Drag out your inner îndrăgostit

Voltaj concert at Disco Ring

Voltaj in concert. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the post D is for devious virgins, which I am sure many people latched on to in the hope of delving into deviousness themselves, haha, I mentioned that dragoste was the Romanian word for love. A related word, one which you will often come across in music, is îndrăgostit (îndrăgostită in the feminine form), which is an adjective meaning “in love with”. The verb is a se îndrăgosti (de cineva), “to fall in love (with someone)”. A related adjective is îndrăgit or îndrăgită in the feminine, meaning “loved, beloved”. This weekend, if you follow my instructions, you are going to use the language of love and have a nice meal to boot. Language can’t be all theoretical, it has to be put into practice.

Here are some musical examples of this word from songs that I quite like.

Flower photo

Flowers can get very perky when their mistresses have big boobs.  (Photot: @Doug88888)

The first is a recent hit, Pic Pic, by Voltaj. I find this song a little bit annoying in the verses but very catchy in the chorus, which I hum to myself quite often. I might even dance to it if no one is looking. There is a melodic la la la la-la bit near the end too. In other words, don’t judge this song by the first few (dozen) bars, let it grow on you. The chorus is simple: Sunt un pic pic, îndrăgostit  (repeated four times). Sing along with it and after playing it once or twice you will at least have thoroughly mastered four words in Romanian – un pic means “a little, a pinch, or slightly”, and sunt is “I am”. The video clip is clever in parts and has an amusing, unexpected ending. In the beginning, though, it just looks like another band is using a buxom woman to parade around in low-cut clothing to help sell the song, but if big boobs are your thing you will enjoy this part of the video too. Another verb meaning “to love” in Romanian is a iubi…in the videoclip you will see “iubi” appearing on the model’s computer and phone, which is why the pot plant gets jealous.

Moving along to the second example, a popular song from a very boyish former winner of the Romanian version of the X Factor talent contest, Andrei Leonte. I think he has a great voice. The word appears in the first line of the song: Nu pot să cred că sunt îndrăgostit (“I can’t believe I’m in love”). I have pasted two versions, the first was the original pop/dance release (nice tune, silly video though, see my comments at bottom) and the second is an acoustic version for more mature audiences haha. The song title is Te iubesc căt doi, which means something like “I love you as much as two”.

Now for the more acoustic version, which shows that he can sing really well “live” … and also that this song when pared back is so much more than just a pop ditty. The second half of this clip includes an interview with Andre in Romanian.

YOUR ROMANCE LANGUAGE PRACTICAL HOMEWORK THIS WEEKEND:

  1. Line up a hot date and organise a romantic, candlelit dinner.
  2. During the main course whisper Sunt  îndrăgostit (if you are a woman use the feminine form îndrăgostită). Better not say un pic îndrăgostit because that could be deemed insulting (“What do you mean – you’re just a little bit in love?” Slap!). 
  3. During dessert lick some cream off your spoon then murmur Te iubesc in your most seductive purr. This should sends shivers down your loved one’s spine. If not, it means you are not licking your spoon correctly.

Back to the real world: An English version of the Andre Leonte song was also released. The video to it is the same as the Romanian version, except instead of prancing around in the fields and miming in the latter, he mimes in the former. The video looks like it was shot at one of the more secluded spots on the Black Sea. I don’t think much of Andrei’s bush tucker scavenging skills: if I was camping with him and all he could come up with for breakfast was a few berries and leaves and a slab of honey that looks suspiciously like it had been carved from a packet, I would send him away, saying “I don’t do herbal teas, go hunt the eggs and bacon and sausages please”.

For what it’s worth, here is the English version, Love Another Day.

Finally, forgive me for harping on a bit about Romanian at the expense of the other languages. I guess I am just trying to consolidate what I learned on my summer language course there, or am trying to cling on to it before I forget it all completely. It’s scary how quickly you lose a language all once you are out of its natural environment. I will try to add a bit more linguistic variety in the coming weeks. Till then, cheers

D is for devious virgins

D

(Photo credit: chrisinplymouth)

In English, many of the words beginning with D seem to be tinged with a thrilling emotional or sensational intensity. Daring, dangerous, daunting, dreadful, delectable, delicious, distressed, devastated, devilish, diabolical, drenched, dribbling, devouring, disgusting, dramatic, dastardly, desirable, dire, dingy, deplorable, deadly, dominatrix, destroyer, drugs, duels, doomed, dirty dancing  …. Is it any coincidence, then, that a girl’s best friend begins with D? Come on over to the dark side. How about a dalliance with Dracula? (the latter being adapted from Romanian). You get the drift.

So, do the D words have the same flavour in the five Romance languages? Let’s take a quick look, flicking through the dictionaries at random to find something appealing….

ROMANIAN: dragoste. Well, you can’t deny you learn all the crucial words here at My Five Romances. It means love, and thus a face dragoste means to make love. The related adjective is drăgăstos/drăgăstoasă, meaning loving, affectionate, amorous.

English: Candle Night Polski: Znicz nocą.

The night candles may not be as glowing as you think. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PORTUGUESE: uma donzela-de-candeiro. The old-fashioned meaning of this is a table or bench on which a night light is placed. This is not why it tickled my fancy, though. What I really like about this is that in Brazilian usage it has come to mean a woman who pretends to be a virgin. I wonder how many donzelas there are in Brazil nowadays. And whom do they think they are fooling? Clearly they are not pretending very well. Is there a male equivalent? Brazilians should at least come up with a word or expression to describe young men who pretend they are experienced lovers but in fact are still virgins. How about something like “a matchstick still in the box”?

SPANISH: despreocuparse This means to stop worrying, which is something people should do more of. I like how Spanish has one word for this, whereas English has to use three. (Maybe the modern English equivalent would be chill as a verb). Another interesting thing about this word, by the way, is that it ends in “arse”. Just pointing it out, that’s all.

Picture of an electrical circuit diagram

This is an illustration of how Bernardo’s brain (enlarged, so you can see it) gets easily sidetracked. It’s also an electrical circuit diagram.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

FRENCH:  disjoncter. This means to trip, fuse, short-circuit, as in the electrical sense, but it has been adapted to great effect into modern argot to mean to trip out, to go off one’s head, lose one’s head, to crack up, to go off at a tangent. We have all disjoncted at some stages in our lives, methinks, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights in our youth.

ITALIAN: dopotutto. This is a great-sounding word meaning after all. You should use it liberally when speaking Italian. Just say “Dopotutto, ….” followed by some really thoughtful or philosophical observation, or even a platitude, and people will wonder at your great intelligence and power of conversation. Words like these are useful, too, as they signal that you are going to keep talking and everyone else has to listen, which is the whole point of having a conversation really.

You can find my listings for A-C words under the Quirky vocabulary tab near the top of the page, and other quirky stuff all over the place so just roam freely.

A year of slogging. Oops, I mean blogging

first candle

First birthday cake (Photo credit: egg on stilts)

It was a year ago that I began this blog, which was set up merely as a dummy for a one-day blogging course that I did. I had no idea where it was going to go or what I would do with it. Still, it has been fun, in a way, although I know now that trying to cover five languages in one go was way too ambitious. Still, My One Romance, or My Two Romances, or even three or four, doesn’t quite sound as impressive as My Five Romances, does it? So five it is.

Looking back, I would have to say that the best thing about the blogging experience was not anything to do with writing anything here, it was discovering like-minded people and their blogs. My WordPress “Reader”, made up of the posts of all the blogs that I follow, has been a great source of entertainment, knowledge and amusement.

My top 20 romances. (Number of views per country. top 20 only.) Source: WordPress

My top 20 romances. (Number of views per country, top 20 only.) Source: WordPress

I owe a great deal of thanks to all those who have visited this blog, particularly those who have offered feedback and encouragement. I realise it is pretty small in the scheme of things – some bloggers get 100+ “likes” per post; I am lucky if I get more than 10 – but really I would never have imagined that I would have got 8800-plus views in my first year. I don’t think there are that many people in the world who particularly want information on five specific languages. It’s a very limited niche. For the record, the top 20 countries as far as my audience is concerned are those pictured right.

As is the case for most bloggers, I should imagine, the first couple of months of writing this blog were pretty lonely: there were just 24 views in November 2012. But the secret is not to expect too much too soon, and to keep plugging away. By January the number of views had risen tenfold, in February it doubled and March it doubled again, and it has been pretty steady since. To get a consistently good readership you need to post at least three times a week. It can be very time-consuming, and I have found my other writing projects have suffered as a result of having a blog. But it can also be very rewarding.

Just out of curiosity, I will jot down here a couple of the more interesting statistics that WordPress automatically provides, so that I have something to compare my progress with come November 2014. Overall, the 8,800-plus views have been logged from 128 countries. But the sobering statistic is that, in 23 of those countries, only one person called up my blog, obviously didn’t like what they saw, fled and never returned again! I call those my one-night stands.

My world coverage map is pasted below. The white bits are the countries that have totally ignored me. (Do you detect a sulking tone creeping in?) Pull up your socks, Central Africa! And not even one bloody cyber spy from China has peeped into my activities! That’s pathetic. The head of the Chinese intelligence agencies should be sacked. One thing is for sure, by this time next year that one annoying white blob in South America, (yes, Paraguay, I am talking about you!) is going to be filled, even if I have to go there and call up my blog myself.

Thanks everyone 🙂

The colonisation of the world by the great intrepid linguistic explorer Bernardo.

The colonisation of the world by the great intrepid linguistic explorer Bernardo.

Do your head in with the rudiments of Romanian

Headache

(Photo credit: Lel4nd)

Some time ago, on August 18th to be precise, I attempted to explain some of the, ahem, logic behind basic Romanian grammar in a post entitled “The quirks of Romania (and Romanian)”. Since then, I have been avoiding the topic. Understandably so. I mean, if I am lucky, I will have 40 more years left to live, and to explain Romanian grammar properly you need at least 400 years, I think. But, you know, there comes a time when a man has gotta do what a man has gotta do, so here goes. Let’s grapple with this great grammatical beast and tame it. Let’s show it who’s the boss. We are! Heads down now, concentrate now, OK?

First I recommend that you read the aforementioned “quirks” on this link here to get some idea of what you are letting yourself in for.

(I am giving you some time and space to do that.)

Now let’s go into specifics. Romanian has three genders: masculine, feminine and neuter.

Masculine nouns: These can be natural masculines (words donating male beings or professions, etc) or simply grammatical ones. Masculine nouns can end in: a variety of consonants (e.g. bărbat – man, portocal – orange tree); in a –u preceded by a either  consonant or vowel (codru – forest, fiu – son, erou – hero, etc), in an –e (rege – king); or an -i (pui – chicken). Very rarely will a masculine noun end in –ă but notable exceptions are tată, popă and papă – father, priest and pope, respectively.

Neuter nouns: these behave like masculine nouns in the singular but feminine in the plural. Thus in the singular they have the same endings as the masculines above – consonant, -u, – ău, -eu, -iu, -ou, -e and -i, but also so words ending in -o as in radio. Neuter nouns are usually inanimate (but inanimate things are not necessarily neuter!). Some examples of neuter words are: timbru – stamp, muzeu – museum, tricou – T-shirt, nume – name, ceai – tea, scaun – chair, and caiet – notebook.

Feminine nouns: These, of course, denote female beings and professions as well as a variety of others. Feminine nouns often end in –ă (fată – girl, casă – house), or in –a without the accent (sarma – stuffed cabbage leaf), in -e (scrisoare – letter), –ie (femeie – woman, familie – family), in –ea or –ia (cafea– coffee, nuia – stick) or in –i (zi = day).

Tetrapanax papyrifer 101010-0604

Some plants can be masculine in Romanian, some feminine. So now you know! (Photo credit: Tony Rodd)

Generally speaking, the months of the year, numbers, letters of the alphabet, many trees, some plants and flowers, the names of most mountains and of some cities (including Bucureşti) are masculine. Most sports, some abstract nouns, materials and matters and general objects are neuter. The names of days, times of the day and seasons are feminine, as are most countries and continents, most fruits, and most names of the arts and sciences. But some flowers, plants, general objects and cities and regions can be feminine.

The indefinite articles in Romanian are un for masculine and neuter words and o for feminine ones (un prieten – a male friend, o prietenă – female friend). As you can see from this, turning a masculine being or profession into the feminine form usually involves adding an ă or replacing a masculine ending such as u with an ă (un membru, o membră – a male and female member, respectively). But sometimes there are other, more complicated female endings, usually including an in them. For example, regionalities and nationalities and suchlike ending in –ian or –ean  will add -că (un belgian, o belgiancă, un ardelean, o ardeleancă – someone from Belgium and from Transylvania, respectively, and note Romanian does not use capital letters here). For other nationalities, often the female addition will be –oaică – hence un englez, an Englisman, becomes o englezoiacă. Romanian will sometimes throw in some sly changes in the middle of the word too, hence un francez, a  Frenchman, becomes the wonderful-sounding o franţuzoaică. You try saying that when you are drunk 🙂 Another common female ending is –iţă after male professions ending in -or/-ar/-er/-ăr (un doctor, o doctoriţă) but –tor male endings change to –toare (un muncitor – male worker, o muncitoare – female worker). Finally, you will also come across the –easă ending (un bucătar – a male cook, o bucătăreasă – a female cook).

All clear? Good!

OK, now let’s go on to the plural forms, still sticking with indefinites (e.g. boys, some boys) rather than the definite (the boys) because in Romanian the definite article is a suffix, at the word ending, and not a prefix in front, so it will have to be dealt with separately.

The masculine plural form is the easiest because it usually ends in –i. That is, consonants add an i (vecin – neighbour, vecini – neighbours), while masculine words ending in -e, -u, -l or replace those endings with an i (leu – lion, lei – lions, and these are also the singular and plural for the Romanian currency; copil – child, copii – children, etc). But masculine singular words that end in –i are usually unchanged in the plural, hence pui -chicken, pui – chickens.

The feminine plural form is more complicated and unfortunately there are no precise rules governing the changes, so they have to be learned by heart. Feminine words ending in –ă can change that ending to –e (casă, case – house, houses), or to -i, often with vowel or consonant changes in the preceding bits (sală, săli – room, rooms; stradă, străzi – street, streets), or to –uri (marfă, mărfuri – product, goods). Some feminine words ending in -e, though, change it to an i in the plural (păine, păini – bread, loaves of bread). When a feminine word ends in –ie, the change depends on whether it is immediately preceded by a vowel or consonant. If it’s a vowel, the –ie is reduced to -i (femeie, femei – woman, women), but if it’s preceded by a consonant than the –ie becomes –ii (familie, familii -family, families). Nouns ending in –a or –ea usually change these to –ale or –ele in the plural (sarma, sarmale – stuffed cabbage roll/rolls; cafea, cafele – coffee, coffees).

The neuter plural, alas, as with the feminine plural, can have different endings and there are no precise rules as to why they do so. But basically it will usually be an –e or –uri ending on one form or another, either an addition or a replacement. When a neuter singular ends in a consonant or an -i, usually one of the two above-mentioned forms will be added (oraş, oraşe – town, towns; joc, jocuri – game, games; tramvai, tramvaie – tram, trams; taxi, taxiuri – taxi, taxis). Singular neuters ending in –u change the ending to either –or –uri (teatru, teatre – theatre, theatres; râurâuri – river, rivers). But some nouns ending in –iu change this to –ii (studiu, studii – study, studies) and some –e words don’t change (nume, nume – name, names).

It all sounds very complicated and I guess in this form it is. But I did find, though, in my three weeks in the country earlier this year, and through listening to Romanian media music before and since, that you soon somehow develop an instinct for what sound or word ending is suitable. So persevere. And if you are not sure of a word, but are familiar with another Romance language, then just say the equivalent word in that Romance language. I found that often my Portuguese disguised as Romanian made me sound quite knowledgeable. You can fool some of the people some of the time. 

I’ll give you a break now and will continue with the topic some time in the next 40 or 400 years, OK?

Ronaldo sinks Swedes in World Cup’s final countdown

Cristiano Ronaldo during the friendly match Po...

Cristiano Ronaldo  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Travel agents and football fans in Greece, Croatia, Portugal, France, Algeria and Ghana are celebrating today as their national teams won their World Cup play-offs to secure their place in the tournament in Brazil next year. Meanwhile, a Brazilian friend of mine here in Sydney says there should be plenty of work available in Brazil for translators with knowledge of Portuguese (and English in particular but in other languages too). You’ve just got to go and find it, I suppose. If I find out any more information about such opportunities I will post it here.

The teams that lost out in the play-offs are Romania, Iceland, Sweden, Ukraine, Burkina Faso, and Egypt. Earlier in the week in Africa, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Cameroon also qualified at the expense of Senegal, Ethiopia and Egypt, respectively.

The official qualification program is not quite complete: there are the second legs to come of the two intercontinental play-offs to decide the last two of the 32 places available. But since Mexico thrashed New Zealand 5-1 in the first leg and Uruguay won 5-0 in Jordan, the outcome is hardly in doubt.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of the qualifiers played today, the Sweden v Portugal match was the most intriguing. It had been billed as a showdown of the superstars, Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic against Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal, and they certainly lived up to expectations. It was Ronaldo who had scored in the first leg in Lisbon to give Portugal a 1-0 advantage. And today in Solna, Sweden, it was Ronaldo once again who opened the scoring five minutes into the second half to make things really difficult for the home team. But then Ibrahimovic scored twice in the space of four minutes to make it 2-1 to Sweden on the night and 2-2 on aggregate, but Portugal still had the advantage of having scored away goals. Sweden needed two more goals and had 18 minutes left to get them. Well, two goals did come, but they were scored in two devastating minutes (the 77th and 79th) by Ronaldo, who thus completed his hat-trick. Final score: Sweden 2, Portugal 3 (2-4 on aggregate). What a ding-dong battle of a game!

France also did remarkably well, considering they lost the first leg 0-2 in Kiev, to triumph 3-0 in Paris.

Personally, with all respects to Sweden, who have a great and entertaining team, I am delighted that Portugal, Brazil’s mother country, so to speak, will be there to take part in the competition in its biggest former colony. Parabens! But it must be dreadful for the fans of the teams that lost, to have got so near and yet so far. My commiserations to them.

English: Genipabu beach in Natal, Brazil Portu...

English: Genipabu beach in Natal, Brazil. Português: Praia de Genipabu em Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Brasil. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The tournament runs from June 12 to July 13 and takes place in 12 cities in Brazil. They are São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Manaus, Natal, Recife, Fortaleza, Cuiaba, Curitiba and Porto Alegre. I have been to eight of the 12 and they are great holiday destinations. Natal (pictured above) is possibly my favourite.

The C words can be cute

English: Cute coffee.

Cute coffee. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In English, many of the words beginning with C are functional: computer, cache, company, clergy, clerk, calculate, commission, court, capitalism, communism, cashier, capacity, cardigan, consecration and catalogue. On the down side, people can be callous, cunning, cruel and cantankerous. But on a brighter note, they can also be charming, cheerful, cute and carefree. And we love comedians and chefs. There is a great collection of C words among Bernardo’s culinary faves: chocolate, caramel, cream, creme brulées, coconut, cashew nuts, chutney, casseroles, chicken, calamari, croissants, (Portuguese) custard tarts, and coffee. Yes, bring me the coffee! So, what interesting C words have we found in the five Romance languages?

Laughing Kookaburra

Laughing Kookaburra (Photo: Wikipedia)

PORTUGUESE: uma cacaborrada. I like this word because it sounds like the cry of a kookaburra (kookaburra being an Australian bird with a very distinct cak-cak-cak-cak-cak cackle). It could almost be the Portuguese word for kookaburra but it’s not; it’s a vulgarism meaning a piece of stupidity, a blunder, foolishness, bungling or nonsense. I think it sounds better, too, if you use the Brazilian Portuguese accent. The Brazilians would spit out the word, saying it more emphatically. 🙂 It might be related to the word caca, which means excrement.

ROMANIAN: o clipă. This is a useful word to have in your vocab: it means, a moment, an instant, a while. For example, mă intorc într-o clipă means I’ll be back in a moment. If someone says that, particularly someone in the service industry, of course you will know that they are going to be away for a long time.

ITALIAN: circondare. This ordinarily means to surround or encircle, but there are some nice expressions using this verb, such as circondare qualcuno di attenzione or di cure, which mean to be very attentive towards, or to give someone the best attention. What blogger doesn’t fancy the idea of being surrounded or encircled by people’s attention?

SPANISH: una cubretetera (tea cosy) has a quaint, old-fashioned ring to it, don’t you think? While we are at it, un cubrehuevos is an egg cosy, and un cubrecama is a bed cover. Derived from the verb cubrir, to cover.

young Long-eared owl (Asio otus), surroundings...

A couche-tard (night owl)

FRENCH: un or une couche-tard is a night owl (masculine or feminine depending on the type of owl), while un/une couche-tôt is a person who goes to bed early. I am definitely a tard, not a tôt. These are related to the verb coucher, to sleep, and probably the best known French expression among people who speak no French is Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir? (Do you want to sleep with me tonight?) Une coucherie is a casual sexual encounter. So, here is a philosophical question: if you were going to have une coucherie, would you rather have it with a couche-tard or a couche-tôt?

You can find my listings for A and B words under the newly created Quirky vocabulary tab. This post will eventually join them there. Well, it’s late, even for a couche-tard like me. It’s time to curl up under the cubrecama, perhaps with cartons of chips or crisps and a carafe of cider or caipirinha or cosmopolitan to get my creative juices flowing while I contemplate potential D and E words with double entendres for the next parts in this series. Cheers, comrades.

Tracks from the travelling Eros Ramazzotti

Cover of "Calma Apparente"

Cover of Calma Apparente

Top Italian singer Eros Ramazzotti arrives in Australia this week on his world tour to promote the CD Noi, released late last year. He will be appearing in Melbourne on November 15, Sydney (November 20) and Perth (November 23). His Brisbane show scheduled for November 17 was cancelled “for technical reasons”.

Eros is a big name on the European continent. In Italy, of course, he is a national hero: of the 10 albums (excluding compilations) he has released since 1986, nine went to No. 1 on the charts in his native land, and the other only managed to get to No. 2. But his albums also chart consistently in the likes of Switzerland, Croatia, Belgium, Austria, Spain (he does Spanish versions), Germany, the Netherlands, Greece, Sweden and also in France and sometimes Portugal, Brazil and Argentina. One of his compilations, e2, even managed to make No. 38 on the Australian albums charts.

To be honest, I am not a great fan; his music is often good and tuneful, and very well produced, but I find his whinny, nasal twang of a voice a bit offputing at times. Not that he needs the approval of a nobody like me, he has won more international acclaim than I could ever dream of.

Here, though, is one song of his that I really do like: it’s a lovely ballad from the album Stilelibero (Freestyle), released in late 2000 (this was the album which, according to Wikipedia, only got to No. 2 in Italy – I wonder which album stopped it getting to number one). This is Per Me Per Sempre (For Me, Forever).

Another one I like – it’s more upbeat, got lots of guitars – is La Nostra Vita, (Our Lives), the single from the album Calma Apparente, released in 2005.

So, how does Noi rate? It’s not bad. You can listen to the whole thing here, (all the tracks are listed, and you can jump ahead to them by clicking on the starting time for each track). I like number four best, Io Sono Te (even though there is an annoying spoken part in it). I have also embedded the album below, but you can’t jump from one song to the start of the next on it.

LS Jack and the dangers of liposuction

LS Jack are a Brazilian pop/rock band who rose to prominence in 2001, when Carla, the first single from their third album V.I.B.E, went to number one on the Brazilian charts. It still sounds good today, check it out.

The follow-up single, Uma Carta, also went to number one, and two years later they were back on top again with the singles Sem Radar and Amanhã Não Se Sabe from their fourth album, Tudo Outra Vez. On the strength of all this, and without thinking about it too much, when I was in Brazil in 2005 I bought their fifth album, Jardim de Cores, primarily, I  suppose, because I liked the title (Garden of Colours). I figured the music would be okay. They had another top 10 hit with this track, Meu Sossego (My Calm) from that album.

However, my favourite LS Jack song, the one that made me so glad I bought that album, is not one of their singles; it is this one, Phoenix.

However, after this LS Jack ran into problems. The lead singer, Marcus Menna, apparently, suffered a bad allergic reaction to a drug while recuperating from liposuction, and was in a coma for a while, and since then he has suffered from poor health. LS Jack never released another album after Jardim de Cores, apart from a greatest hits compilation. However, apparently the band members did get together again recently and so we may not have heard the last of them yet.

Here are the lyrics to Phoenix. If you paste them in a translator, you will get the gist.

Quanto mais eu briguei
Mais enganos no caminho eu deixei
Tão cego na minha ambição
O que eu tinha de melhor escapou das minhas mãos
Me deixou, me faltou, me escapou, escapou

Tanto faz
se eu ganhei
Na batalha a minha paz se desfez

A dor só me faz enxergar
Nada pode ser maior
Doque eu tenho pra te dar
Meu amor, seu amor, nosso amor, o amor
Me deixou, me faltou, me escapou

Por mil anos esperando
A minha alma te encontrar
Na certeza que um dia
Tudo volta pro lugar
Cada estória uma sentença
E eu que faço a minha lei
Quero toda a sua essência
E isso é tudo que eu sei

1 or 2 or 3 of the best from ABCD

Bernardo doesn’t just hark back to he 1980s, you know. He’s very up to date with the modern stuff too. He knows that hip-hop is a shoe made in Brazil, that the dubstep is the funny walk that old people tend to do when their knees get arthritic and dodgy, and that rap is something you put around gifts at Christmas to make them look more exotic than they really are. Bernardo can do the dubstep but he is not so good at rapping. Just to prove how cool Bernardo is, here is his favourite track from 2013, his hit of the year, the song he has played the most on his gadget thingy (the iSanitaryPad, he thinks it’s called).

?????????????????????????????The song is Final de Razboi, by a new Romanian group called ABCD. Razboi is a funny word, it doesn’t seem to have any similar sounding equivalents in the other Romance languages featured on this blog. It means “war” or “battle,” so this song is about people ending their fighting and squabbling. Kissing and making up, I guess. ABCD’s name is derived from the first letter of the names of the four band members, and this song was in the running to be Romania’s entry at the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest but lost out to that silly entry by the high-pitched Dracula looking fella. Still, it has been on the Romanian airplay charts for much of the year.

?????????????????????????????Not only does Bernardo think Final de Razboi is great, he loves the video too. It’s a homage to ink and paper, and at heart Bernardo is a pen and paper kind of guy. According to an article on the MoozTV website, 3000 letters and 60 litres of ink were used in the video, which took two days to shoot. It looks like the members of ABCD had a lot of fun getting smudged and stained in rivers of ink, turning their clothes from white to blue (Bernardo’s favourite colour). Although the band members were, as far as he knows, reasonably well known musicians, this was the first time they had got together as an ensemble and this was their debut single. The lead singer, the C (for Cristina) was pregnant at the time of recording, so hopefully by now she is a happy and healthy mother with a happy and healthy child.

parcul_herastrauBy the way, the big, attractive park you will see at the end of the clip, when all the balloons go up in the air, looks like Parcul Herastrau in Bucharest (right). It includes a big lake where you can take ferry rides, and there are pleasant restaurants and cafes along the shore, plus shady, tree-lined walkways and colourful gardens. Bernardo really recommends you go to Parcul Herastrau if you are in Buc, which can be a bit of a concrete jungle. At Herastrau you will feel like you are in another world, and Bucharest’s Arc de Triomphe is nearby too. Anyway, Bernardo hopes you’ll enjoy the song and he will be looking at the lyrics in some depth in a later post. The only thing that annoys him about this clip is that someone is obviously playing keyboards (the keyboard melodies are great, especially near the end) but you never see who it is. Who is the mystery fifth member of ABCD? Here is the video.

So, what about two of the best from ABCD? Or three? Well, if truth be told, Bernardo hasn’t been able to find another song by the band anywhere, not even on that popular music posting site, what’s it called, is it YouLube? Maybe this is because this was their debut single and ABCD’s first album hasn’t come out yet. Or has it? If anyone knows of any other material by ABCD, please send Bernardo the link. In the meantime he will just play Final de Razboi over and over again. The neighbours love it!

Four of the best from France and Belgium

Plastic Bertrand

Plastic Bertrand (Photo credit: Magalie L’Abbé)

On my first trip to France as an adult I went into a record store (this was in early 1980s when music was only available on vinyl or cassettes, before CDs and MP3s were even invented) because I wanted to buy some French rock that I could take home to Zimbabwe, where I was studying French at university but had little exposure to the language. So I went into what I must have thought was a cool store where the guy behind the counter was playing some rock himself – I didn’t want any disco crap! I explained that I was new to French music but liked rock, and suggested that an album by Plastic Bertrand might be the answer. Plastic had had a huge hit in 1978 called Ça Plane Pour Moi“, it was kind of punky and it had even made the top 10 in conservative, English-speaking Zimbabwe.

Cover of "Au Coeur De Nuit"

Cover of Au Coeur De Nuit

The salesman was horrified. “Non, non! You can’t buy Plastique Bertrand, that eez not rock musique, vraiment, I wheel not allow it. You haff to buy theese….” He went over to the racks and pulled out the album Au Cœur De La Nuit by a band called TéléphoneI rather reluctantly allowed myself to be persuaded and bought it, but he still would not let me by the Plastic Bertrand album. Still, I have a lot to thank that salesman for. Téléphone were a great band, I really enjoyed that album and I have bought most of their material ever since. Even my mates at university who were not studying French enjoyed listening to them. Here are two songs from that 1980 album, the title track (which translates as In the Heart of the Night) and a live TV performance of 2000 Nuits (2000 Nights)

Great punky stuff! I would have to say, though, that my favourite track from Téléphone, is the slightly more mellow and refined title track to their 1984 album Un Autre Monde (Another World), which unfortunately was their last studio release. The words are on the clip below, so this can be your language lesson. Sing along in French, please.

So, what about Plastic Bertrand? If you read the Wikipedia entry here you will see that in fact it wasn’t him singing on that famous hit after all. Nevertheless, regardless of what that salesman in the record shop I visited in Paris thought of that song, he would have to admit that probably no other chanson in French (or mostly French) since has managed to penetrate the music charts in as many English-speaking countries as Ça plane pour moi did. So it really was quite an achievement. Here it is again. Check out those dance moves from the king of the divan!