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.


Tales of four cities (and more)

Talking of football (see Bernardo’s previous post), there is bound to be much inter-city tension and taunting on the Iberian peninsula this weekend. In the Spanish football league, Barcelona host their great rivals Real Madrid later today. In Portugal, the only two teams that are still unbeaten after seven rounds of matches, Porto and Sporting Lisbon, meet in Porto on Sunday night. It would be a great time to be in one of those cities, seeing all the local fans gathered in the cafes and bars, glued to the television screens, “oohing” and gesticulating at all the on-field drama and cursing the stupid referees. Let’s hope there will be lots of “ggoooooooooaaaaaaaallls”.


Barcelona (Photo credit: kygp)

Bernardo has only been to Barcelona once, as a child on a cruise on board an Italian cargo/passenger ship, The Africa, owned by Lloyd Triestino. He doesn’t remember much about the city apart from going up to the castle and gazing down below (probably he had only one full day in the city). That was in 1969, so prono doubt the views have changed a lot since then. But everyone that Bernardo knows who has been to Barcelona more recently has raved about the place and said they think he would really like it. Bernardo, you’ll have to find a spot for Barcelona in your diary soon, OK?

Puerta de Alcalá in Madrid, was designed and b...

Madrid (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Those who have also been to Madrid say, without meaning to sound derogatory about it or anything, that is cultured and elegant, but perhaps not as vibrant as Barcelona, from a tourist point of view. Bernardo was last in Spain in 2011, and would have dearly loved to have gone to see the capital, for its monuments, museums, palaces, plaza, and night life (by this Bernardo means the restaurants, he is at the age when frequenting the night clubs might make him look ridiculous, but only a teeny weeny bit ridiculous, nothing that a toupee wouldn’t fix, haha). But Bernardo didn’t really have the time or nerve in 2011 to venture into Madrid in a hired car, so instead stuck to the quieter spots near the Portuguese border, such as Caceres, Merida and Salamanca (all great places). You can read Bernardo’s newspaper account of his impressions of Caceres here.

The Castle of São Jorge occupies a commanding ...

Lisbon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Across the border in Portugal, Lisbon is one of Bernardo’s favourite places. Once you have got your bearings (the most important thing is to find easy ways of getting up the hills from the squares in the lower parts of the city) you feel totally at ease and wander around as if you own the place. There are some great excursions nearby too – Belem, Estoril and Cascais along the Tagus estuary, and Sintra in the hills. And of course there are all those great cafes with good coffee and Portuguese custard tarts.

"Pérgola" at Foz do Douro, Porto, Po...

Foz do Douro, Porto (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In contrast, Bernardo has found it difficult to warm to Porto, the big city in the north. Perhaps that’s because he has only ever been in it as a day visitor, and maybe it is one of those cities that you need to immerse yourself in and it grows on you. It would be great, for instance, to dine at night at one of the restaurants on the quay overlooking the river Douro, or do a cruise up the river, glass of Port in  hand. Last time he was there in 2011, though, Bernardo did like the western suburbs of the city, the coastal stretch from Foz do Douro up to Matosinhos. But Porto’s city centre itself has always struck him as rather grey and foreboding, in contrast to Lisbon, which is bright and colorful. Bernardo’s preferred base in the north of Portugal is Aveiro, you can read why here.

Back to the football: In Spain’s Primera Division, Barcelona are the only unbeaten team and lead with 25 points, one ahead of Athletico Madrid and three ahead of Real Madrid. In the Primeira Liga, Porto are leading on 19 points, Sporting have 17 and the other Lisbon giant, Benfica, are in third place on 14. If the host teams win, they will be further ahead and favourites for the title, even though it is early in the season. If the visitors win, the competitions will be wide open, Which of the those cities will be the brighter and more cheerful in football terms come Monday morning?

See the various articles below for other people’s perspectives on these places.

How’s your Brazilian slush fund looking?

FIFA World Cup South Africa

Remember the vuvuzelas at the FIFA World Cup in South Africa 2010? What will we see in Brazil in 2014? (Photo credit: Craig Strachan)

Bernardo still holds hope that he will soon win the lottery and will actually be able to afford to go to the World Cup in June 2014 in Brazil, where he will be able to practise his Portuguese with the locals, and his Spanish and Italian and possibly his French and Romanian with all those visiting fans. No doubt when Bernardo arrives in Brazil people will find him charming and pleasant to talk to and will want to buy him a beer or two. Possibly even a meal. As long as they don’t expect him to buy them anything in return, all should be fine.

Bernardo had an anxious time earlier in the week wondering which team he would support if Portugal and Romania (two of his favourite countries) were drawn together in the play-offs that will decide the last four European teams to qualify for the World Cup soccer tournament in Brazil next year. What would you prefer, two of your sentimental picks being paired together, thus guaranteeing that at least one will be there, or would you want them kept apart in the hope that both could make it – but also having to face the danger that none of them will make it? Have faith in your two favourites, that’s what Bernardo says.

Before the last round of group matches, Portugal had been certain of a place in at least the play-offs, but Romania had to beat Estonia and rely on the Netherlands not losing to Turkey to progress. On a nail-biting night, Romania won and Turkey lost.

Bernardo also had to face the possibility that France, a country he likes and one that is very relevant to this blog, would be drawn against Portugal. Bernardo was a great fan of France in the Michel Platini era (in the, ahem, mid-1980s), but has kind off gone off them now, for some reason. Bernardo doesn’t like it when the same teams win trophies over and over again – and he always wanted France to win a World Cup. Once they achieved that (in 1998), it no longer seemed so urgent.

As it happens, those three teams were kept apart. Portugal were drawn against Sweden (who will be formidable opposition), France have a tricky tie against Ukraine, Romania play Greece and the final pairing is little Iceland against Croatia. The matches take place in mid-November. The four winners will join Belgium, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Russia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, England and title holders Spain as the European contingent in Brazil next June-July. It was great to see Spain finally win it last time round in South Africa – Bernardo had been tipping Spain to win it for at least a decade, before that – they had such great players (Raul, Luis Enrique, Morientes et al). Great, too, that the tournament was held in Africa.

The South American qualifiers for Brazil 2014 are Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador, while the fifth-placed team, Uruguay, will have to play off against the fifth-placed team from Asia, Jordan. Uruguay will be firm favourites to win that one. Bernardo will be supporting little Jordan in that one, partly because it is always welcome to see new faces at the tournament (Uruguay are regulars and have won the World Cup twice), and partly because he is very fond of that country, which he visited as a journalist last year. You can read his impressions of Jordan in The Australian Financial Review’s Sophisticated Traveller magazine here. You didn’t know that Bernardo was sophisticated, did you? 🙂

The Asian zone teams that qualified are Iran, Japan, South Korea, Australia.

Turning to North and Central America, The United States, Chile and Honduras will definitely be in Brazil, and the fourth-placed team in their qualifying zone, Mexico, have to play off against Oceania winners New Zealand. Mexico are lucky to still be in with a chance. Really, Panama should be playing New Zealand instead. In their last game, Panama were leading the US 2-1 in extra time but amazingly conceded two goals in the 93rd and 94th minutes of the match to blow the opportunity. They must be kicking themselves.

Which leaves Africa. The first legs of the final deciders have already been played and the return legs will be in mid-November. Ghana thumped Egypt 6-1 so should be there, but the other matches finished thus: Burkina Faso 3 Algeria 2; Côte D’Ivoire 3 Senegal 1; Ethiopia 1 Nigeria 2, and Tunisia 0 Cameroon 0.

Incidentally, Brazil are the only team to have played in all the 19 World Cup tournaments held so far. The first was in 1930 and it is held ever four years, but the 1942 and 1946 ones were not held because of the second world war. Brazil last hosted the tournament in 1950, so today’s sports fans all over the world will finally get a good look into Brazilian language and culture.

Igazu falls - Brazil

On Bernardo’s bucket list: Iguacu falls in Brazil (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

So if your national  team is going to be there or is still in the running, we might see you around in Brazil some time soon (you’re going to win your national lottery too, right?). But if your nation has missed the boat to Brazil, well, good luck for Russia, which will be hosting the tournament for the first time in 2018. Start putting your coins in your piggy bank for that one now….

Russia is hosting the 2014 winter Olympics, and as well as the 2014 World Cup Brazil is hosting the 2016 Olympics, so as far as languages go you would have to say that really Portuguese and Russian are the flavours of the moment. (This paragraph has been inserted here to try to bring some intellectual content to what is basically a discussion about football. I hope you fell for that trick.) See you next time. 🙂

And the world’s friendliest Romance country is …

Portuguese Dancers

Ola amigos! They’re a friendly bunch. Portuguese dancers (Photo credit: jasewong)

The World Economic Forum’s latest list of the most friendly and unfriendly countries to visit has generated lots of publicity over the past few days. Most newspapers or websites focused on the top 10 and bottom 10 out of the 140 countries featured in the survey, plus of course whatever position their own particular country happened to be in. But it was hard to track down what countries occupied positions 11 to 130. In fact, the “what are the friendliest countries?” list was a minor item in a major report – it was a table on page 445 (yes, 445) of the WEF’s Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2013. The table was headed “Attitude of population toward foreign visitors” and sub-headed: “How welcome are foreign visitors in your country?”


Glum’s the word. People of Bolivia (Photo credit: archer10 (Dennis)

Surveys such as this, no matter how scientific the data, are always subjective and superficial, and don’t forget this was a World Economic Forum survey (if it had been a World Backpacker Forum survey the results would have been very different) but, of course, people still want to read them all the same. So, for the record, Iceland and New Zealand took out the top two places and Venezuela and Bolivia came in at 139 and 140 respectively. (There are all up 196 countries in the world, but some are not politically recognised here and there, so the official count is in dispute). I don’t know why the WEF limited itself to 140.

So how did My Five Romance countries fare? The friendliest one by quite a wide margin was Portugal at No. 7. Parabens, Portugal! (parabens means congratulations).

Spain was ranked 57, Italy and France were quite far down the list at 79 and 80, respectively, while Romania came in at 122.

Happy Canada Day

A cheerful Canadian (Photo credit: Anirudh Koul)

The official and unofficial Francophone countries did much better than their Spanish counterparts. Morocco (3), Senegal (6), Burkino Faso (10), Canada (12), Mali (14), Belgium (19), Rwanda (21), Switzerland (23), Mauritius (28), and Seychelles (29), all came in the top 30, whereas the best the Spanish-speaking world could do was Puerto Rico at 38, Costa Rica at 41, Mexico at 45, and Dominican Republic on 62. Uruguay was ranked 77, beating Chile (84), Colombia (88), El Salvador (90), Peru (96), Guatemala (97), Paraguay (101), Panama (111), Argentina (113), Ecuador  (119) and Honduras (125).

In the Portuguese-speaking world, Brazil made number 43 on the list (it had better improve when it hosts the next World Cup and Olympics) and Cape Verde 71. Mozambique was further back on 91, while Angola was one of the countries that was not featured in the survey.

If you happen to be in Romania and are unhappy with the level of friendliness, you could pop over the border into Moldova, which came almost 30 places ahead at 93 on the list.

The countries where this blog has the most readers are Australia (where I live), the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany, so I should mention them. Australia came 27th (New Zealanders will have been guffawing and crowing about that), the UK 55th, Germany 83rd and the US 102nd.

Smiley Face

But basically, no matter where you are in the world, the fact of the matter is that if you are polite, pleasant, patient and generally cheerful with the locals, they will respond by being warm and friendly to you too. Giving a grin gets you so much more than a frown. 🙂

Is Portuguese ready to steal the limelight?

Roman Catholic Portuguese school

Portuguese schools are back in vogue! A Roman Catholic Portuguese school (Photo credit: John Collier Jr.)

I was sitting in my doctor’s waiting room the other day (“waiting” being a very apt word) when the cover of the October 2012 edition of Monocle magazine caught my eye. The main blurb under the masthead read: Generation Lusophonia: why Portuguese is the new language of power and trade. Then for some reason it added in small print: Even if you live in Jo’burg (a reference to Johannesburg in South Africa). The cover featured three models, all young but not too young, and trendy. One was supposedly a man in high places in Brasilia, because it had an arrow pointing to him and the pop-up dialogue: Why you need friends in high places in Brasilia, and a translation in smaller print in Portuguese: Por que você precisa de amigos no alto escalão em Brasilia. There was a very Portuguese-looking woman in the middle representing the Azores: Why the Azores are the islands to watch, Por que os Açores são as ilhas para ficar de olho. And there was another trendy bloke who must be important in Luanda: His box said: Who you need to know in Luanda, Quem você precisa conhecer em Luanda. But if the magazine really believed Portuguese was the new language of power, it should have put the Portuguese in bigger type than the English, surely, to demonstrate the point. Or at least give both languages equal weighting.


Far out but worth going to have a look. One of the nine volcanic islands in the Azores archipelago in the North Atlantic Ocean. (Photo credit: amoosefloats)

Monocle is an impressive magazine in this day and age when print is supposed to be on its way out. This edition (issue 57) had 260 pages. As well as the cover stories, it had articles examining whether it was possible for Portuguese-speaking nations ever to form a coherent community; an interview with Brazil’s foreign minister; a look at the Brazilian coffee and retail industries; a look at 15 Lusaphone companies “making waves” in the business world; an article on why Portuguese and Brazilian middle-class tourists choose France as their top European destination; a round-up of Lusophone‘s best cultural figures; a look at Portugal’s cork industry (which I have also done myself as a journalist); and articles on Portuguese architects and a pictorial on “an African architectural gem”, Maputo.

English: Portuguese colonial residence, Maputo...

House proud. A Portuguese colonial residence, Maputo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sure, it is great to read that Luanda is buzzing, Maputo too, and of course Brazil is going to be in the international limelight when 12 of its cities host the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament and Rio de Janeiro hosts the Olympic Games in 2016. I have read one report that there has been increased interest in Portuguese at one college in London as people look forward to attending those sporting events in Brazil, but I am not greatly convinced that Portuguese is all the rage. Have a look at the language departments at any UK or US university and you’ll find Portuguese courses are pretty rare in comparison with Italian, French and Spanish, and other languages such as Mandarin. Which is sad when you consider that Portuguese is the sixth most spoken language in the world and French is just 18th and Italian 24th. (That said, there are some very interesting-looking courses at those universities that do cover Portuguese in depth.) You certainly won’t be able to specialise in Portuguese at any Australian university.

English: Joseph Blatter announcing 2014 World ...

And the winner is … Portuguese! Joseph Blatter announcing the 2014 World Cup will be held in Brazil.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What I think will happen is that Portuguese will start to take off after the World Cup in Brazil next year. Visiting soccer fans there will have a great time, their curiosity in the language and culture will be aroused, they will want to come back to explore it more, and by word of mouth they will get their friends interested too. Brazil is expecting a tourist boom not just in 2014 and 2016 but also in the period 2016-2020, because of the coverage that those sporting events will generate (people watching the games at home on television will be exposed to Brazil too). I just hope that the Lusophone countries take advantage of this and promote their languages and culture. How well prepared are they?

The Monocle magazine mentioned above offered ‘Ten tips for the Lusophone world’. The first one was: Speak up: The Portuguese language needs more promotion; Lusophone countries should club together to get their mother tongue on curriculums around the world. The Instituto Camões should adopt the gusto (and canny strategy) of the Alliance Française.”  I certainly agree with that. But the Instituto Camões is a Portuguese government initiative, and Portugual is a small country of about 11 million people and like much of Europe it is going through a period of economic austerity. It is time now surely for Brazil, which has a population of almost 200 million and now has one of the world’s leading economies, to step up to the plate and lead the promotional charge of the great Lusophone language and culture, don’t you think?

Let’s chat up the Portuguese, Brazilians and Angolans et al

English: Paraty from the bay (Brazil).

The old colonial town of Paraty, Brazil. (Photo: Wikipedia)

You’re in a country where the locals speak Portuguese …. it could be Brazil, it could be Angola or Mozambique, Cape Verde perhaps, or you could even be in Portugal itself. Because of Portugal’s maritime history, there is a good chance you are on a beach and eating fish and prawns (peixe e camarões). You could be in any number of exotic locations. Lucky you! In Brazil you might be atop Sugar Loaf mountain gazing down in awe at the city of Rio de Janeiro, or stepping back in time in one of its gorgeous colonial towns, such as Paraty, Olinda or Ouro Preto.

Kalandula waterfalls, Lucala river, Malange, A...

The Kalandula waterfalls in Angola (Photo: Wikipedia)

In Angola you could be gawking at the Kalandula waterfalls or the colourful Valley of the Moon. Some of the Portuguese people I know in Australia and the United States say Angola was the best country they had ever lived in. But I think they are harking back to the colonial days.

Over to the east coast of Africa,  Mozambique has many wonderful “undiscovered” beaches (it’s going to be the French Riviera of the 21st century,” one fan of the country tells me).  Or maybe you are in a beachside bar somewhere in the Cape Verde islands, drinking a beer (uma cerveja) and listening to a song by the local superstar Cesária Évora (we’ll dig one out on YouTube and put it at the end of this post.) Alas, she died in 2011 at the age of 70. She did come out to Australia on tour a few years ago: I wish I had gone to the concert. I particularly like her album from 2006, Rogamar. It was my introduction to her music.

English: Pena National Palace

The Pena palace in Sintra, Portugal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you were in Portugal, perhaps you would be up in the ramparts of the colourful Pena palace in Sintra, gazing out at the coastline extending far below, or having a pastel de nata, one of those delicious Portuguese custard tarts, in the Belém precinct, where so many tourist attractions related to Portugal’s golden age of discoveries (os descobrimentos) are clumped together.

There, I have written enough to justify putting in a whole series of pretty pictures!

Now, you want to get talking. To greet someone in Portuguese you would say bom dia (literally good day, but also good morning), and if you were a stickler for timing after midday you could say boa tarde (good afternoon). Bom is the masculine form and boa is the feminine. Good evening or goodnight is boa noite, while uma noite em festa is a night out. The people in these parts of the world like to have festas – feasts, parties, celebrations.

Less formally, if you wanted to say hi it would be oi or olá or alô (the accents indicate where the stress falls). A casual how are you? is tudo bem? or como vai? (more literally, all well? and how is it going?). To be more formal, you might say como está, o senhor? to a man or como está, a senhora? to a woman.

The answer to this should be bem, obrigado if you are a man, and bem, obrigada, if you are a woman, meaning well, thanks. On related notes, bem, bem! means well, well! while meu bem! means my darling, honey or sweetheart (it’s probably a bit old-fashioned).

After you have told someone how well you are, you should ask them back, so say e você? meaning and you? Or more politely, e o senhor? or e a senhora? (e means and, not to be confused with é, which is is).

Splendid! Now you are getting on like a house on fire (dar-se bem com means to get along with).

Incidentally, a morning in Portuguese is uma manhã, while o amanhã means the future as a noun, or tomorrow as an adverb, so tomorrow morning becomes the very poetic amanhã de manhã. However, don’t confuse that with a manha (without an accent) which means cunning or an act (fake). Fazer manha is to put on an act.

This leads us to a woman who was a class act, the aforementioned Cesária Évora. Because of her recent death, it seemed appropriate to choose this, one of her more sombre songs, the opening track of the Rogamar album. It’s called Sombras di distino (Shadows of destiny). I will paste the lyrics underneath. I found them translated at this website. It’s a beautifully mournful song, don’t you think?

Sombras di Destino                  Shadows of Destiny

Parti pa terra longe                  To leave for a distant land
Foi sempre nha ilusão             was always my illusion
E ali ja’m esta                          And here I am finally
Di sorriso falso                        With a forced smile,
Margurado e triste                    Bitter and sad
Ta vaga di mar em mar           I will wander from sea to sea
Ta corrê di vento em vento      I will travel from wind to wind
Em busca di um futuro            Searching for a future
Entre sombras di distino          Amidst the shadows of the destiny

Nha vida ê zig-zagant’               My life is an endless toing and froing
Sina di um fidjo caboverdiano    It’s the fate of a Cape-verdian son
Num paz inconstante                 To live an unconstant peace
Cma distino di um cigano           Like the fate of a gypsy
M’ta vivê tormentado                   I will live with torments
Num mundo cheio di maldade   In a world filled with evil
Nha sorte ê dori e magoado     My destiny is so hurt and sorrowful
Na um silencio di sodade        Into a silence of longing

* Note: some of the Portuguese above seems to be the local creole version.

Hey you! Which ‘you’ should you use?

London Opinion

London Opinion (Photo credit: Vintaga Posters)

In French and Portuguese you have to be careful which form of the second person subject pronoun (tu or vous in French, tu or você in Portuguese) you use, because there are social distinctions to consider. In English, this doesn’t apply because nowadays we use you to cover every situation (the language having dropped “thou” some time ago, although it is still used in prayers, hymns etc).

If you are learning Brazilian Portuguese perhaps the guide books will mention that there is a tu form but will say it is never used in Brazil so you don’t have to bother learning it. Great, you might think, I won’t bother! Which is exactly what I did. It was one less verb form to learn off by heart. But I soon regretted it. When you go to Portugal you soon realise that tu is used widely, and then you have play catch-up with your learning.

In Brazil the situation is simple, você is used for the second person singular and vocês for the second person plural, regardless of social distinctions. Here, for example, is a Brazilian tutor on You Tube (search for the name 100VKK) running through the verbs ser and estar…. note the total absence of tu. But also note that the verb is the same for both the second and third persons.

(Incidentally, her English accent is typical of a Brazilian, and it is quite useful to recognise that accent because if you are in an English speaking country and you hear someone talking like that, you can be sure they are Brazilian. Then you should wander over and chat in Portuguese, for practice. Brazilians have a unique way of speaking English, in my opinion, and I really like their accent.)

In Portugal, however, tu is used in informal social contexts (among one’s peers, friends, and lovers, and you will hear it a lot in love songs). Você might be used for more formal situations (addressing a stranger, or one’s elders or superiors, for example) but even here you have to be careful. Using você might be disrespectful – it could imply disdain or scorm. (As in “You! Winning a prize. I don’t think so!”) It is far safer when approaching a strange man to use o senhor, or a senhora for a strange woman, and again here you would use the same verb ending as you would for the third person ele or ela.

I have no idea what the situation is with tu and você in the other former Portuguese colonies such as Angola. If anyone can enlighten us on this point, please do so.

In French, the situation is not as complicated as it is in Portugal. Tu would be used in the same circumstances, while vous would be used more formally. The vous singular takes the same verb form as the vous plural, though, but if there are adjectives involved they will have to agree in number – vous êtes malade (you, singular, are sick), vous êtes malades (you, plural, are sick).

To give you a sample of a Portuguese accent as opposed to a Brazilian one, using the verb ser, here is a song Eu não sou ela (I am not her) by Rebeca. I quite like the tune, but can’t work out why the video to this song, which I presume is about a love triangle, involves Rebeca standing on a roof or wandering around looking lost. Perhaps that is what love triangles do to people, make you sing on rooftops. Anyway, enjoy it and note that sou is pronounced like sew or sow and not like sue….

The first part of the chorus goes like this: Porque eu não sou ela/eu sou eu, e não posso ser a mulher que eu não sou (Because I am not her, I am me, and cannot be the woman that I am not.) Later I will try to translate the whole song. I found the complete lyrics (letras in Portuguese) at the Animar a Malta website, which specialises in Portuguese music and has links to lots of Portuguese music radio stations. Cool! Or as one might say in Portuguese, Legal!

Eu dei-te algum tempo para esquecer

A lembrança que até hoje te consome

Até te perdoei por te querer

Essas vezes que trocavas o meu nome

Mas hoje cansei-me de fingir

De usar roupas e perfumes que ela usava

Eu posso te amar mas vou sair, não te quero dividir

E não posso mais vencer esse fantasma

Porque eu não sou ela (não sou ela)

Eu sou eu

E não posso ser a mulher que não sou

Porque eu não sou ela (não sou ela)

Digo adeus

Não posso vencer a força desse amor (x2)

Eu tentei lutar contra esse amor

E as recordações que tinhas do passado

Mas como ganhar contra quem foi

E é ainda quem tu vês em todo o lado

Agora acabei por desistir

E deixar-te com essa paixão perdida

Pois sei que não posso mais seguir

A saber e a sentir que nunca vou ser o amor da tua vida

Porque eu não sou ela (não sou ela)

Eu sou eu

E não posso ser a mulher que não sou

Porque eu não sou ela (não sou ela)

Digo adeus

Não posso vencer a força desse amor (x2)


Porque eu não sou ela (não sou ela)

Eu sou eu

E não posso ser a mulher que não sou

Porque eu não sou ela (não sou ela)

Digo adeus

Não posso vencer a força desse amor (x2)