti¬†… Lygon, Melbourne’s “Little Italy” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Buongiorno will do for good morning or good afternoon and then you can use buonasera for good evening. (Buongiorno, like bonjour in French, means good day). Less formally you could say ciao, meaning hi (although, oddly, it also means goodbye), or you can say salve, meaning hello, greetings etc. Then to ask, how are you?, you can use either come stai or, more formally, come sta? To this you could reply, bene, grazie, meaning fine thanks, or benissimo, meaning very well. And if you feel like being really thankful Рand why not, people enjoy such exuberance Рyou could say grazie molto, meaning thanks very much, or if you really want to count your blessings, grazie mille, a thousand thanks, which is one better than 999 thanks. Go the whole hog!

If you are not feeling bene, when people ask you how you are you might say cosi cosi, meaning so-so (it’s like the French comme ci, comme¬†√ßa)

Don’t forget to ask your companion how they are – say e tu? in an informal context or e Lui? (formal), meaning and you?

Incidentally, the most usual word for morning in Italian is mattina, and if you did want to say good afternoon it would be buon pomeriggio. But that is a bit of a mouthful and you can see why buongiorno is preferred. To say goodnight is buona notte.

Keep following the blog and hopefully in a decade or two your Italian will be eccellente, if not eccellentissimo.

Bye for now, ciao, arrividerci, a presto, Bernardissimo¬†carissimo¬†eccellentissimo¬†ūüôā

Styler (r) as Giuseppe in The Gondoliers with ...

♦Next time you get invited to a fancy dress party, why not go dressed as a gondolier? 

Just look at these wonderful outfits in the Gilbert and Sullivan productions down the years. You must have something similar in your wardrobe. Don’t your pyjamas look something like this?

The top picture top right shows Leonard Osborn (left) as Marco and Alan Styler as Giuseppe in a production that must have taken place in the late 1940s or early 1950s.

How could peasant women resist those wonderful socks and headgear!

Rutland Barrington and Courtice Pounds as Gius...

The bottom picture shows Rutland Barrington and Courtice Pounds in a production dating from round about 1889. 

Personally I prefer the 1940s look.

The expressions on Pounds and Barrington’s faces suggests they are thinking “Do I look naff in this?”

Anyway, you can see why Italy sets the trends and is the fashion capital of the world! ūüôā

Photo credits: Wikipedia

Everything you need to know about l√°stimas and penas


Chor√£o (Photo credit: murilocardoso)

Hello, here is a quick follow-up to my post on the death of Chorão, the lead singer of Charlie Brown Jr. One of my friends in Brazil described the incident as uma lástima. I had not heard of this word, so I had to look it up in my Michaelis Moderno Dicionário Inglês-Português  Português-Inglês which I bought at a bookshop in Ipanema in Rio de Janeiro when I had a three-month holiday in Brazil in 2003. Happy memories! That was one of the best holidays of my life, and I loved browsing in the bookshops and music stores there.

This is what I found in the dictionary.

l√°stima noun 1) compassion, pity; 2) pain, heartache; 3) lamentation, complaint, wail, weeping, moan; 4) grief, sorrow; 5) (figurative) worthless or troublesome person or thing

é uma lástima Рthat is too bad!

que lástima Рwhat a pity!

ser uma lástima Рa) to be a problem; b) to be hard to handle; c) to be a good-for-nothing; d) to be a poor wretch

lastimadoadjective 1) deplored, lamented; 2) Brazilian usage wounded, bruised

lastimadornoun, masculine 1) lamenter, complainer, whiner; – adjective 1) pitiful, distressful, sad; 2) complaining

lastimadura noun, feminine, Brazilian usage  bruise, wound, contusion

lastimar verb 1) to deplore, regret, lament; 2) to bemoan, bewail; 3) to grieve, worry, hurt; 4) to pity, feel sorrow for, commiserate; 5) Brazilian usage to wound, bruise

lastimar-sereflexive verb, to complain dolefully

lastim√°vel adjective 1) pitiable, pitiful; 2) lamentable, deplorable

lastimosoadjective 1) pitiful, doleful; 2) lamentable; 3) wailing

Now for some adverbs. On the whole I am fond of Portuguese adverbs, they are so long and musical. ūüôā Usually the suffix is -mente which in European Portuguese is pronounced like meant, in a clipped fashion, but in Brazilian Portuguese it is much more flamboyant and emphatic and is pronounced men-chee

lastimavelmente – 1) pitiably; 2) lamentably

lastimosamente –¬†1) pitifully;¬†2) wailingly

Some guidelines on the pronunciation of l√°stima. Normally in Portuguese the stress falls on the penultimate syllable of a word. If it doesn’t, an accent is used to indicated where the stress should fall. With¬†l√°stima, the first syllable is stressed so you would pronounce it as LAHsteema. (The i in Portuguese has more of an English e sound. Whereas the Portuguese word¬†e, meaning and, is pronounced eh, rather like the e in check.) Note, however, that in the other related words listed above there is no¬†stress on the first syllable. Lastimoso, for example, would be pronounced lastiMOso.

Another word for pity in Portuguese is pena. For example,¬†√© pena means it’s a pity or it’s too bad, que pena means what a pity or what a pain, and n√£o vale a pena¬†is a very popular expression meaning it’s not worth it. However, pena can also mean a feather, plume or quill; a pen or nib; a composition or writing; a penman, writer or author; suffering, pain or affliction; sorrow pity or compassion. Leve como uma pena means as light as a feather, sem penas means featherless, and pena capital is capital punishment.

Here is a well-known song in the pagode genre by Ra√ßa Negra¬†(Black Race) that uses the expression que pena frequently. It is entitled¬†√Č Tarde Demais¬†– It’s Too Late. It’s a song about unrequited love, and many artists in Brazil have used it in their repertoire. I like the melody, and at times it seems like the lead singer has a slight lisp, which somehow adds to the poignancy. See what you think.

Here is my very rough translation of the lyrics

Olha s√≥ voc√™ … Look at you alone
Depois de me perder ¬†… After losing me
Veja s√≥ voc√™ ¬†… See you by yourself
Que pena… Too bad

Voc√™ n√£o quis me ouvir… You didn’t want to listen to me
Voc√™ n√£o quis saber… You didn’t want to know
Desfez do meu amor…. Stripped of my love
Que pena… Too bad (or what a pity))

Hoje é você que está sofrendo amor.. Today it is you who is suffering love
Hoje sou eu quem n√£o te quer ¬†…Today it is me who doesn’t want you
O meu cora√ß√£o j√° tem um novo amor … My heart already has a new love
Voc√™ pode fazer o que quiser… You can do what you like

Você jogou fora o amor que eu te dei.. You threw away the love that I gave
O sonho que sonhei, isso n√£o se faz … The dream that I dreamed, it didn’t come to pass
Voc√™ jogou fora a minha ilus√£o, a louca paix√£o… You threw away my illusion, the crazy passion
√Č Tarde demais… It’s too late
Que pena…. what a pity
Que pena, amor … what a pity, love
Que pena
Que pena, amor

So, is he still in love or is he indifferent? If the former, I would translate que pena as what a pity. If the latter, I would say, too bad!

Let’s chat up a few million Spaniards and have nice days

English: La Giralda at dusk, the tower of the ...

A nice place for a conversation: La Giralda at dusk, the tower of the Cathedral of Seville, as viewed from the Plaza Virgen de los Reyes in Seville, Spain. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Okay, so far we have chatted up the French and we have made acquaintance with Portuguese-speaking people in places such as Angola and Brazil as well as the mother country. My, we do get around. Now we are going to charm the pants off (it’s a metaphorical expression) those who speak Spanish, the most widely spoken of the Romance languages (see the item Five is a plucky number). And don’t forget, after this we still have to chat up the Italians and Romanians. We are embarking on what you might call a charm offensive. (To charm in Spanish is encantar, as it is in Portuguese, and obviously enchant is a related word. And if you said encantado – or encantada if you were a woman – in an exclamatory tone it is a way of saying pleased to meet you.)

So, where would we like to be chatting up the Spanish speakers? We could be in one of the big cities in Spain, such as¬†Madrid, Barcelona or Seville, or in one of that country’s many lovely lesser known cities, such as Salamanca or C√°ceres (see my travel piece on the latter here).

English: Early morning in wonderful Machu Picchu

Maravilloso: Early morning in wonderful Machu Picchu (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But you could just as easily be somewhere in South America. How great it would be to have a conversation at Machu Picchu in Peru, for example, or in Quito in Ecuador or¬†Cartagena in Columbia, which I have heard are well worth a visit.¬†Alas, the only parts of Spanish South America I have been to are Buenos Aires and nearby Tigre, where the great¬†Paran√°¬†River¬†forms a delta as it empties into the¬†Rio de la Plata. ¬†As for the reach of Spanish, there is Central America too, of course, and it is now an important language in the United States. If those places don’t take your fancy you could head to Cuba and other islands in the Caribbean. One thing is for sure, there are many exotic places where you can practise your Spanish.

Right, let’s get started (to begin is empezar or comenzar). When you first greet someone you say buenos d√≠as, buenas tardes or buenas noches – note that the Spanish are very generous and they do not wish you one good day, afternoon or night, they wish you many. Isn’t that wonderfully generous. You can see from the agreement of nouns and adjectives that d√≠a is a masculine word and that tarde and noche are feminine. More casually you could just say hola, hello.¬†

To ask how are you?, you would say c√≥mo est√°? If you are unlucky the answer to this may be¬†no me siento bien, meaning¬†I don’t feel very well, but hopefully you will get¬†muy bien, gracias. Y usted?, as in very well thanks, and you?.

Less formally, if you were chatting to a friend, you would say¬†c√≥mo est√°s? and the answer back would be¬†muy bien, gracias. Y t√ļ? See my explanation of which ‘you’ to use.

Bien¬†is a key word which has many uses, most of them to do with wellness, but one of the more unexpected uses is bien … bien for either … or: for example,¬†bien en coche bien en tren, either by car or by train. And bien can mean very, as in bien caliente, meaning very warm or hot.

Incidentally (a prop√≥sito), the word for morning is ma√Īana, and you are probably familiar with the expression hasta¬†ma√Īana, meaning see you tomorrow (as in the sense of until tomorrow).

Some expressions that I hope you will use often are estar de buenas, to be in a good mood, and que pase un buen dia, have a nice day.

On that cheerful note, I shall leave you. Hasta prontosee you soon. ūüôā

Here is ABBA‘s Spanish version of Hasta ma√Īana

Farewell to one of the great voices in Brazilian rock

On my first trip to Brazil, whenever I heard a great rock song on the local radio, I asked one of our hosts who was playing. ‘Um, it must be Charlie Brown Jr,” was always the answer. I don’t think our host liked rock music and Charlie Brown must have been the only local rock band he knew! It turns out that only one of the songs that I particularly liked on that trip in 2003 (S√≥ por uma noite, meaning Only for one night or For one night only) was by Charlie Brown (the rest were by the likes of Capital Inicial, Detonautas Roque Clube, CPM 22 etc) but I figured Charlie Brown must be pretty good too so I bought what was then their latest CD,¬†Bocas Ordin√°rias,¬†on spec, and have followed them on and off since. In truth, they are a mixed bag: some of their stuff is really great, some of their material is too “way out there” for my liking, but they were pioneers on the Brazilian music scene. You could call them the Brazlian Red Hot Chilli Peppers. They are from Santos on the S√£o Paulo coast and twice won the Grammy Latino award for best rock album. Incidentally I am not a great fan of rap but I think Brazilian Portuguese is a great language to rap in.

This week a Brazilian friend posted on Facebook a report from a Sao Paulo newspaper, Estad√£o, that the lead singer of Charlie Brown Jnr, who was nicknamed Chor√£o, had died at the age of 42. The report in Portuguese is¬†here, written in a very factual way, while one in English can be found here. Chor√£o apparently wasn’t the most pleasant of characters (he verbally abused a fellow band member for more than four minutes over the microphone in the middle of a concert, prompting the band member to storm off stage), but it’s not for me to judge the personal differences between band members, apart from the fact that they shouldn’t be aired on stage! Rock music is full of troubled souls, anyway. The word chor√£o¬†means a whimperer, whiner, crybaby or sniveller, and it is also a weeping willow. Make of that what you will!

At the top of this article is a YouTube posting of an MTV acoustic set version of possibly my favourite Charlie Brown Jr song Tudo Mudar (como pode tudo mudar means how can everything change). It will give you a good idea of Chor√£o’s vocal prowess, as well as that of the guitarists. For those who are not familiar with the band, the Ac√ļstico MTV CD or DVD from 2003 is probably the best place to start. But the “electronic” version of Tudo Mudar, from the album Nadando com os Tubar√Ķes (Swimming with the Sharks), released in 2000, is really great too. The vocal effects are really good, as indeed is the guitar work. Here it is:


Sydney goes Gallic, hear those Fraussie accents

Arly Jover, who was born in Spain but went to Hollywood and now lives in France, plays an Australian journalist in Antarctica in the film Haute Cuisine. The resulting accent is quite something!

Arly Jover, who was born in Spain but went to Hollywood and now lives in France, plays an Australian journalist in Antarctica in the film Haute Cuisine. The resulting accent is quite something!

I had the pleasure of attending the opening night of the Alliance Fran√ßaise French Film Festival in Sydney. It is, according to the president of the local Alliance, the largest of the 10 foreign language film festivals held in Australia. The Italian Film Festival¬†and the Spanish Film Festival¬†are pretty big too, as is the Greek festival. In the past couple of years there have been a couple of Portuguese and Brazilian film festivals too (albeit mini ones but they have been a welcome edition to the local scene) and you sometimes see Brazilian films at the rather sporadic South American or Latin American film festivals we have here. We definitely don’t have a Romanian film festival! The major film festival is the Sydney Film Festival where you can see films from many countries. In Australia we are also lucky that we have some ¬†channels (SBS and World Movies) dedicated to multiculturism and foreign films.

More than 40 films will be screened at the 2013 French film festival, in six of our capital cities (Hobart and Darwin are the two capitals that miss out). If I make a real effort and go to about half a dozen films at the festival I can usually dream in French for a couple of nights afterwards. (Alas this year I won’t be able to see many films). I was surprised to learn that there are 30 Alliances Fran√ßaises in Australia.

How about some finger food? Catherine Frot in Haute Cuisine.

How about some finger food? Catherine Frot in Haute Cuisine.

The opening night film was called Haute Cuisine in English, but its French title is Les Saveurs du Palais (the savours of the palace). It was based roughly on some episodes in the life of Dani√®le Mazet-Delpeuch, who was a private chef of the former president Fran√ßois Mitterrand.¬†Dani√®le was a speaker at the screening, but because she had to divide her time between three cinemas she didn’t really have time to say much.¬†As a film Haute Cuisine¬†was more of a light meal than something satisfying: it was basically food porn. You never really got to know the characters and their motivations (although Catherine Frot, who is a splendid actor, was really good in the main role, for which she was nominated for a C√©sar award), and there was a rather muddled link to Australia (Spanish-born actress Arly Jover plays an Australian journalist and makes a real hash of doing the Aussie accent. She looks like a younger version of former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark and her accent was more Kiwi than Australian. Why didn’t they get an Australian actor to play the role?). But the behind-the-scenes look at the bureaucracy and the pomp and ceremony of modern day politics were amusing, and some of the scenes focusing on humankind’s fragilities (notably the battle of a woman in a man’s world) were moving. Mitterand was made to look a bit like an idiot, but at the same time his desire to escape the complicated, modern world and go back to a simpler time (his grandmother’s kind of cooking) will probably resonate with many people in the world today.


Lescop, who is not a cop, he is a pop noire artiste. But his song posted below is about gunshots in the forest, so maybe he should call les cops (Photo: Marc Wathieu)

If it is French film festival time in Sydney it also means it’s time for another release of the So Frenchy, So Chic compilation CDs. From what I heard during the trailers at the festival, this year’s two-CD set sounds really good. The series is a great introduction to contemporary French music. Here is the information on the 2013 offering at the Sanity online music store and below is the official video of one of the tracks, La For√™t, by a sultry Frenchman who goes by the name Lescop. The words are easy to hear and the English translation is provided on screen. For those who like labels, he is apparently part of the ‘pop noire’ or ‘cold wave’ genre.