EP word of the week (#106): quina

Hello, everyone!

To finish this month’s words of the week, which were all related either to Portuguese grammar or Portuguese history and symbols, I bring you another word that’s culturally significant to Portugal and the Portuguese: I’m talking about [a] quina, which was a general meaning of “set of five equal (or similar items)” [from Latin quina, “five at a time, five each”], but is also used to mean [1]:

  1. For any playing card, domino piece or rolling dice with 5 in it;
  2. A series of five numbers in an horizontal line in lotto games;
  3. More importantly, the 5 blue-and-white escutcheons present in the shield of the Portuguese flag, which give it the name of [a] bandeira das Quinas.

Each of the five escutcheons has a five X-dot pattern in it, which serves as a double reminder of their name; while the flag of Portugal in its current form was only adopted in 1911, the escutcheons have been a part of Portuguese flags ever since the founding of the country in the 11th century (as you can see in the Wikipedia page of the flag). They’re traditionally meant to symbolize the 5 Moorish kings that our first monarch, D. Afonso Henriques, defeated on the Battle of Ourique (1139), but said Wikipedia article explains that they came to be in a much more interesting and mundane fashion related to worn-out flags and nail marks; you should definitely take some time to read it and learn more about it (and with it, our history) !

Portuguese shield – 7 castles and 5 escutcheons (“Castelos e Quinas”).

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EP word of the week (#105) / Grammar Tips (#21): [o] conjuntivo, the subjunctive mood

Continuing a thread started last Wednesday with vosso and on Sunday with A Portuguesa (the Portuguese national anthem), today’s Word of the Week will showcase another interesting and relevant EP-specific word, this time returning to Portuguese grammar.

This time, we’re talking about [o] (modo) conjuntivo, the EP word for the subjunctive (mood). As you’re probably aware by now, Portuguese has three distinct grammatical moods which clarify the intent of a given verb form: the indicative – [o] indicativo (expressing fact), the imperative – [o] imperativo (expressing a command) and the subjunctive – [o] conjuntivo (expressing a hope, a wish, a desire, a doubt, or a possibility, in relative clauses and if clauses). In Brazilian Portuguese, the word for subjunctive is [o] (modo) subjuntivo, similar to the term used in English, French, Spanish, German and other languages.

Click on the link below for a general explanation of the subjunctive and some tricks to figure out their tense endings, which doubles as a Grammar Tips lesson!

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EP word of the week (#104): A Portuguesa

Last Saturday (June 10th) we celebrated a national annual holiday in Portugal – it’s a very special day since it commemorates the death of Luís de Camões, one of Portugal’s greatest poets and writer of the sixteenth century national epic poem Os Lusíadas (published in 1572), about the role of the Portuguese during the Discoveries (Os Descobrimentos) enmeshed with stories of Portuguese history up until that point. Students in the 9th and 12th grades/forms (ages 14-15 and 17-18, respectively) are obliged to read and study the test for their Portuguese language curricula, which makes it a very important and respected book.

So, June 10th is known as [o] Dia de Camões (Camões’ day), but the holiday celebrates the country as a whole, the Portuguese language and Portuguese communities all over the world: its full name is [o] Dia de Portugal, de Camões e das Comunidades Portuguesas.

Another important symbol of Portugal as an independent country is its national anthem – [o] hino nacional – ours is called A Portuguesa; the title is feminine because it’s implied that we’re talking about a song¹, since the word for song is feminine (a canção), therefore we get A [canção] portuguesa.

Sheet music for A Portuguesa. Pauta d’ A Portuguesa.

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EP word of the week (#103): vosso

Hey, everyone!

Today’s Word of the week is a possessive pronoun: our plural your; despite using vocês as a personal pronoun, European Portuguese uses vosso/vossa/vossos/vossas (which originates from vós), as a possessive!

This means that if something is owned by a plural you, you’ll probably call it by this pronoun:

  • O carro é vosso. The car is yours (addressing more than one person as the owners).
  • A vossa casa é bonita. Your house is pretty.

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