Thrills and spills: are you ‘torpe’?

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I have a friend who is clumsy in an endearing way. He’s Colombian and talks a lot with his hands, so anything that is in gesticulating range – the salt cellar or wine glasses at the dinner table, for example – is in immediate danger of being karate-chopped and sent flying. When accidents happened I’d good-naturedly exclaim “clumsy!” and then, one day, realising that I didn’t know the Spanish word for it, asked him what it was. The answer: torpe.

Exclaiming “torpe!” has become a running joke between us – after all, his clumsiness or torpeza is ongoing – and I have Christened him Mr Torpe, Señor Torpe.

It is a word I will never forget, and quite pleasant-sounding too – two syllables, rather like the English words “tore’ and “pay’ joined together.

HOW TO MAKE NEW WORDS STICK IN YOUR MEMORY

A good way of learning and remembering new adjectives, then, is to give your friends appropriate nicknames in your target language, and then tease them mercilessly until the word sticks. Some other examples in Spanish.

  • Mr Grumpy – Señor Gruñón
  • Mr Fastidious – Señor Fastidioso
  • Mrs Cheerful – Señora Alegre
  • Mrs Forgetful – Señora Olvidadiza

And the one that’s most applicable to me? Príncipe Encantador (Prince Charming) haha.

MEET THE FIVE ROMANTIC MR TORPES

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So, I know Colombia’s clumsy Señor Torpe (centre) but I have only just come across his  other Romance language equivalents. Allow me to present the following, from left:

  • Senhor Desajeitado of Portugal/Brazil
  • Domnule Neîndemânatic of Romania/Moldova
  • Signor Maldestro of Italy
  • Monsieur Maladroit of France

That’s all for now.

Yours,
Príncipe Encantador

Images taken from Pixabay.

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French film festival sets new record

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The attendance figures from the Alliance Française French Film Festival in Australia have just been released, and once again a new record has been set. All up there were 184,713 attendances – a 5.8 per cent increase on the previous year – at the 50 films screened across 23 cinemas.

FrenchfingerThe festival was especially popular in Sydney, where attendances rose by 9 per cent to 57,427, helped in part by the opening of the Palace Central Park cinema complex near Central station. The figures for the other cities are not yet available.

The most popular film was the one that got the festival off to a rollicking start,  C’est La Vie.

It will be interesting to see if the Spanish Film Festival, which has only just ended, achieved similar growth. I suspect it will.

MORE REEL DEALS

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As one festival ends, so another begins: the German Film Festival is on from May 22 to June 10 in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide, to be followed shortly afterwards by the Scandinavian Film Festival (July).

Romances languages will be back in focus with the Italian Film Festival (September) and Cine Latino Film Festival (November).

Images from Pixabay.

What went wrong for Portugal at Eurovision?

Well, well, well. Eurovision can be cruel. One year you win it, the next you come last in the final. On your home territory! This was Portugal’s experience at the Eurovision 2018 final in Lisbon on the weekend.

So, unlike Salvador Sobral‘s Amar Pelas Dois (Love For Two) which won in Kiev in 2017 despite being so old-fashioned and so untypical of Eurovision, the equally untypical  O Jardim (The Garden), sung by Cláudia Pascoal, turned out to be the wrong song in the wrong time. It got just 39 points. That said, I much prefer it to Israel’s winning entry, Netta’s Toy, a song that I never, ever want to hear again!

Here is Cláudia in action.

The backing singer in the video is the woman who wrote the song, Isaura Santos, and I would have liked her to have played a more prominent part in it. She’s an interesting performer. Check this out:

Was there better options for Portugal?

Did the Portuguese “music authorities” err in their selection process for Eurovision 2018? The Eurovision entry is chosen at the annual Festival da Canção (Festival of Song). Here O Jardim scored 22 points, but so did another song, Para Sorrir Eu Não Precisco De Nada (I don’t need anything to make me smile) by Catarina Miranda. The latter was the jury’s top pick, but O Jardim won the televoting, and that clinched it for Cláudia.

Would Catarina have done any better? One thing’s for sure, the Portuguese don’t seem to go in for lively dance tunes! This is the song that came third at the Festival da Canção.

Despite the result, I am sure the Portuguese enjoyed the attention and the honour of hosting the event. Have you been to Lisbon? It’s a great city, as I explain on my travel website in a piece to coincide with Eurovision – Lisbon’s in the limelight.

Throw a canary on the barbecue? Surely not!

After my close encounters with Uma Thurman, I have had another awkward moment with my phone’s predictive text. I was using Portuguese to describe a typical Australian Christmas meal …

Nós comemos muitos camarões (“we eat lots of prawns“) was what I wanted to say.

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Exotic prawns spotted by Bernardo at the fishmarket. Photo: Bernard O’Shea

What my phone came up with: Nós comemos muitos canaries

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How would you like to munch on these? Image: Pixabay

Now that I have whetted your appetite, why don’t you join me for a seafood extravaganza?

RELATED VOCABULARY

  • French: manger (to eat), un canari (a canary), une crevette (a prawn)
  • Italian: mangiare (to eat), un canarino (a canary), un gambero, un gamberetto (a prawn)
  • Portuguese: comer (to eat),  um canário (a canary), um camarão, (a prawn)
  • Romanian: a mânca (to eat), un canar (a canary), un crevete (a prawn)
  • Spanish: comer(to eat), un canario (a canary), un camarónuna gamba (a prawn)

Note: For simplicity’s sake, I’m treating shrimps and prawns as the same. Portuguese also has the word gamba, but it may be more used in Portugal than Brazil.

All ye Romancers, shake your bon bons

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Feliz Natal, Feliz Navidad, Buon Natale, Joyeux Noel, Crăciun Fericit.

In other words, happy Christmas in (from left) Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, French and Romanian.

To wish you all the joys of the festive season, I thought I would share some of the Christmas imagery that caught my eye in my home city, Sydney. All that is lacking is some snow and sleighs.

The picture at top was taken in a shopping centre (’tis the season to be shopping, after all). The big red dangling thing is what I as an Anglo-Irish child growing up in Africa would call a Christmas cracker, but here in Australia they seem to call them bon bons. Then I always think of Ricky Martin wanting people to shake their bon bons.

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The tree at Circular Quay.

Above is a decoration in front of the beautiful old Customs House, behind Circular Quay, the main terminal for the Sydney Harbour ferries. The restaurant at the top of the building has great views. (Just saying, should any of you want to treat me to lunch.)

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Wrapped so you’ll be enrapt in George Street.

A nice touch in George Street is these gift-wrapped concrete cubes. George Street has been undergoing renovations as a new tram line is put in. I guess the concrete cubes are to prevent vehicular traffic. People could sit on them, I suppose, but a tree for shade would be nice.

Talking of trees, you have to admire this enormous one in the dome of the Queen Victoria Building, one of the most beautiful buildings in Sydney.

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Hitting the heights in the QVB.

That shot was taken on the top level of the building, and there are two levels below. Alas, it’s plastic.

Best wishes to you, 

Bernardo

 

My close encounters with Uma Thurman

cinema-1293881_640Bernardo (c’est moi) is a socialite. He struts the red carpets. He mingles with the stars. Or at least his smartphone seems to think he does.

When you dabble with a number of languages on your phone – I frequently use English, Portuguese, Spanish, Romanian and sometimes French on WhatsApp –  it can play havoc with your auto-fill predictive text. My phone often hasn’t a clue what I am talking about. If I am not careful it will spew out nonsense.

For example, when I was on holiday in England a couple of months ago, I would try to tell my Brazilian friends….

Estou ficando na casa de uma tia  (I am staying at the house of an aunt)

…. which the phone embellished as ….

Estou ficando na casa de Uma Thurman

They were most impressed.

Sorry, I’ve got to rush – Uma’s calling me to breakfast. Chat later!

It’s Mine Awareness Day; and 10 poor victims will be caught unawares

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In Land of Mine, the second world war has just ended but young German prisoners are kept on to clear Denmark’s beaches of 1.4 million landmines. The fatalities were horrendous.

Today, April 4, is International Mine Awareness Day, as designated by the United Nations. I mention this for two reasons. First, there is a fantastic new film on the topic, Land of Mine (a finalist in the Oscars this year), and I was telling my friends in Romance-language speaking countries about it – the related vocabulary is further down this post. Second, the film brought back memories of my own experience in this regard – in my youth in Africa I was once on the back of a truck that detonated a landmine. Fortunately it was a reinforced vehicle and the injuries were minimal. It’s far worse if you tread on one.

Landmines may seem like a thing of the past but here are some facts that will shock you.

  • In 64 countries around the world, there are an estimated 110 million undetonated
    landmines still lodged in the ground.
  • Since 1975, landmines have killed or maimed more than one million people.
  • On average, 10 people die every day due to landmine blasts.
  • Even with training, mine disposal experts expect that for every 5000 mines cleared,
    one worker will be killed and two workers will be injured by accidental explosions.

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These details came from the press kit for Land Of Mine, which has just opened in Australia. The Danish mine-clearing campaign was shocking for a number of reasons.

  • It was a violation of the 1929 Convention relating to the Treatment of Prisoners of War.
  • An estimated 2600 POWS were forced to do it. Some were as young as 13.
  • Half of them were killed or injured.

So much for the grim statistics. The film is marvellous and uplifting for the way it shows how, even in the tensest of times, it is possible to break down enmities, to see a friend instead of a a foe – something that I wish political fanatics and bigots all over the world could do today. Do see the movie if you can.

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VOCABULARY

How do you say “landmine” and “to explode” in my five Romance languages?

  • In French, mine terrestre; exploser
  • In Italian, mina terrestreesplodere
  • In Portuguese, mina terrestre; explodir
  • In Romanian, mină terestră or mină de uscat. (When I asked a Romanian friend he said “something like teren minat” but that’s his story.) a exploda, a detona
  • In Spanish, mina de tierra, hacer volar/estaliar/explotar

Photographs supplied courtesy of Palace Films.

Tic-tac, here comes the year of the Rooster

roosterJanuary 2017 has almost gone. The Chinese new year is about to dawn on us. How time flies! What do you plan to achieve in 2017 or in the Year of the Rooster? You’d better hurry, because the clocks are ticking. According to reputable dictionaries (that is, the ones I probably paid way too much money for), in French and Romanian they go tic-tac; in Italian it’s tic tac without a hyphen; in Portuguese tique-taque; in Spanish tictac.

What we need now is a tic-tac song to gee us up. Oh look, here’s one! Even better, the video features waves gently lapping the shore – a symbol of constant, regular motion – and there are nice melodies floating around in it. It’s by Vescan and Mahia Beldo (although only the former appears in the video) and the song has made the Romanian top 10.

What’s it all about? Basically, he is missing the passing of dulce copilărie, or sweet childhood. You can find a rather awkward translation of the lyrics into English here (plus translations into German, Russian and Spanish).

HOW TO SAY ‘TIME FLIES’ IN THE FIVE ROMANCE LANGUAGES

  • French: le temps passe vite
  • Italian: il tempo vola
  • Portuguese: o tempo voa
  • Romanian: timpul zboara
  • Spanish: el tiempo vuela or el tiempo corre (runs)

Although I am not fond of rapping, I do like a lot of the music that Vescan has been involved in – he usually teams up with good singers (an example is Poza de album with Mellina, featured on this post here). In Tic-tac I am impressed with Mahia’s vocals. Here the two perform together live on radio.

How would you like to have Vescan as your language teacher? I think he would be entertaining. No chance of falling asleep in one of his classes!

roosterA happy Year of the Rooster to you

For some amusement, if these things appeals to you, you can find your Chinese new year horoscopes here, but you have to know what animal you are. Find out here.

I’m a rat!

 

 

The foreigners at the BAFTAs

After the recent excitement of the Golden Globes, attention turned today to the BAFTA nominations. The British Academy of Film And Television Arts released its list of 2017 award nominees and, as expected the Hollywood musical La La Land dominated, scoring 11 nominations.

The foreign language film contenders did not include the Golden Globe-winning French film Elle, because it has not yet opened in England, so it will probably be a contender in the 2018 BAFTAs.

But there were French connections. One of the nominees was Dheepan, which looks at the lives of Tamils fleeing Sri Lanka to settle in France. Cheerful stuff!

Spanish is another Romance language that gets a role at the BAFTAs, in the form of Pedro Almodóvar’s Julieta.

I am a great fan of Pedro Almodóvar and will always go to see his films at the cinema, but I must confess  Julieta left me a little cold. That said, I have friends who have raved about it.

Turkish-born French director  Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s Mustang (in Turkish), which was an Oscar contender last year and also won four César awards in 2016, is also a BAFTA contender, as is the 2016 best foreign film Oscar winner Son of Saul (in Hungarian). Completing the list is the German comedy Toni Erdmann, which I will talk about in a later post.

The BAFTA awards will take place in London on February 12.

The Andes, Iguazu and La Ley: what more could you want?

Recently I had the chance to travel to South America – mostly to Brazil, so that was great for my Portuguese, and to a lesser extent in the Spanish-speaking part: Chile and Argentina, to take in the Argentinian side of the Iguazu Falls (Iguaçu in Portuguese), which, let me tell you, are spectacular. Below are a couple of pics I took with my iPhone, which got a soaking during the day.

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Iguazu Falls … multi-layered and magnificent . Photo: Bernard O’Shea

I was also very lucky to have a window seat while flying over the Andes mountains at sunset (heading east from Santiago to Rio de Janeiro). At the top of this post, and below, are two of the photos I took on that memorable journey.

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While I was in Chile I was excited to find out that my favourite Chilean band – in fact, my favourite Spanish-singer artists in the whole wide mundo – La Ley, had re-formed and brought out a new album this year, called Adaptación, their first since 2003.

Here’s my favourite track from it.

There are 12 songs on the album, two of which are in English. The opening track is also appealing. Here’s a studio clip of it.

I hope you enjoyed this visual and aural foray into South America.