EP words of the week (#55): imperial / fino

Summer temperatures call for cold beverages, and beer ([a] cerveja) is a perennial favourite thirst-quencher among many, many people (myself included). When outside (at bars, restaurants, or tascas), one can always order draft beer to help cool your body.

We like it so much we even have two different names for that kind of beer, taken directly from the tap (or keg) and commonly served in tall glasses (like the one you see below): [a] imperial in the South (including Lisbon) and [o] fino in the North (including Porto and, as far as I can tell, all the way down to Coimbra).

In Brazil, the word used is [o] chope.


P.S. Due to time constraints on my part, Words of the Week will become a weekly feature. New words will come out every Wednesday at 15:00 (3 pm) UTC.

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Grammar Tips (#19): The Dance of Adjectives (or the before and after conundrum of adjective placement)

Adjective placement can be a tricky issue for many Portuguese learners; English speakers are generally used to finding adjectives before their referent nouns, but Portuguese works in reverse: the norm is to have adjectives follow nouns, with the exceptions being borne out of either poetic license or to capture a figurative meaning of a given adjective.

Hopefully the following rules will help clear out these issues for you!

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EP word of the week (#54): folhado de salsicha

There are a variety of snacks who are sold at tascas and snack bars; some of them are savoury, others sweet.

In Portugal, we’re quite fond of [o] folhado de salsicha, which is the local term for pigs in blankets/pigs in a blanket[o] folhado is the noun used for any bite-sized snack made out of puff pastry ([a] massa folhada), while [a] salsicha is the Portuguese word for sausage.

In Brazil, these savoury treats are called [o] enrolado de salsicha (sausage roll).


Notice again how the attributive/partitive noun doesn’t have any definiteness; when we say something is made of something else, that last noun doesn’t carry an article (meaning it’s preceded by de, not do or da):

  • Ontem comi um folhado de salsicha. I ate a pig in a blanket yesterday.
  • Ontem fiz um folhado da salsicha que tinha sobrado do jantar. Yesterday, I made/baked a pig in a blanket from/out of the sausage left over from dinner.

In this second sentence, the referent to the pastry is just [o] folhado (with the information about its content – de salsicha – being implied by the rest of the information); da salsicha… is an instrumental object (answers the question with what? from/out of what?), which is defining either one specific [or single] sausage you used, or a specific batch of sausages¹. In any case, here da (de+a) would probably have been written/said with com [with] to avoid confusion.

¹ Using salsicha in the singular for a group is less common – since it would effectively turn sausage into an uncountable noun – but that’s always a possibility when talking about meals or foodstuffs in bulk or generic terms – for example:

  • O bacalhau estava muito bom. The cod [i.e. the portion that I ate] was really good/tasty.

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EP word of the week (#53): tasca

In Portugal, a big part of a shared summer experience is done around food and drinks; our renowned cuisine meeting a variety of cold drinks to help everyone ease through the hot days.

[As] tascas are small restaurants selling traditional food for lunches and dinners together with snacks and beverages. They’re usually laid back places with an informal atmosphere – what you gain in relaxation and you may lose in sometimes poor or at least sloppy costumer service (not as a rule, but it happens sometimes, just like in any upscale/uptight place).

Here’s a typical menu of a Portuguese restaurant (not necessarily a tasca):


As you can tell from the photo above, restaurants and tascas are also a good place to see butchered Portuguese spellings (: Here, the errors are the following:

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EP word of the week (#52): nadador[a]-salvador[a]

Keeping the beach theme we’ve got going on, today I chose a word that’s always important to learn: [o/a] nadador[a]-salvador[a], which is the EP word for lifeguard; if the brackets are confusing, let me explain them: the lemma (uninflected) form of the noun is the masculine [o] nadador-salvador; since this compound word is formed using two nouns (for swimmer and savior/rescuer, respectively), both parts are inflected when we change the noun to the feminine and the plural:

  • [a] nadadora-salvadora (female lifeguard)
  • [os] nadadores-salvadores (group of all-male lifeguards, a mixed group, or generic plural)
  • [as] nadadoras-salvadoras (group of female lifeguards)

We also use a second word for lifeguard[o/a] salva-vidas (lit. saves-lives), which can also be used in reference to lifeboats (only in the masculine, since it’s a shortening of [o] barco/bote salva-vidas; lifeboat), and can be used as an adjective as well (see previous set of brackets, another example of this usage is [o] colete salva-vidaslifejacket).

As we saw with [o] guarda-chuva and [o] afia-lápis, verbs are not inflected when parts of compound words; in this case, since this noun is formed by a verb form and a noun already in the plural, it suffers no inflection whatsoever; gender and number are marked using articles only:

  • [o] salva-vidas (male lifeguard or lifeboat)
  • [a] salva-vidas (female lifeguard)
  • [os] salva-vidas (group of all-male lifeguards, a mixed group, or generic plural)
  • [as] salva-vidas (group of female lifeguards)
Cinco nadadores-salvadores a prepararem-se para correr em câmara lenta numa praia californiana. Five lifeguards getting ready to run in slow motion on a Californian beach.

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EP word of the week (#51): alforreca

If you spend some time in Portuguese beaches this summer, you’ll probably run into a few stock characters: people doing regular beach stuff (swimming, getting a tan and enjoying the sun, playing football, volleyball, or beach paddleball); people doing unusual beach stuff, and the usual animals you’d find in this area, like seagulls, bivalves, and jellyfish washed ashore.

In Portugal, a single jellyfish is called [a] alforreca, while in Brasil they’re called [a] água-viva. Both variants share a name in common, [a] medusa, which can be used for the common jellyfish you see on the shore or any other member of the jellyfish family with long, lean limbs (the name itself is a reference to the snake-tentacled head of Medusa from Greek mythology).

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EP words of the week (#50): Vénus / Úrano / Neptuno

As promissed last Wednesday, today’s Word of the Week focuses on the “wanderers” of the sky, the planets of our solar system!

Of the eight (formerly nine) recognized planets, only three have different spelling between EP and BP, respectively: VénusVênusÚrano / UranoNeptuno / Netuno. Since the names aren’t radically different from their Latin (and English) counterparts, I don’t believe I need to match them for you to understand what planets I’m talking about (:

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EP word of the week (#49): Andrómeda (e outras constelações)

Stargazing is one of my absolute favourite pastimes: it combines a wealthy mix of being in contact in nature, quiet introspectiveness, the need for a keen eye and observation skills, and an interesting historical/mythological background that I always found interesting – basically how humans always seem keen to put meaning into everything, even random star shapes, and makes stories about them. All in all, I always found peace when looking at the wonders of the sky (usually, but not necessarily, at night), and it’s an activity that still gives me pleasure whenever I have a chance to do it.

Portugal has some of the best skies for this kind of activity – there are even specialized tours to relatively remote locations where you’re able to see the sky free from the light and air pollution of the big cities, so it’s always important to know your constellations and planets if you’re an aficionado!

A constelação Andrómeda. The constellation Andromeda.

Today’s post will follow the same pattern as the one I’ve written last May about chemical elements; I’ll list all 88 modern constellations sequentially (in alphabetical order, based on their official names (as established by the International Astronomical Union, IAU) and their EP and BP translations. A post about planets will follow on Saturday!

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EP Music Mondays (#8): Marko i Blacky Orkestar

In what will be the last installment of EP Music Mondays for the foreseable future (various time constraints and my tighter focus on my ongoing job search leave me no opportunity to give this segment the care and research it requires), I’ve decided to follow up on the previous post about Melech Mechaya and give you a taste of more Balkan-inspired music coming from the Iberian Peninsula!

As it stands, this post also works as a personal thank-you to one of my most active and supportive followers: I’m talking about João Duarte, who is a founding member and percussionist of Marko i Blacky Orkestar (named, I assume, after the main characters of Emir Kusturica’s 1995 film Underground, winner of that year’s Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival), with orkestar being the South Slavic word for orchestra.

The band’s bread and butter is a welcome fusion of Portuguese and Balkan folk traditions; at a time when people seem to be growing more and more disillusioned with their lives and the future, it’s good to surround yourself with celebratory, fun music (and no one can accuse the Balkan countries of not knowing what hardship is – just ask the protagonists of Underground). I hope you like it as much as I do!

João kindly provided me with two Youtube clips to share with you so that you can sample his/their music! I’ll post them after the jump; you can also follow their work and watch more clips at their official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MarkoBlacky2012/ 

P.S. Thank you for your readership – it was never as strong or as vocal vs. other segments of the website, but I’ve appreciated writing these music articles while I could. And don’t forget to keep looking for Portuguese music – finding your favourite artist might just be one of the best ways to keep connected to the country and to the language you’re learning.

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EP word of the week (#48): barbatana

Today, we’re heading out to sea (or a lake, or your local swimming pool) to cool off and swim. Portuguese people are known for their attachment to the sea and all its products (to the point of cliché, really); Portugal has one of the world’s highest per capita seafood consumption rates, and the sea still fascinates a good share of its population.

Today’s word of the week is [a] barbatana, which is the EP word for both flipper (swimfin) and animal fin (both fish and marine mammalian). A pair of the former can be may also be referred to as [os] pés de pato (lit. “duck’s feet”, since their shape resembles a duck’s feet and mimic their swimming ability), which is also the word used in Brazil to name them.

If you want to specify you’re talking about swimfins and not any other kind of fins, you can also add the adjectival complements de mergulho (diving) ou de natação (swimming) to the noun [a] barbatana.

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