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.

Phonetically, at least in the area around Lisbon there’s a closing of the vowel on the first (unstressed) syllable (li); we pronounce these unstressed Is (coming before a second, stressed vowel with i) closer to the sound of unstressed Es (that is, with the mouth slightly more open and with less rounding of the lips); like all unstressed E sounds, the entire vowel sound can be clipped from the word when speaking fast.

Another interesting example is Filipe, which is sometimes pronounced (and written) as Felipe. Here, the unstressed syllable is Fi (=Fe), with li being the stressed counterpart. I should know, since Filipe is my middle name, but I always pronounce it Felipe (or, when speaking fast, Flip)!

2 thoughts on “EP word of the week (#99): lixívia

  1. João Duarte May 11, 2017 / 10:10 am

    I bet that second name of yours came in handy for your parents to yell it out when you did something wrong, am I right?

    At least where I’m from, parent always use 2 first names combined to call angrily like “JOÃO CARLOOOOS!!!!” :D

    It doesn’t get more portuguese than that!


    • luisdomingos May 11, 2017 / 6:02 pm

      Hahaha! I know the feeling – it wouldn’t be the same if your second name weren’t used when in angry mode! :D That’s when you know it’s serious!


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