Rejoice! A new My Five Romances is coming

Change signHere’s something I hope you will look forward to: I will shortly be moving this blog to a new website (http://myfiveromances.com) with a more vibrant and modern layout, using a variant of the Soledad theme which I and three other journalists use in our travel magazine-style website, Time To Wander. If you have not yet wandered there, please take a look!

The change is overdue: I started this blog in late 2012, using the TwentyEleven WordPress theme, as a way of branching out from an old-style print journalist to a … well, an old-style print journalist with some digital and social media skills. But it was also to force me to get back in touch with languages that I had studied but had neglected, and to learn some new ones along the way. Five romances is a bit ambitious: perhaps three would have been better!

The first couple of years were promising as the number of visitors shot up and doubled from 2013 to 2014 but after that I had to throw my energies into getting Time to Wander up and running, as well as taking on exciting but very demanding new roles in print journalism and getting my diploma in teaching English as a second language. My posts became infrequent and my romance language skills waned.

I am looking forward to starting afresh, and aim to have the new-look My Five Romances up before Easter, when I will be travelling to Portugal and Spain, to be immersed not only in Portuguese and Spanish but the Galician language, Gallego (sometimes written as Galego), which is similar to Portuguese. Hopefully the locals will understand me when I ask for prawns and custard tarts.

Thank you for being part of this journey.  Bear with me in the meantime. Cheers!

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Maribel Verdú driven to drink in hilarious Spanish movie

nullHola amigos! The Spanish film festival is winding up in Australia (although Perth has three more days to go). I caught seven films in all on top of a busy working schedule, so me siento orgulloso de mi mismo – I am feeling pretty pleased with myself.

The film chosen as the opening night special The Tribe – La Tribu, (click here for info and trailer) proved every bit as fun as anticipated. It’s a great feel-good movie.

Here’s another that I highly recommend. It’s actually the Spanish remake of a film made in Chile in 2016 and was such a hit that a Mexican remake soon followed, and now Spain is getting in on the act, with the marvellous Maribel Verdú (pictured above, at right) playing the lead. (Read about all three versions here).

No Filter – Sin Rodeos

I haven’t found a subtitled trailer for this yet, but you’ll get the gist of it anyway. On IMDB (the Internet Movie Data Base) the film is listed as “Empowered”.

In the film Maribel Verdú has a whale of a time going from a as-meek-as-a-mouse downtrodden woman named Paz to a lioness who roars and lashes out with her claws: revenge proves to be very sweet and satisfying.

PotionMuch of Paz’s new-found courage is down to a mysterious potion that she is given by a shonky guru whose mysticism – and some prominent advertising – somehow lures her into his den. He warns her to take only a sip, but she downs it in one go. Will she need her stomach pumped? And will she lose all her strength after it has passed through her digestive system? Or is it really the potion that has such a radical effect? Maybe the mental strength has been in her head all along, just waiting for something to unleash it.

Either way, the leash comes off the results are hilarious. The film had the audience in stitches of laughter, and it’s much funnier than the trailer above suggests.

easelSome of the best scenes involve her and her insufferable pompous, pretentious painter/artist of a husband (a superb performance by Argentinian actor Rafael Spregelburd) who seems to be suffering a chronic case of the artist’s equivalent of writer’s block.
But Paz, too, proves a dab hand with the paint, and the scene where he finally gets his comeuppance is a treasure. Anyone who has ever been bemused or befuddled by modern art will be tickled pink with the outcome.

If you happen to be a cat lover (or are exasperated by cat lovers) you should also see this film – I’m not going to say any more.

Definite and indefinite articles in the main Romance languages

Hello Romance language lovers, here is another revision sheet (I use the tag “revision” for this series), culled and simplified from previous posts. The info has also been put into each language’s Grammar section on the main menu.

FRENCH

indefinite articles

  • un is used with masculine nouns (un livre = a book)
  • une is used with feminine nouns (une plume = a pen)

definite articles

  • le is used with masculine nouns (le père = the father)
  • la is used with feminine nouns (la mère = the mother)
  • l’ is used in front of a vowel (l’enfant = the child)
  • les is used with plurals (les parents = the parents)

For more on nouns and how to use articles in French, go here.

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PORTUGUESE

INDEFINITE ARTICLES

  • um is used with masculine singular nouns (um copo = a cup, glass or tumbler)
  • uma is used with feminine singular nouns (uma cidade = a city)
  • uns is used with masculine plural nouns (uns copos = some cups)
  • umas is used with feminine plural nouns (umas cidades = some cities

DEFINITE ARTICLES

  • o is used with masculine singular  nouns (o livro = the book)
  • os is used with masculine plural nouns (os livros = the books
  • a is used with feminine singular nouns (a caneta = the pen)
  • as is used with feminine plural nouns (as canetas = the pens).

NOTE: there is no change with articles in front of a noun beginning with a vowel

  • o amigo = the (male) friend; uma amiga = a female friend

For more on nouns and how to use articles in Portuguese, go here.

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SPANISH

INDEFINITE ARTICLES

  • un is used with masculine singular nouns (un camino = a path)
  • una is used with feminine singular nouns (una ciudad = a city)
  • unos is used with masculine plural nouns (unos caminos = some paths)
  • unas is used with feminine plural nouns (unas ciudades = some cities)

DEFINITE ARTICLES

  • el is used with masculine singular nouns (el camino = the path)
  • la is used with feminine singular nouns (la ciudad = the city)
  • los is used with masculine plural nouns (los caminos = the paths)
  • las is used with feminine plural nouns (las ciudades = the cities)

NOTE: Feminine nouns that start with ha or a stressed a take the masculine article in the singular but the feminine in the plural:

  • un arma, el arma, las armas (an arm, the arm/arms, in a military sense)
  • un hacha, el hacha, las hachas (an axe, the axe/axes)

For more on nouns and how to use articles in Spanish, go here.

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ITALIAN

INDEFINITE ARTICLES

  • un is used with most masculine nouns (un ragazzo = a boy)
  • uno goes with masculine nouns starting with z or s+consonant (uno zio = an uncle, uno sbaglio = a mistake)
  • una goes with feminine nouns starting with a consonant (una ragazza = a girl)
  • un’ goes with feminine nouns starting with a vowel (un’automobile = a car)

SINGULAR DEFINITE ARTICLES

  • il is used with most masculine nouns (il ragazzo = the boy)
  • lo is used with masculine nouns beginning with or s+consonant (lo zio = the uncle, lo sbaglio = the mistake)
  • la is used with feminine nouns (la ragazza = the girl)
  • l’ is used instead of lo or la in front of vowels (l’animale = the animal)

PLURAL DEFINITE ARTICLES

  • i goes with most masculine nouns starting with consonants (i ragazzi = the boys)
  • gli is used before any masculine nouns beginning with a vowel, z or  s+consonant (gli amici = the friends, gli zii = the uncles, gli studenti = the students).
  • le is used with feminine nouns, even if they begin with a vowel (le amiche = the female friends, le madri = the mothers).

For more on nouns and how to use articles in Italian, go here and here.

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ROMANIAN

Romanian has masculine, feminine and neuter nouns. Neuter nouns behave like masculine nouns in the singular, but feminine nouns in the plural. The formation of plurals in Romanian is not as simple as in the other Romance languages, there are a number of options depending on whether the noun ends in particular vowels or consonants. Spelling and phonetic changes can occur.

INDEFINITE ARTICLES

  • un is used with masculine singular nouns (un băiat = a boy)
  • un is used with neuter singular nouns (un timbru = a postage stamp)
  • o is used with feminine singular nouns (o casă = a house)
  • nişte is used with plurals (nişte băieţi = some friends, nişte case = some houses)

DEFINITE ARTICLES

The definite article is a suffix (attached to the end of the noun), and again the suffixes can vary depending on what vowels or consonants the noun ends in. And because it is a suffix, the plural forms of nouns taking a definite article will be different to the plural forms used with the indefinite nişte above. Here are some typical examples.

Masculine nouns: the singular suffix is typically –l, –ul or –le, and in the plural it’s i

  • băiat (boy), băiatul (the boy), băieţii (the boys)
  • membru (member), membrul (the member), membrii (the members)
  • unchi (uncle), unchiul (the uncle), unchii (the uncles)
  • munte (mountain), muntele (the mountain), munţii

Feminine nouns: the singular suffix is –a or –ua and in the plural it’s –le

  • fată (girl), fata (the girl), fetele (the girls)
  • blană (fur), blana (the fur), blănurile (the furs)
  • cafea (coffee), cafeaua (the coffee), cafelele (the coffees)

Neuter nouns: the singular suffix is typically –l, –ul or –le, and in the plural it’s always –le.

  • ou (egg), oul (the egg), ouăle (the eggs)
  • vin (wine), vinul (the wine), vinurile (the wines)
  •  tricou (T-Shirt), tricoul (the T-shirt), tricourile (the T-shirts)

For more on nouns and how to use articles in Romanian, go here and here.

Let’s chat up a few million Spaniards and have nice days

English: La Giralda at dusk, the tower of the ...

A nice place for a conversation: La Giralda at dusk, the tower of the Cathedral of Seville, as viewed from the Plaza Virgen de los Reyes in Seville, Spain. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Okay, so far we have chatted up the French and we have made acquaintance with Portuguese-speaking people in places such as Angola and Brazil as well as the mother country. My, we do get around. Now we are going to charm the pants off (it’s a metaphorical expression) those who speak Spanish, the most widely spoken of the Romance languages (see the item Five is a plucky number). And don’t forget, after this we still have to chat up the Italians and Romanians. We are embarking on what you might call a charm offensive. (To charm in Spanish is encantar, as it is in Portuguese, and obviously enchant is a related word. And if you said encantado – or encantada if you were a woman – in an exclamatory tone it is a way of saying pleased to meet you.)

So, where would we like to be chatting up the Spanish speakers? We could be in one of the big cities in Spain, such as Madrid, Barcelona or Seville, or in one of that country’s many lovely lesser known cities, such as Salamanca or Cáceres (see my travel piece on the latter here).

English: Early morning in wonderful Machu Picchu

Maravilloso: Early morning in wonderful Machu Picchu (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But you could just as easily be somewhere in South America. How great it would be to have a conversation at Machu Picchu in Peru, for example, or in Quito in Ecuador or Cartagena in Columbia, which I have heard are well worth a visit. Alas, the only parts of Spanish South America I have been to are Buenos Aires and nearby Tigre, where the great Paraná River forms a delta as it empties into the Rio de la Plata.  As for the reach of Spanish, there is Central America too, of course, and it is now an important language in the United States. If those places don’t take your fancy you could head to Cuba and other islands in the Caribbean. One thing is for sure, there are many exotic places where you can practise your Spanish.

Right, let’s get started (to begin is empezar or comenzar). When you first greet someone you say buenos días, buenas tardes or buenas noches – note that the Spanish are very generous and they do not wish you one good day, afternoon or night, they wish you many. Isn’t that wonderfully generous. You can see from the agreement of nouns and adjectives that día is a masculine word and that tarde and noche are feminine. More casually you could just say hola, hello

To ask how are you?, you would say cómo está? If you are unlucky the answer to this may be no me siento bien, meaning I don’t feel very well, but hopefully you will get muy bien, gracias. Y usted?, as in very well thanks, and you?.

Less formally, if you were chatting to a friend, you would say cómo estás? and the answer back would be muy bien, gracias. Y tú? See my explanation of which ‘you’ to use.

Bien is a key word which has many uses, most of them to do with wellness, but one of the more unexpected uses is bien … bien for either … or: for example, bien en coche bien en tren, either by car or by train. And bien can mean very, as in bien caliente, meaning very warm or hot.

Incidentally (a propósito), the word for morning is mañana, and you are probably familiar with the expression hasta mañana, meaning see you tomorrow (as in the sense of until tomorrow).

Some expressions that I hope you will use often are estar de buenas, to be in a good mood, and que pase un buen dia, have a nice day.

On that cheerful note, I shall leave you. Hasta prontosee you soon. 🙂

Here is ABBA‘s Spanish version of Hasta mañana

Spying on the haves and have nots in Portugal and Spain

Tamariz beach - Estoril

Tamariz beach – Estoril (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hola! Ola! That’s the Spanish and Portuguese respectively for hello.Today we are going to look at the various verbs meaning “to have” in both those languages. One thing I wouldn’t mind having is the mansion at the end of this beach in Estoril, one of the plusher suburbs on the outskirts of Lisbon, on the estuary of the River Tagus – or Tejo, to give it its proper name in Portuguese. There is a casino at Estoril, and one of its many famous guests was Ian Fleming during the second world war. Apparently there were lots of spies about, and that’s where he got the inspiration for his James Bond character and the novel Casino Royale. I’m sure if you were to visit Estoril you too would find something inspirational too. (There, I have written something to justify the use of this picture.)

Right, this post is the follow-up to the one looking at the verb “to have” in the other three of my five Romance languages (luckily I stopped at five, methinks). Unlike French, Italian and Romanian, both Spanish and Portuguese have two verbs meaning “to have”, just as they have two “to bes”. The Iberians like to have two of everything!

Let’s look at how they are conjugated in the present tense, starting with ter in Portuguese and tener in Spanish. Again, I will put the singular persons on the top line and the plurals underneath; in the third person the masculine form will precede the feminine.

Language:          first person         second person                   third person

Portuguese         eu tenho            tu tens, você tem               ele tem, ela tem

Portuguese        nós temos              vocês têm                     eles têm, elas têm

Among the useful things you can say with this verb are: tenho fome (literally, I have hunger which would be translated as I am hungry), tenho sede (I am thirsty), tenho frio (I am cold); tenho sono (I am sleepy), tenho um sonho (I have a dream), tenho vinte anos (I am 20 years old – which is a blatant lie coming from me), tenho dinheiro (I have money). In Portuguese to make the negative you put não before the verb: (eu) não tenho dinheiro, meaning I don’t have any money.

If you walk into a shop, once you have greeted the shopkeeper – it always helps to be polite – you could say in an inquisitive tone “tem…..”  it is like asking “do you have…” For example, Tem arroz? Do you have rice? Or if you really wanted a mansion like the one in the picture you could go into a real estate agent and say “Tem castelos?” (“Have you got any castles?“)

Tenho followed by de and an infinitive means I have to do something. For example, tenho de partir agora, I have to go now.

Note how, unlike in English or French, in Portuguese you don’t have to use the subject pronoun if it is clear from the verb ending which person is doing the action. For example, the eu in eu tenho razão (I am right) can be dropped and tenho razão will suffice. But if you used the third person version tem razão it could mean he is right or she is right, so it would be better to be specific and say ele tem razão if he is right, or ela tem razão if she is right.

And if it is an argument between a man and a woman, just remember the woman is always right!

Ok, let’s cross the border into Spain….

Language:     first person             second person                   third person

Spanish           yo tengo              tú tienes, usted tiene             él tiene, ella tiene

Spanish    nosotros/as tenemos      vosotros/as tenéis       ellos/ellas/ustedes tienen

The uses in Spanish are similar: tengo sed (i am thirsty), no tengo suficiente dinero (I don’t have enough money). The negative ‘no’ or ‘not’ in Spanish is no – that should be easy to remember.

Portuguese also has the verb haver (the present tense verb endings are: hei, hás, há, havemos, hão) and Spanish has haber (he, has, ha, hemos, habéis, han).

Here on YouTube is a pretty good explanation from the guys at about.com of its use and its pronunciation in Spanish.

And for Portuguese lessons with a dash of eccentricity and a view of Lisbon thrown in, you have to go to woltersworld on YouTube. It sounds like he has learned his Portuguese in Brazil. Here it is.

Hope to spy you on the beach at Estoril one day.

Cheers, Bernardo 🙂

Be a happy champion in 2013

Fireworks Over Sydney Harbor Bridge, Australia

Fireworks Over Sydney Harbor Bridge, Australia (Photo credit: DakotaPrarieNova)

Happy new year from me and My Five Romances in Sydney, Australia (hence the choice of pic). I hope you haven’t got a hangover – une gueule de bois if you are French, uma ressaca in Portuguese, una resaca if you are Spanish, postumi di una sbornia if you are Italian and o mahmureală if you have been imbibing too much in Romania.

So, how does one wish everyone a happy new year in my five Romance languages? The French might say Je vous souhaite une bonne année, the Portuguese Desejo a vocês um feliz ano novo, in Spanish you could try Les deseo un feliz año nuevo, the Italians might say Vi auguro un felice anno nuovo and the Romanians Iti doresc un an nou fericit. Or you could just use body language … grin a lot, pat everyone on the back, hug them, kiss them … body language can be a romance language too, you know 🙂

I have a hunch that 2013 will be a good year, better than its predecessors. It’s going to be great! I wanted to find an uplifting piece of music that would set the tone for the year ahead, and have opted for one by a Romanian band called Voltaj (yup, you guessed it, the Romanian word for “voltage“). Although it’s a stirring kind of anthem aimed specifically at Romanians, I like the sentiments – no more settling for second place, it’s time to step up to the winner’s podium, everyone can be a champion. The song is entitled MSD2 which, guessing by the translation of the lyrics, is short for mai sus de 2, or “above 2“.

This is taken from a YouTube posting by “SkadiSubs” and the lyrics in Romanian and English can also be found in the “info” section there. It’s very catchy, enjoy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6D4w9cQvXw

Being Italian … is your ego under control?

Italian Slushies

Italian Slushies (Photo credit: razvan.orendovici)

I have some fond memories of Italians in their native land, even though I don’t know much about them, apart from what one sees in the media and on film and so on. It has been a long time since I was in Italy. When I was nine my father took us on a great holiday, cruising on an Italian vessel, “M/V Africa”, from Beira in Mozambique round the Horn of Africa and up into the Mediterranean until we disembarked in Trieste. The ship, being part of the Lloyd Triestino Line (http://www.ssmaritime.com/lloyd-triestino-africa-europa.htm) was manned mostly by Italians and while on the journey I had my first crush as a child on one of the crew! But alas my feelings were not returned, haha. I was spurned for another twice or three times my age, can you believe it! 🙂

The only other time I was in Italy after that was another family holiday and this time I was in my mid-teens. On our last day, we had checked out of our hotel and were getting into a taxi when the hotel manager came running towards us. “Quick, quick, get in, hurry” my dad said, trying to bundle us into the cab and urging the driver to speed off for the airport. “He probably wants more money. Pretend not to notice him.” But it was too late. The manager caught up with us. “Your passports,” he said, waving them in the air. “You forgot your passports!” The moral of the story, I think, is to trust an Italian, and never trust my father :).

We have large Italian communities in Australia and it is always nice to go to the Italian districts for a coffee or gelato and to sample the atmosphere. If you are being a typical Italian male in Sydney then most probably you will drive down Norton Street in your souped up Alfa Romeo with a Tiziano Ferro song blazing at full blast on your sound system. As you drive along you will check out all the talent walking down the street and cast admiring glances at your own and your car’s reflection in the shop windows. 🙂 I was flicking through Lonely Planet’s Italian phrase book and it had a section on pick-up lines – Ti posso portare a fari un giro (in moto)Can I take you for a ride (on my bike) – and how to reject unwanted advances, my favourite one being Il tuo ego è fuori controlloYour ego is out of control.

So, down to business. The bad news is that Italian also has two “to be” verbs, essere and stare. According to the above mentioned phrase book, the former is generally used to describe ongoing characteristics (like ser in Spanish and Portuguese) and the latter describes temporary states or locations (like estar in Spanish and Portuguese). Here is how they are conjugated

Subject pronoun      essere / stare          English translation

io                                   sono / sto               I am

tu                                   sei / stai                   you are (informal)

Lei  (capitalised)            è / sta                     you are (formal)

lui / lei                             è / sta                     he / she / it is

noi                               siamo / stiamo          we are

voi                                siete / state               you are (plural)

loro                               sono / stanno            they are

See the posting from December 21, 2012 (Hey you! Which ‘you’ should you use?) and the replies for explanations on when to use tu and Lei. It is pretty much the same as in French, Portuguese and Spanish.

Now for some music. Who is Tiziano Ferro, you may ask? He is an Italian singer who has also sung in French, Spanish, Portuguese and English, so if you are interested in Romance languages you should investigate him (not sure about his Romanian repertoire, though). I first heard of him when I spotted his song Alucinado on MTV in Argentina, taken from the Spanish version of his debut album Rojo Relativo (the Italian version is Rosso Relativo, and the equivalent song title on it is Imbranato.) According to my dictionaries, alucinar is an intransitive Spanish verb meaning to hallucinate, but when used in the transitive it can mean to deceive or to fascinate. But imbranato in Italian is an adjective meaning clumsy or awkward, or as a noun a clumsy person. Rojo / rosso means red and I think the album title must be a play on “red hot” (rojovivo in Spanish), so I guess it means the more modest and self-effacing “relatively hot”. But I could be wrong. Anyway, here are the links to the songs in Italian, Spanish and French, and it is the chorus that is the making of the song, really, in my opinion.

http://www.musictory.com/music/Tiziano+Ferro/Imbranato+(French+Version)

Which do you prefer, the Italian, Spanish or French version …. is one language more musical than the other?

Here you will find the Italian lyrics with the English, Portuguese, Spanish and Romanian translations (among others) alongside:

http://lyricstranslate.com/en/imbranato-clumsy.html

In researching this I have just found out Tiziano recently revealed he is gay so maybe those macho Italian boys won’t be playing his music so loudly while cruising down Norton Street after all.

Ciao