Beware false friends. These are words that look very similar in two different languages but have different meanings.
When a Portuguese friend of mine first arrived in Australia she had absolutely no knowledge of English (and even now she cannot distinguish between “shits“, “shirts” and “sheets“), she was feeling ill so she went to a doctor complaining of “constipacão“. She was very happy to be given medication for this, but could not understand why for the next few days she did not get better – and she kept having to run to the loo.
What went wrong? Well, while “constipacão” does indeed mean “constipated” in Portuguese as in English, it has another meaning in popular usage in Portuguese, hence the false friend:
- constipacão – a common cold
- pegar uma constipacão – to catch a cold
- constipado – 1. constipated; 2. suffering from a cold
- constipar – 1. to constipate, cause a constipation; 2. to catch a cold.
My friend had the flu, and she had been given laxatives.
If in doubt, a safer word to use in Portuguese for a cold is resfriado (related to frio, which means cold in temperature, and resfriar, to cool again)
- peguei um resfriado – I caught a cold
- ele está resfriado – he has a cold
Resfriado can also mean chilled, iced or frozen, while resfriamento is the act or process of cooling: hence coluna de resfriamento, a cooling tower.
I suppose in a future post I will have to study constipation in the other Romance languages.
CAT MUSIC Romania is on my Facebook feed (here’s the link if you want it on yours) and I like to keep an eye on the new releases for something interesting. This one by Liviu Teodorescu caught my attention. The title is In Braţele Tale. If you don’t know Romanian can you guess what it means? (Answer below).
Did you work out the song title? Some clues:
- In English we have the word embrace
- Portuguese has abraços (“hugs”, a common term of endearment)
- French has les bras (arms)
- Spanish likewise has los brazos
- And in Italian if you welcome someone with open arms you do it a braccia aperte.
So In Braţele Tale means In Your Arms. The singular noun is braţ.
Which reminded me of this great song from Bere Gratis
See also Cheers to Bere Gratis – music to slurp a free beer to.
I don’t know much about Liviu Teodorescu except that rose to fame playing a singer in a Romanian TV series, Pariu cu viața, so let’s see some more of him….
Here he is a recent release with Robert Toma and ADDA, Tot ce mi-a ramas (All I Have Left).
My pride and joy!
Earlier this year I edited an 180-page financial guide for (Australian) women, the second edition of How Busy Women Get Rich (it’s aimed at inspiring people who are generally too busy with their everyday lives to think about their finances). It felt a little odd being a man editing a financial guide for women, but our company had just started using a new computer system, none of the otherwise very capable freelance editors had been trained on it yet, so someone in-house had to do it, and the finger was pointed at me. I had been in the finance press for 14 years previously, and had been chief sub-editor of the inaugural edition of the magazine last year, so I guess it was a logical choice. Still, the last thing I wanted to be perceived as was a man telling women what to do; so I took on the role as the mere host of a party, and invited as many inspirational women as I could to be the party guests and made sure there were great female journalists on hand to take note of the conversations. It isn’t a dubious get-rich-quick magazine, but more about how to enrich your life on many levels – having the courage to follow your passions, doing what you love, and so on. It was the first time I had edited a magazine and I really enjoyed it. Thankfully it is selling well.
I have always been aware of issues of prejudice, equality/inequality and justice/injustice in the world, but I must say that the months I spent focusing on the major news issues that affect women today were an eye-opener and pretty galling too. Take, for example, the gender pay gap – the difference between what men and women get paid. In Australia, for example, official figures out earlier this year showed that a man’s average weekly wage is approximately $1587 and a woman’s is $1289. In Australia in 2014, government figures showed, a woman would have to work an extra 66 days a year to get what men get paid. Sixty-six days! That’s thirty-three weekends the woman has to work while the man lazes at home! Needless to say, if I were a woman I’d be pretty pissed off.
Throughout my career in journalism, I have had some great male mentors, but most of my role models have been women, and the vast majority of my current colleagues are women – writers, sub-editors, and magazine designers.They were a great source of advice and help to me during the editing process. After the magazine came out I had to thank them in the best way I could – a caramel mud cake decked out in the colours and imagery of the magazine cover. It looks pretty garish but it was yummy. Hail to all women out there! Cheers (normal Romance language service will be resumed shortly).
“How Busy Women Get Thanked” – written on white chocolate (the sign did not last very long).