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Published: March 7th 2009
The serrano river
You can bathe in the large holes created by diamond hunters helped by the rapid flow of water.
Here are photos of a few more sights around Lençóis.
Otherwise, I thought I talk a little bit about the Portuguese language today.
For whoever knows a decent amount of Spanish, Portuguese is pretty easy to pick up at a basic level. In fact, simply speaking Spanish with a Brazilian pronunciation will probably get you quite far. Naturally, speaking properly requires quite a lot more work. I'll try to explain some of the main rules of Brazilian Portuguese language and pronunciation, as well as a few interesting aspects:
In terms of pronunciation, there are a few letters that, depending on where they are situated within the word, do not sound as you would expect: most commonly, if they situated at the end of a word, an "L" will sound like a "u", an "o" will sound like an "u", and an "e" will sound like an "i" (or an "ee" for english speakers). These rules make it sometimes, for the unitiated (what a showoff), difficult to know how to read portuguese, or how certain words are written. For instance, the English word "if" is written "se", pronounced "see". Or "and" is written "e", but really pronounced "ee" (respectively
With Lençóis in the background
like the Spanish "si" and "y").
Grammatically, it is essentially exactly the same as Spanish. With a few subtle differences: you cannot say "más grande", or "menos grande" (bigger or smaller). You've got to say "maior" or "menor", for instance. there are man other little things like that that I cannot remember at the moment, but trust me, it can become quite frustrating if you're used to speaking spanish.
In terms of verbs, same story. Mostly the same verbs, but with some differences. "Querer" becomes "quer", "venir" becomes "vir"... But the most confusing for a hispanophone is gostar. Just like the spanish verb gustar, except it is used in an active sense, as in: "eu gosto de...". So it translates as "I like", and not "... pleases me", as in Spanish. Can be confusing.
Portuguese has now formal and informal way of addressing people, which is nice. Furthermore, for all verbs, the second person conjugaison is exactly the same as the third person. So, in the case of the verb "quer" (to want), you can say "você quer" and "ele quer", the verb being identical. I believe it is different in Portugal and some places in the
South of Brazil, where they use the "tu" form, but I'll try to ignore that... The confusing thing though is if you try, as in spanish, to use the word, "a gente", in order to say "people". That's not what it means, as "a gente" is a very frequently used way of saying "we", just like the French "on".
When in comes to tenses, they are the same as in Spanish. Except: they have a futur subjunctive form. It is used for future hypothetical situtations ("if you go to the market", "when you go to the market") and is created from the 3rd person plural of the past perfect tense. For instance, still using the verb "quer": the third person plural of perfeito is "vocês quiseram". Knock off the "am", and you are left with "quiser". From there, you have future subjunctive: "eu quiser, você quiser, nós quisermos, vocês quiserem".
There's also a form called personal infinitive, which essentially allows you to put personal pronouns together with infinitivo. "para eu fazer", "para você comer", etc... are very very frequently used. Then there are the abundant verbs, that have to participates depending on whether the verb is used in
an active or passive form... I think in many way Portuguese grammar is more complicated that Spanish.
Anyway, I think I'll stop boring you now. You must probably have pretty serious headache right now, and if you've looked at the pictures, you're probably wondering how I can even think about such dreadfully boring stuff in the midst of such beauty. I apologise but I just wanted to write about the language, just once.
I end this article with a bit about what I'm doing, as I haven't been very clear in my previous messages.
I am currently doing some translation work for a pousada (hotel) in Lençóis, which is owned by friends of my Portuguese teacher. They needed their website and may other documents to be translated into English and French (properly, anyway), so I am doing that 3 to 4 hours a day in exchange for staying for free at their truly charming hotel. I am not sure how long I will stay here, but I expect it will be some time given how much I love the place and how much there is to see around here. Yesterday, I got a free ride with a
group of Brits to see some of the sights with a local guide, because they didn't have anyone available who spoke English, and one of my friends offered me as an alternative if they let me on for the tour for free (about 25 euros saved thanks to that). I'm hoping to do some more of that if I can, thus getting to see the region without paying so much. I'm also showing off my excel skills, which I hope, added to my linguistic skills, will make me pretty employable here...
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