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.

One thing people sometimes don’t realize is how important cultural products are to the understanding of a certain language; literature, cinema, tv and every other kind of pop culture ends up helping you enter the mindset of people who have been enjoying those products since birth.

You can see those differences by comparing the cultural references people have or share; for example, Brazilians have O Sítio do Picapau Amarelo while we have the works of Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen; perhaps most importantly, someone cultural references can be seen through the same cultural product, one that’s foreign to either party and therefore introduced differently in Portugal or Brazil.

Outside of the dubbing/subtitling debate, the cases where this happens the most are in titles of foreign movies/TV series imported to these markets. For example, Baywatch (see, this aside was leading to a connection with the article after all) is known in Portugal as Marés Vivas (lit. spring tides, the term used for the highest tides of a lunar cycle, hapenning twice a month), while in Brazil it is know as SOS Malibu (pretty self-explanatory).

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

  1. João Duarte July 16, 2016 / 11:32 pm

    “Five lifeguards getting ready to run in slow motion on a Californian beach.” Indeed :D
    I lost count how many times I played Jimi Jamison’s I’ll Be Ready piano solo on my “air piano”. :)

    Liked by 1 person

    • luisdomingos July 17, 2016 / 1:27 pm

      Yeah, that really says a lot about its popularity around these shores throughout the 90s! (despite how ludicrous some of the storylines were haha) :D

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Danmoller July 20, 2016 / 1:09 pm

    I’ve heard “banheiro” is an option, is that true? (In Brazil it would mean “bathroom”)


    • luisdomingos July 20, 2016 / 2:01 pm

      Hi, Dan! How’s it going? I hope all is well with you over there in Brazil and that things are running smoothly with Duolingo (I’m sorry if my occasional ventures into the forums are a bit of a hassle – they’re unabashedly attempts to bring more people over here, but I don’t think I’m stealing much of your clientele with this humble blog).

      Regarding your question, “banheiro” does seem to be an option (I’ve checked two EP online dictionaries and two physical, hardback dictionaries I have lying around), but it’s not one I was personally acquainted with; hopefully other EP speakers can clarify if its a regionalism of some kind (:

      In any case, all those entries end up by equating the profession with the more common “nadador-salvador” (for example, see http://www.priberam.pt/dlpo/banheiro), so the latter’s always the safest word to use.

      Um abraço de Portugal para o Brasil!

      P.S. Unlike banheiro, the word [o/a] banhista is quite common to refer to beachgoers, which apparently is one of your words for lifeguard (http://www.priberam.pt/dlpo/banhista); the twisted links Portuguese manages to make around itself will never cease to amaze me!


    • João Duarte July 21, 2016 / 12:59 am

      My wife (from Braga) tells me that a “banheiro” is a person that rents beach huts and other materials, or is the owner of a beach restaurant or something like that. Of course, regionalisms are sometimes quite different from region to region. I’m from Ribatejo and lived most of my life in the Lisbon area; in both these places I’ve never heard the word “banheiro” except as a Brazilian Portuguese word… The truth is that some of these words are dying.

      I don’t normally lose my cool when I see a word dying; it’s natural selection… :)

      Liked by 1 person

      • luisdomingos July 21, 2016 / 11:47 pm

        Thanks for bringing us some regional insight into this issue, João!

        I too have lived in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area my whole life and I’d never heard “banheiro” being used this way, but it’s always interesting to find differences between dialects of EP that are not that well-known.

        Liked by 1 person

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