Category Archives: Info

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A Few Words About Portuguese

Reading It is the Easy Part
Reading It is the Easy Part

When I was about seven, I think, my sister came up one day and said “uno y uno son dos.” She was studying Spanish, and decided, rightly so I imagine, that teaching somebody else was a great way to learn. I’ve been able to stumble badly in Spanish for years. Lately I’ve even been able to have some rudimentary conversations about normal topics (no “Norte America es un continente” for me bro!) Looking at the Portuguese carved into the Cabo da Roca monument, you’d think that it was a lot like Spanish. Well, you’d be wrong.

They’re both Romance languages. And some words are the same as they are in Spanish. Some look the same but aren’t, and some aren’t even close. Take chicken, for instance. The cooked kind. It’s “carne do frago.” What the heck is a frago? In old Iberian Celtic, it’s a chicken. Try asking for “carne do frago,” heck call it “de frago” in Spanish and all you’ll get is a blank look. ‘Cause, yeah, what the heck is a frago?

Pronunciation is very different as well. Take the word “banana.” in Spanish it’s “una banana” or “un banano.” Yes, banano. Dunno why. And “banana” is all long ah sounds, too. In Portuguese, it is “uma banana.” Go ahead and say that, just like you think it would sound if you saw that phrase lying around. You said “banana” like it was English, didn’t you? You know you did. And, here’s the thing, you were correct! Since almost forever, Portugal and Britain (first England) have been allies through thick and thin. After all, their chief rivals back in the days of good old imperialistic expansion were Spain and France. Oooo, they hated those guys! And I think that a lot of English habits rubbed off on the Portuguese. (I know that tea, as enjoyed traditionally in England, came from Portugal, so why not things going the other way?) Not only bananas, but other habits of pronunciation occur in both English and Portuguese. For example, Portuguese has a lot of susurration in it (look it up) and they leave off the sound of many final syllables. Here’s an example of a word that illustrates several of my points. I refer to the word, “pronto.”

Hey, you know that word! It means quickly, right? Uh, sure, in Spanish, and all you have to do is make both of those ‘o’s sound long and you’ve got it. We use it in English, at least in America, where we pronounce it like it was English, sort of like “prahnto.” Get it? Two things about that word in Portuguese. It doesn’t mean “quickly,” and it’s pronounced like the American version, less the final syllable. You know our word font? Sure, so you can pronounce pront, which is how a Portuguese pronounces the word “pronto,” which means “ready.” “Tens pronto?” Means “are you ready?” Tens, the word for “you are” if “you” is a friend, is pronounced, oh, heck, how do you think? You got all this? Tens pronto? Good.

Portuguese isn’t a difficult language, despite what people say. The verbs follow mostly Spanish conventions and the nouns mostly follow the French way of syntax. It is it’s own language, and that’s all. It seems to me that Portugal gets short shrift when Americans think of Europe. It’s really a very nice country. The least foreign feeling foreign country I’ve ever visited, and I include Canada. That may be good or bad, but it’s the case either way.

Okay, then, I think it’s time to get back to our travelogue, don’t you?

Adeus!

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Goodbye to Bob Katt

This, from 2007:

MEET BOB KATT

Bob_Katt_small

Yo, Bob Katt here. I’m the latest addition to the household. Don’t be mistaken: I ain’t no Big Pussy. Nobody’s ever gonna dump me off of a boat and you can take that to the bank. If you want to see a bigger picture of my face, just click that little picture up top of the page. Be prepared to be awed by my visage. You been warned, human! [This no longer works.]

I’m not alone around here, unfortunately. There’s entirely too much competition for those food gathering oafs’ attention so far as I can see. Maybe I’ll do something about that some day. It ain’t like I gotta do anything alone: I got an enforcer name of Jabba the Hairball. Hey, you never heard of Paulie Walnuts? And you’re talkin’ like Jabba the Hairball can’t be much of name for an enforcer, aren’t you? Well, let me tell you, before I came along there was another cat here, still is here in fact, name of Elvira. She got hurt by some neighborhood stray and almost died. Jabba the Hairball it was which went after that stray and gave him a lesson he’ll never forget. Dead cats don’t forget nothin’, right? As soon as I can get one of these lazy humans around here off it’s fat butt I’ll get you a picture of my man Jabba. He’s got at least twenty-four toes, does Jabba. No kiddin’.

So anyway that dumb pink slob forgot and left his computer unlocked so I’m puttin’ up my own web page. I’m gonna slip this onto his blog too. That’ll teach him to be late with the food in the morning!

Later,

Bob

PS — I may post more stuff here and on his blog. Check back once in a while. Hey, you never know, right?

The purported author of that post died yesterday in the presence of his loving humans. He’d already lost a leg to cancer, causing me to call him “my favorite tripod.” Suddenly he couldn’t breathe without difficulty, so we took him to the vet. He had a huge tumor pressing on his lungs, and was looking forward to nothing but a short, miserable life. Damn but I hate this stuff! In any event, I, who he thought of as his mother, was scratching his ears and he was purring when the sedative was administered. Shortly after, he was relieved of all suffering. I’ll miss that cat, and that’s the truth!

Top o’ the Week to Ye

shamrock

On the day this post is released, I’m on my way to Dublin. Thence on to Lisbon for five days, then back to Dubllin. Which is by way of saying that there will be no post at all next week. And maybe not much of one this week, but you be the judge.

We held a successful garage sale over the weekend. Made well over $300. $400 if the guy shows up to buy the pool table who said he’d do that. This is the beginning of phase one of unburdening ourselves of stuff, so that we might retire to a far away land (in Europe) in five to ten years. The nice thing about being a writer is that you can do that activity from virtually anywhere. (People have published books from prison.) Our trip to Portugal is primarily to investigate whether we’d like to move there when the time comes. In preparation, I have learned at least six or seven words of Portuguese. Know something odd? Portuguese has, apparently, interacted with English at some point in history. Want to say ‘banana’ in that language. The article is uma (’cause banana is feminine) but the word ‘banana’ is pronounced just like any hick American would pronounce it. As a student of language, I find this fascinating. Also, the most commonly used article meaning “of,” de, is pronounced dee or just d(schwa). Odd stuff, language, and those Lusitanians are apparently just crazy about theirs.

So, anyway, don’t look for a post next week, although if the opportunity arises I’ll post something. But do check my Facebook feed, if you follow it, because I’m sure I’ll find some pictures to put out there.

And, if you follow me, thank you and obrigado.

O prazer é meu!

Spring

The Bunker Hill Monument. The battle wasn't fought here, but the name sticks anyway.
The Bunker Hill Monument. The battle wasn’t fought here, but the name sticks anyway.

The picture above was taken in the Spring. That’s how it goes back where I grew up. Here in the desert, no so much, I think it hit ninety degrees yesterday. Hot stuff!

A short post just to say that I’m thinking of trying to write a picture book. My wife, of course, thinks that because I’m good with doggerel it would be easy. Actually, it’s just shy of being actual poetry. Sort of a novel in haiku if you will. But, it should be interesting. As a start, I’m going to read a mess of picture books to see what’s hot these days. Heck, if Pence’s pet rabbit can get a book (two if you count the parody from John Oliver) maybe there’s hope.

No other news. No advice. Enjoy your Spring!

MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY NEW YEAR

A tree in our front yard in Arapaho County, Colorado sometime in 2002.
A tree in our front yard in Arapaho County, Colorado sometime in 2002.

Stuff the advice this week. It’s Christmas! Okay, I know that not everybody celebrates that particular holiday. And that “War on Christmas” stuff is just one more way that Fox News is crazy making. But, we do have a secular holiday by that name in this country, and next Monday is it for 2017. So, We Wish You A Merry Christmas for sure! And,

Good Kwaanza,
Chappy Chanukkah,
Good Mithra’s Day,
Ho Saturnalia,
And A Happy and Prosperous New Year!

And, one more for those War on Christmas weirdos:
HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!

Steve