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.
- Italian, Spanish and Portuguese are very closely related except for Italian’s “incubo“
- The French and Romanian “nightmares” are very similar.
- 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.
- Romanian appears to be doing the “vision” thing when it comes to dreams.
- 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…