Dreams and nightmares on and off the football field

This school of piranhas could well be a pesadelo. Picture:  Pixabay

This school of piranhas could well be “um pesadelo”.  Picture: Pixabay

One Portuguese word that visiting journalists learnt in Brazil was pesadelo, although Brazilians would much rather they hadn’t. When Germany thumped the World Cup hosts 7-1 in the semifinal, it was “um pesadelo“, and then when Brazil’s great footballing rivals Argentina had the cheek to qualify for the final on Brazil’s prized home turf, it was, as Brazilian newspapers claimed, a case of “o pesadelo continua” – the nightmare continues. But Germany won the final so the latter pesadelo was averted.

I must confess I wasn’t greatly familiar with this word, I guess because I rarely have bad dreams. Bernardo’s biggest nightmare is having to get out of bed in the morning. So, let’s have a look at the bedtime possibilities in my five Romance languages.

 Better dreams tabPoints of note

  1. Italian, Spanish and Portuguese are very closely related except for Italian’s “incubo
  2. The French and Romanian “nightmares” are very similar.
  3. The “mar” element, and “mare” in English, are derived from the Middle Dutch mare (“phantom, spirit, nightmare”), from Proto-Germanic marǭ (“nightmare, incubus”), from Proto-Indo-European mor– (“malicious female spirit”), according to Wiktionary.
  4. Romanian appears to be doing the “vision” thing when it comes to dreams.

justice-297629_640Going back to the Portuguese word pesadelo…

  • It’s related to the word pesar, which as a masculine noun means sorrow, regret or grief; and as a verb means to weigh, scrutinise, consider, grieve or cause sorrow.
  • The adjectives pesado/pesada (masc/fem) mean heavy, weighty, hard, onerous, laborious, difficult and so on. In Brazilian slang they can also mean unlucky. Pesado as a noun in Brazilian slang means hard work.
  • Pesadamente is the adverb heavily, and pesadume (masc) is heaviness, weight, bitterness, sorrow, ill will, grudge.

Other common expressions

  • chuva pesada = heavy rain
  • indústria pesada = heavy industry
  • uma multa pesada = a heavy fine

It’s Bernardo’s bedtime, time to say good night and sweet dreams…

bed-307817_640P: boa noite e bons sonhos
S: buenas noches y dulces sueños
F: bonne nuit et de beaux rêves
I: buona notte e sogni d’oro
R: noapte buna si vise plăcute





Brazil 2014: The festa’s almost finished. Que pena!

World cup ballsBrazil’s participation in the 2014 FIFA World Cup has reached its amazing anti-climax – one goal scored and 10 conceded in its last two games. But once Brazilians get over the humiliation their team ultimately suffered on the football field, they should take some pride in having hosted what is widely regarded as the most exciting and colourful World Cup yet. So in that sense you have to say to the host country, “Parabéns!” – congratulations.

One reason why Brazil hosted the tournament was so that people all over the world could get to know more about the country. In Australia the World Cup has been shown on television by broadcaster SBS, and I was in the studio audience last night for the final episode (number 26) of The Full Brazilian, a prime-time comedy show that has been running ever since the tournament started. The atmosphere in the studio was great, there were four sexy female samba dancers decked out in feathers, three sexy males in capoeira uniforms thumping out infectious percussion, and the studio itself had great replicas of Cristo Redentor (the statue of Christ the Redeemer) and Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf mountain), complete with cute little cable cars going up and down. The whole thing just made you want to go to carnival in Brazil immediately!

When you consider that his was just one of many offbeat shows that the event’s global broadcasters have been running over the past month, the tourism publicity for Brazil has been priceless, not just in the traditional media, but on social media too. The Guardian newspaper has given an excellent assessment of the event, from a socio-economic point of view in this editorial.

The event has also been a boost for the Portuguese language. Writers from English-language newspapers sprinkled their reports with catchphrases in Portuguese: for example, the jogo bonito, or beautiful game, for which Brazil was once renowned, which became the jogo colapso when Brazil was thumped 7-1 by Germany in the semifinals. By the end of that game every foreigner in Brazil could count to seven in Portuguese. And the non-Braziian fans who attended the tournament soon found out what a “festa” was. (On last night’s episode of The Full Brazilian, though, the host, comedian Jimeoin, took this to mean “fester“, which in English is not so pleasant. Still, by now you’d hope, journalists around the world won’t make embarrassing mistakes like this bunch of Australians did in saying that that language of Brazil was Spanish. No wait, Italian!

brazil-154542_640Many people are sad that the tournament is nearly over, but at least there is one more big festa to come – the celebrations of whichever nation that wins the final. And another consolation – we have the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 to look forward to as well. Maybe we will all still be doing the full Brazilian for years to come.

Portuguese language notes

  • parabéns = congratulations
  • dar os parabéns = to congratulate
  • festa = festival, carnival
  • festar = to celebrate, dance, party
  • que pena! = what a pity!
  • (não) vale a pena = it’s (not) worth it
  • ter pena de = to feel sorry for
  • um colapso = a collapse, breakdown, break-up; (medical) shock or fit
  • sofrer um colapso mental = to suffer a mental breakdown
  • acabar (bem/mal) = to finish (well/badly)
  • acabou-se = it’s all over
  • terminar = to finish, to conclude
  • não se lastima o que bem termina = all’s well that ends well


Who will talk the talk as World Cup enters knockout phase?


It’s mine, mine, mine!

Sixteen teams have departed from Brazil, and the World Cup knock-out phase is shortly to begin. Sixteen teams still dream of being the 2014 FIFA World Cup champion (and in a couple of hours they will be down to fourteen). There is so much analysis of the event from a footballing point of view available, so let’s be nerdy and take a linguistic look instead. Who will get bragging rights come the final whistle, who will squawk and screech and howl in protest at the inevitable controversies to come?

In the top half of the draw, one semifinalist will come from the winners of  ….

  • Brazil v Chile
  • Colombia v Uruguay

It’s a Romance language affair – 1 x Brazilian Portuguese team among 3 x South American Spanish teams. The pressure on Brazil to perform at home is enormous. Chile and Colombia look dangerous.

... and the other semifinalist will emerge from 

  • France v Nigeria
  • Germany v Algeria

European giants v African outsiders; The languages involved, of course, are French (some commentators are calling Algeria the French B team), Arabic, German and English, bearing in mind that there are many, many languages African languages in Nigeria.

football-114653_1280In the bottom half of the draw, one semifinalist will come from the winners of  ….

  • Netherlands v Mexico
  • Costa Rica v Greece

This is Europe v Latin America; Dutch and Greek against Latanish/Spatin.

... and the other semifinalist will emerge from 

  • Argentina v Switzerland
  • Belgium v USA

So many languages involved here! Spanish via Argentina (and it’s increasingly important in the United States); Swiss French, Swiss German, Swiss Italian – and let’s not forget Romansh; Belgian Dutch (Flemish), Belgian French, Belgian German and Walloon (a Romance language), and American English.

People are saying it has been Latin America’s tournament so far, so just going by the force of numbers, Spanish has to be the best bet. But things can quickly change – in a couple of hours at least one, if not two, of those Spanish speaking teams will be gone. Now I am signing off to catch 2 hours’ sleep before Brazilian Portuguese takes on La Roja Spanish at the ungodly hour of 2am Australian time. If  your team is still in the competition, good luck!


Sex, cocktails and the World Cup: a uniquely Brazilian way to score

caipirinha condomThe World Cup is on and everyone has got to cash in on it somehow, particularly businesses in the host country Brazil. Not all the action happens on the field, of course. There is all the celebrating and partying and socialising that goes on too. You know, lots of kissing, hugging and biting. With that in mind, mischievous condom manufacturer Prudence has brought out a limited edition Caipirinha-flavoured condom. Caipirinha is Brazil’s national cocktail, made with cachaça (alcohol distilled from sugar cane juice), sugar and lime. I hope they bring out a feijoada version too (feijoada is the national dish, a stew made with black beans and pork). FIFA should cash in on this too and make it the official condom of the World Cup.

I’m partial to caipirinhas, vodka too. I’m so looking forward to the limited edition FIFA 2018 Russian World Cup condom, which is bound to have lots of vodka in it. I’m not sure what the limited edition 2022 Qatari World Cup condom will be, maybe a date juice-flavoured condom for those who like hot dates?

Watch out for the pingadeira!

Incidentally, another word for cachaça is pinga. When I first went to Brazil with my Portuguese-Australian friends, our hosts at a pousada in Paraty were saying we should go to a festival da pinga, which we thought meant a festival of the penis. 😀 (We don’t often come across pinga here in Australia.) But as you will see there are some kind of sex-related connotations in the related vocab:

  • uma pinga: a drop; booze (formal); a gulp, swallow; a roof gutter; a penniless person (all informal or popular usage)
  • estar na pinga: to be drunk
  • pingadeira: a dripping pan; small but continuous receipts; constant expense; (Brazilian usage) the clap, gonorrhea 
  • pingado: besprinkled, full of drops; drunk; coffee with a few drops of milk added

I don’t think Prudence is a good name for a condom brand – it’s too dull and earnest. It’s sex for prudes. Protuberance or Exuberance would be much better.

essential party vocabulary in my five Romance languages


If you enjoyed this post, or if you are thinking of making condom purchases, you might like to read about the Romanian computer hacker with a penchant for grape-flavoured condoms, a story where you can also find what the words are for “condom” in my five Romance languages.

Portugal’s World Cup woe – a five-language selection of headlines on the ‘selecção’

The Portuguese national team (a selecção nacional) made headlines for all the wrong reasons in their opening World Cup soccer game. Here is a sample of newspaper and online headlines in My Five Romance languages. The best one, in my opinion, is by the Gazeta Sporturilor.

Portuguese language newspapers

From Publico

G4P0 Publico

G4P0 Publico2

From Diário de Notícias

G4P0 DN2


From Record

G4P0 Record

From A Bola

G4P0 a bOLA

Spanish language newspapers

From El Mundo

G4P0 El Mundo

From El País

G4P0 El Pais

From El Espectador (Colombia)

G4P0 El Esp

Italian newspapers

From La Repubblica

G4P0 la Repub

From La Gazzetta dello Sport

G4P0 La Gazzetta

French newspapers

From L’Equipe

G4P0 L'Equipe

 From Le Nouvel Observateur

G4p) LeNO1

G4P0 Le NO2

Romanian newspapers

A clever headline in the Gazeta Sporturilor

G4P0 Gazeta S

From Adevărul

G4P0 Adevarul

Go Portugal! Vai Portugal! May the força be with you (and Germany too)

In a few hours Portugal will face Germany in their opening match of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. So what better time is there to sing along and dance to the official anthem of support for Portugal in the World Cup, Vai Portugal sung by Kika. Is it a winner? Sim!

I don’t know anything about Kika but I found a website page in Portuguese which has some information about the song.

As you can probably guess, I am very fond of Portugal and the Portuguese, their language, their food, their hospitality, their home-grown wines etc etc. But I have a little conflict of interest with this match. You see, when all the World Cup teams were put into a hat and we made the office draw, guess which team Bernardo drew? Yes, Germany. So, ahem, Go Germany Go! Vai Alemanha!

Maybe a draw would be the best outcome.

While we are talking international relations, here is another Kika song I found. It’s in English, featuring Andreas Wijk, a Swedish dude. Go Sweden!

Brazil and the World Cup: do you like what you see? Nudist players included!

Image from Pixabay

Image from Pixabay

Four days into the World Cup and it looks like all the predictions that it would be a shambles have proved to be false. From the comfort of my armchair, the tournament looks fabulous; it’s a riot of colour, the goals are flowing (an average of 3.36 goals a game, up to and including the Argentina v Bosnia-Hertzegovina match, compared with an average of 2.27 goals a game in South Africa in 2010), and the images of Brazil look splendid. I feel sorry for the team from Croatia, though. In the opening match against the host team, which they eventually lost 3-1, I felt they were hard done by the referee, and now they are up in arms because spying photographers took photos of their players swimming in the nude at what looks like a very lush, tropical resort.

Of course, while there is no denying the natural beauty of Brazil, what you see on your television screens tends to be the sanitised version. Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro may look spectacular, for example, but it is heavily polluted with the run-off from the inadequate housing and sanitation facilities in Rio’s favelas.

The social problems and inequalities in Brazil are well known, having been drawn to our attention, both by protesters and the media, and quite rightly so, for these are issues that have to be tackled, not just in Brazil, but everywhere. In Australia, for example, which is supposed to be a “wealthy”, mainly middle-class country, there was a report out today by The Guardian Australia website that the nation’s nine richest people (yes, nine individuals) have more money than the bottom 20 per cent of the population, or 4.54 million people. And the richest 1 per cent of Australians have the same wealth as the bottom 60 per cent. On a global scale, the same article says that the richest 85 people in the world are as wealthy as half the world’s population, 3.5 billion. As one Australian newspaper put it – accidentally – in a recent front-page headline, The world is fukt.

Brazil host citiesFrom this blog’s point of view, hopefully the World Cup in Brazil will stimulate interest in that country and in the Portuguese language, just as it did for me when I first visited that country more than a decade ago, and let’s hope that some of the tourist money flowing into that country at the moment goes into the pockets of the people who need it most.

If you have never been to Brazil and are contemplating a visit, you might like to read my guide on the best that the country has to offer, which was published recently on the website of Australia’s best-selling magazine, The Australian Women’s Weekly.


Chesty Brazilian singer Alexandre Pires back in the limelight

Performing at an Avicii-style, dance music pace must have been quite a challenge for Alexandre Pires, the Brazilian singer on the official 2014 FIFA World Cup anthem, Dar Um Jeito. Pires is better known as a crooner of smooth romantic ballads, and is one of the few Brazilian superstars who has also managed to crack the Latin (Spanish-speaking) market, including in the United States, with this type of music. Dar Um Jeito is the fastest I’ve ever heard him sing! I can’t envisage him becoming a rapper.

Alexandre Pires came from a musical family and along with his brother and cousin was a member of a popular group Só Pra Contrariar (often known as SPC for short), who had considerable chart success in the 1990s in Brazil. However, he left them in 2002 to go solo and their fortunes waned somewhat after that while his international career took off. However, Pires recently got together with SPC again for their 25th anniversary compilation, recorded live in Porto Alegre. One of the songs from it, Recordações, (which could be translated as recollections, remembrances, souvenirs) recently made the Brazilian top 10. It is very typical of his and the band’s style.

Pires baresEstrela-guiaPires often appears in a white vest, or topless, to show off his chest. The example pictured left is the cover of his very successful album from 2003, Estrela Guia (Estrella Guia in Spanish). But if you do a image search on him on the internet you will find more provocative poses and you might even come across a photo or two of him in a revealing, wet white swimming costume or “sunga branca”. Anyway, this next song is one of the singles from that album, Bum Bum Bum. Now, I know what you’re thinking – you’re imagining it’s a homage to the human posterior, or rather three human posteriors. But you’re wrong, it’s not about bums, it’s about boom boom booms, the beating of a heart. Now there’s a pronunciation lesson for you.

Pires often re-records his songs in Spanish to target the rest of the South American market; if you would like to compare the two versions of what was probably his biggest hit, see my post entitled Great songs in one language or another.

Here’s a more recent single, A Chave É O Seu Perdão (The Key is Your Forgiveness/Pardon), taken from his most recent solo album Eletrosamba, which won a Grammy award last year.


What’s all this ‘dar um jeito’ business in Brazil’s Avicii-inspired World Cup anthem?

As well as the official 2014 FIFA World Cup song, there is also an official 2014 FIFA World Cup anthem, Dar Um Jeito. Why? To get double the publicity for One Love, One Rhythm – The 2014 FIFA World Cup Official Album. It’s not just about soccer, it’s also about money and merchandising!

The anthem is great and, unlike the offical song, has a reasonable amount of Portuguese, sung by Alexandre Pires. It also features Mexican-born Carlos Santana on guitar (still going strong at 66), Haitian-born hip-hopper Wyclef Jean doing the English vocals and Swedish DJ Avicii, doing the dance beats, and the four of them are apparently going to perform at the World Cup closing ceremony in Rio de Janeiro. The Avicii influence is very strong on this, which is probably why it is so catchy…

What does dar um jeito mean? The song’s English subtitle, We Will Find A Way, gives a clue. The word jeito has many meanings which I will cover fully when I post the J words in my Quirky Vocabulary series (the last bit I did was about the G words being orgasmic, but I haven’t posted H, I and J yet). But basically jeito is an aptitude, manner, way (of behaving or acting), skill or knack. Dar means to give, and dar um jeito means to manage, engineer (a result), find a way or do something about.

Here are two sample sentences from the Michaelis Moderno Dicionário Português-Inglês:

  • ela sempre dá um jeito de ficar mais bonita do que as outras
  • she always manages to look prettier than the others
  • ele tem de dar um jeito nesta sua vida
  • he’s got to do something about that life he leads

The Michaelis Dicionário Escolar Português-Francês gives this

  • dar um jeito
  • s’y retrouver, rafistoler

I hope Dar um Jeito does well worldwide, if only to get people to hear more of the Portuguese language.

First impressions of One Love, One Rhythm

You never really learn much about world music on the official World Cup albums, but this one has enough Brazilian linguistic and musical involvement to give you an idea of the rhythms of samba, bossa nova and pagode, even if it sticks mainly to the usual suspects such as Bebel Gilberto, Carlinhos Brown and Sergio Mendes. You can listen to the whole album below, although adverts seem to pop up unexpectedly in the middle of songs from time to time (there is no escaping commercialisation). I particularly like Canadian band MAGIC!‘s rendition of This Is Our Time (Agora É a Nossa Hora). Other big names on the album are Shakira, Ricky Martin and The Isley Brothers. There is even an appearance by Baha Men of Who Let The Dogs Out? fame! Who let them out?

See also The official World Cup song: too much bull for Brazilians’ liking 

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.