EP word of the week (#42): BE (e outras siglas políticas)

When applying for approval of its electoral candidacy to the Portuguese Constitutional Court ([o] Tribunal Constitucional), political parties are asked to provide certain symbols that can make them recognizable to the general population. Of those, their acronyms and party symbols are the most important, since they serve as spoken/written and visual ways, respectively, that allow them to establish a special identity with voters – especially in multiparty democracy where the number of parties is numerous.

Portuguese calls initialisms (“a set of initials representing a name, organization, or the like, witheach letter pronounced separately”, source) [as] siglas (sing. [a] sigla), with true acronyms (which form vowels) being called [os] acrónimos (sing. [o] acrónimo). In common parlance, all are called siglas, the rule of least effort working again in favor of the shortest possible word!

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Grammar Tips (#13): Turning English words into Portuguese (4): Spelling changes cheat sheet

In this fourth and final installment of this guide into the connections between some English words (mainly borrowings from Latin and Greek) and their Portuguese counterparts, I’ll use some tables to show the spelling changes between both languages that can be readily be applied when you start thinking in Portuguese (a few of which I’ve already talked about in a previous post about h).

Since I’ve already dealt with Greek and Latin suffixes in the previous article, this post will serve to showcase just letter/digraph relationships in root words or prefixes.

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EP word of the week (#41): canalizador/a

If you’re in need of a plumber, that’s usually a bad sign – both for your house, and your wallet! No dig at plumbers intended – the work they do is obviously very valuable to us as a society. Also, without plumbers we wouldn’t have Super Mario Bros. (because only a plumber would know how to drop out of a gigantic tube/pipe without breaking this entire skeleton to pieces, right?), and that’s another big win for humanity. If that sounded snarky, it wasn’t supposed to – I actually do love Mario games (:

In EP, we call plumbers [o/a] canalizador/a. In Brazil, they’re commonly known as [o/a] encanador/a, or even [o/a] bombeiro/a; this one is quite confusing to me since that’s the exact same word as the one we used to call a firefighter over here and, well, that’s also true in Brazil! To make the distinction clearer, BP uses the longer term [o/a] bombeiro/a hidráulico/a, which specifically refers to plumbers.

In Portugal, however, only [o/a] canalizador/a will do, and that’s why it is today’s Word of the Week!

O Mário é canalizador (e herói nas horas vagas). Mario is a plumber (and a hero in his spare time).

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Grammar Tips (#12): Turning English words into Portuguese (3): Greek and Latin suffixes

Like English, Portuguese inherited several (mainly technical/scientific) words directly from Greek or Latin, which have associated meanings for both their root words and suffixes. This specific post serves as a way to enlight the meanings behind suffixes and to make connections between said suffixes and the gender of the Portuguese words.

The final post in this series of four will bring the information from the three preceding posts into a unified post, mainly through a table with the letter/affix relationships between the two languages.

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EP word of the week (#40): afia-lápis

If you have pencils, then it’s certain you’ll need pencil sharpeners. In Portugal, these are known as [o] afia-lápis (informally just [o] afia) or [o] apara-lápis (or [o] aparador).

These words are interesting because they’re compound nouns, that is, they’re formed from different words or radicals that find new meaning (another good example is [o] chapéu-de-chuva, one of the first words I covered for this segment). In this case, afia and apara are verb forms (afiar means “to sharpen”; aparar means “to trim, to sharpen a pencil, to smooth out a surface”), and [o] lápis means pencil.

The noun for shaving (the pieces/ribbons of wood sliced from the pencil during the sharpening process) is [a] apara (usually used in the plural, [as] aparas).

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Grammar Tips (#10): Turning English words into Portuguese (1): nouns

Learning a language – especially when it comes to vocabulary – is usually a long game: you learn new words and expressions as you move along in your learning journey, but by necessity these have to be doled out so as not to cause your brain to enter critical overload…

But, what if there was a way to magically turn some words from a language to another and establish rules that can be replicated with that set of words to ease your way into that language? As it turns out, that’s a possible route from English to Portuguese, since many English nouns and adjectives borrowed from Latin (via French) have obvious connections to the Portuguese equivalents.

Important note: There are quite a few cases where these rules don’t apply (due to different nouns being used between languages for the same idea, or different endings applying). This series of posts doesn’t deal with those cases, which should be learned separately.

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EP word of the week (#39): agrafador

The differences between EP and BP are quite pervasive, especially when you realize that most of them come from too-mundane things you use a lot but don’t usually thing much about, that is, unless you’re forced to recognize them when faced with that dissonance between your experience and that of others (I made this same point a week ago when talking about [a/o] esferovite).

Consider office supplies; they’re so commonplace that you probably don’t really think about them all that much – they just are what they are. To me, the idea of a stapler was always intrinsically associated with the word [o] agrafador, and the idea that Brazilians may have a different term for it never really crossed by mind (being somewhat exposed to a few Brazilian cultural products/exports can lull you into a false sense of security when it comes to knowing the main vocabulary differences between the two variants). As it turns out, they do! In Brazil, the word used is [o] grampeador.


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