Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Learning Portuguese

At Easter I'm off to Portugal to visit my brother-in-law and sister-in-law on their small-holding, deep in inland Portugal where I believe many people don't speak much - if any - English. I have therefore decided to spend the next 3 months learning Portuguese. Hopefully it will be of some help when I am over there, but I'm doing it just as much for the challenge and because I love learning. I'm also, I've come to realise, fascinated by how languages fit together, about word origins and similarities with words in other languages. I've been surprised already with the similarities to many words in French (though they're both Romance languages, with much of the language derived from Latin, so it is to be expected).

I started this New Year's Resolution on January 1st, and immediately encountered a problem. I'm using Duolingo, a fabulous app for learning languages which I used in the summer to brush up on my French before a trip to Paris. Unfortunately it turns out there are two distinct 'flavours' of Portuguese - European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese, and most books, apps, courses etc teach Brazilian Portuguese (understandably - 230 million speak Brazilian Portuguese, 10-15 million speak European Portuguese). I would rather learn European Portuguese, obviously.

I've come up with a sort of compromise. I'm going to carry on using Duolingo. It's a fab app and fits well with me. I'm also using Memrise, another app which offers the choice of European Portuguese, and at some point I'm going to watch/listen to some videos and podcasts and I'll make sure I use European Portuguese ones. I'm still not sure how extensive the differences are, but I believe it is mostly on the pronunciation side, with just the occasional different words.

So along with board games and books posts, I may be posting some of Portuguese learning experiences!

For now, here's the Portuguese words for colours.

red: vermelho/a - presumably derived from 'vermillion' (In fact, yes. Latin is vermis/vermiculus. Vermis literally means worm!).
blue: azul/azuis (singular/plural). Relates to azure blue?. (Azure actually comes from Medieval Latin, which came from Arabic, which came from the Persian 'lazward' for lapis lazuli, a deep blue semi-precious stone. So there you go!)
yellow: amerelo/a
green: verde - similar to French 'vert' and verdant green.
orange: cor-de-laranja; laranja - sounds a bit like orange. Cor de means colour of, i.e. colour of an orange (fruit).
purple: roxo/a or purpura. I get the second, not sure of the first one.
pink: rosa / cor de rosa - colour of rose, get that easily.
black - preto/a
white: branco - like blanco/blank

Note - am ignoring accents for now, may try to figure out how to put them in at some point.

A note on words ending in o/a. This I understand is to do with gender. Words ending in o are masculine, words ending in a are for feminine words. This works for nouns, but also for adjectives describing things. Interesting.

That's all for now folks.