Everything you need to know about lástimas and penas


Chorão (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.

lástima 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 – that is too bad!

que lástima – what a pity!

ser uma lástima – a) 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

lastimável 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. 🙂 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 lástima. 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 lástima, 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, é pena means it’s a pity or it’s too bad, que pena means what a pity or what a pain, and não 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 Raça Negra (Black Race) that uses the expression que pena frequently. It is entitled É 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 só você … Look at you alone
Depois de me perder  … After losing me
Veja só você  … See you by yourself
Que pena… Too bad

Você não quis me ouvir… You didn’t want to listen to me
Você não 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 não te quer  …Today it is me who doesn’t want you
O meu coração já tem um novo amor … My heart already has a new love
Você 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 não se faz … The dream that I dreamed, it didn’t come to pass
Você jogou fora a minha ilusão, a louca paixão… You threw away my illusion, the crazy passion
É 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!


One thought on “Everything you need to know about lástimas and penas

  1. Pingback: RaceRoom Racing Experience | Mega Curioso, noticias interatividade e muito mais para você

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