viva a revolução!

today is revolution day in portugal. in honor of the day, the department of spanish and portuguese showed a movie, from portuguese (and in portuguese, no subtitles!), about the revolution.

i guess there are a few distinctions i must make before i tell you about the movie. just as ‘spanish’ doesn’t necessarily refer to spain, ‘portuguese’ doesn’t necessarily refer to portugal, something i didn’t know either before i took it. 🙂 portuguese is one of the most common languages in the world, fifth most spoken i think; it’s spoken primarily in portugal (in europe, next to spain) and brazil (south america). another point: i’ve completely stopped spelling brazil with a ‘z’ because it’s spelled with an ‘s’ over there. 🙂 anyway, brasilian portuguese and continental portuguese are quite different. i’m learning brasilian portuguese, as you’ve probably gathered by now, but i can understand continental portuguese. it fascinates me, actually, because the manner of speaking is so entirely different. i guess it’s comparable to american and british english… or english as it’s spoken in the deep south 🙂 the accent is totally different, and there is also a whole different set of vocabulary.

okay, that said, i decided on a whim to go to the movie. i went, the person introducing it spoke in continental portuguese and that was fine. the movie started… and i could not understand anything! i estimate that during the whole movie, which lasted two hours, i understood a grand total of thirty words. i had absolutely no clue what was going on. i couldn’t even have told you what the characters’ names were, it was that bad. i was totally demoralized by the end of the movie and was wondering how i could explain to clélia that it was totally over my head.

well… the movie ended and the lights went on and raquel (the person who introduced the film) went up again and asked us what we thought. ‘nossa! [roughly equivalent to ‘my goodness!’]’ said clélia. ‘foi dificilíssimo! [it was so difficult!]’ i can’t tell you my relief at hearing that. the others in the room, even those who are from portugal, nodded and commented in agreement. it turns out that the portuguese spoken in the movie is a particular dialect spoken in northern portugal, which is clearly quite different from that spoken in the rest of portugal. after that i just felt so much better, i was able to relax a little and not feel so incredibly inferior. clélia ran over and gave me some red carnations (symbols of portugal, especially the revolution) which smell just wonderful. so i’m happy, i got to hear some interesting continental portuguese, and i’m not as bad in the language as i thought. 🙂

[note, 4/10/14: Imported from my old blog at]