EP word of the week (#102): terra batida

This week marked the start of the 2017 French Open, a very important tennis competition – one of the 4 Grand Slams of the sport -, also commonly known as Roland Garros (the name of the sports complex in Paris where all the matches take place).

As all tennis aficionados know, the French Open is only Grand Slam played on clay, one of the major surfaces in the sport. The second Grand Slam of the year is preceded by a long tour of different, lesser clay court tournaments, with it being seen as the culmination of the Spring clay court season (there are two smallest groups of clay court tournaments in the winter and in the summer, but in the spring is where the important tournaments take place).

In Portugal, the name we use for this surface (the setting where the game takes place) – clay in the contest of tennis – is [a] terra batida, a calque from French [la] terre battue. Both names allude to the ground, crushed rock (shale, stone or brick, with helps give it its common red colouring – there are some tournaments with green clay, though). Therefore, a clay court will usually be called [o] court de terra batida in the media and by professionals.

Rafael Nadal, conhecido como “o Rei da Terra Batida” pelo seu domínio nesta superfície, a jogar num court de terra batida. Rafael Nadal, known as “the King of Clay” for his dominance in the surface, playing in a clay court.

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Introducing Your Very Own EP Experience!

Hello, everyone! I hope you’re having a great week! (:

As an effort to make the blog more interactive and lively, I’d love to give all of my readers an opportunity to be a part of the blog!

Hence the idea of creating a section of the blog where you can share your experiences with Portuguese learning and Portuguese culture; you could write blog entries about your language learning progress, a certain aspect of Portuguese culture/language you find interesting or about a recent or not so recent trip to Portugal you might want to share with everyone: as long as you write it respectfully (even criticism), my only job will be to proofread and host your stories. If you have your own WordPress account, I can add you as featured writers on the blog! (:

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EP word of the week (#101): lavandaria

A few weeks ago we discussed the different ways of saying clothes’ iron in Portuguese; this time, we’ll talk about the various Portuguese words for laundrette / laundromat, that is, a place with facilities to wash, dry and iron clothes, either a room in someone’s house or a business created for that effect (in the latter, both on a self-service basis or with the help of professionals).

In Portugal, the most common word for such a place/business is [a] lavandaria; Brazilians usually prefer the term [a] lavanderia or [a] tinturaria. In Portugal and European Portuguese, [a] tinturaria is specifically a business dealing with fabric colouring, i.e. of dyeing as an industrial activity.

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Ask Luís! (#14): Difference between “por si só[s]” / “por si próprio[s]”

Hello, everyone!

Here’s yet another interesting question for all of you from Yuliya:

Olá, Luís!

Sou eu, a tua perguntadora assídua.

Não consigo entender a diferença entre “por si sós”, “por si só” e “por si próprios”.

Em alguns casos “por si sós” = “por si próprios”, não é?

Mas, de acordo com Ciberdúvidas, há um caso quando só «por si só» pode ser usado: “No entanto, é de uso generalizado em Portugal a expressão «por si só» — ou «só por si» — como locução adverbial, com o sentido de isoladamente, e, neste caso, invariável.”

Pode dar-me um exemplo deste uso? E também qual expressão tenho de usar nesta frase: “As bebidas alcoólicas por si só não são prejudicadoras. É a quantidade de consumo que importa.”? Ou “As bebidas alcoólicas por si sós não são prejudicadoras. É a quantidade de consumo que importa.”? Ou “As bebidas alcoólicas por si próprias não são prejudicadoras. É a quantidade de consumo que importa.”?

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Ask Luís! (#13): Stress and vowel height changes in different verb forms

Hello, everyone! Today I bring you a question about sound changes and stress patterns in verb forms. A quite pertinent question, something that we usually just take for granted but that can be hard for someone to learn. Here’s the question:

Olá Luís,
Gosto muito do seu blog!!
Há umas regras gerais sobre como pronunciar os vogais nas palavras como ‘meter’ e ‘ganhar’ etc que não mudam no processo de inflexão?
Por exemplo, metem, mete, meto, e metam (de Conjuntivo), e ganhava, ganho, ganham, e ganhe, ganhem (de Conjuntivo), etc. São muitas diferenças entre EP e BP?
Obrigado pela ajuda!


Follow me after the jump to learn more about this!

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EP word of the week (#100): pirilampo

It has been a long road to get here – almost 16 months – but it feels amazing to present to you the 100th EP word of the week!

Today, we go into the animal kingdom for a lesson of comparative entomology: different words for firefly in Portuguese! In Portugal, the most common word for this beautiful, bioluminescent insect is [o] pirilampo; in Brazil, you’ll hear more the word [o] vaga-lume; but the other may be used in regionalisms (that is, pirilampo in Brazil and vaga-lume in Portugal). Another interesting regionalism is [o] luze-cu, which literally means “shine-ass/arse” or “shiny ass“, a funny reference as to how light seems to come from fireflies’ backsides :)

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EP word of the week (#99): lixívia

Cleaning supplies have similar usages in different places, but that doesn’t make them impervious to changes in terminology (that’s the whole point of translation, really; to find similar ideas in languages that describe things differently).

Today, our word of the week is the EP term for bleach, the chemical solution used to whiten fabrics and commonly sold as such. That word is [a] lixívia, sometimes also called [a] barrela (which was the old-fashioned way of bleaching clothes, using hot water and wood ash, charcoal or soda for bleaching purposes). In Brazil, it’s commonly known as [a] água sanitária (cleaning water, lit. sanitation water), or through various other terms depending on region or on the brand used; for example, it is known clorofina in the southernmost Brazilian states, taking the name of a conglomerate that makes business selling cleaning supplies in the area for over 60 years.

Lixívia com detergente, marca Continente.

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EP word of the week (#98): ferro de engomar

When you’re learning a foreign language, you develop an almost instinctive desire to know words for different objects, especially those you use on your daily life. Have you ever wondered what’s the European Portuguese word for clothes’ iron? If your answer was yes, then your quest (provided you didn’t remember checking it in a dictionary) is over!

In Portugal, our most common word for the iron is [o] ferro de engomar; [o] ferro means iron (the mineral, just like in English) and engomar is the verb, to iron. It’s actually a quite interesting formulation since the verb refers to [a] goma, the starch used in the ironing process to stiffen parts of the fabric. Nowadays that’s not so common anymore (and some irons allow you to go both processes at once), so it’s used only in the sense of ironing.

In Brazil, the most common term is [o] ferro de passar. You’d probably hear this in Portugal too, but since we also say passar a ferro as a synonym of engomar (even more so the former than the latter, I suppose), it would sound a bit redundant ([o] ferro de passar a ferro) – to my ears at least.


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