Silly Conversations

It is odd how conversations come about which quickly become funny (silly funny – engraçado in Portuguese, or engraçada if you are female) This morning Fatima was explaining something about a piece of news, or something – I forget exactly what – but whatever it was contained the word galocha and she asked me if I knew what galocha meant and, of course, you have guessed, as did I, that galochas  are ‘galoshes’ – rubber overshoes. (I will, by the way, come back to the issue of singular and plural later….!)

Anyway, this made me think of a saying that tested one’s ability not to get one’s tongue twisted when saying “galoshlessness is foolishness when sharply slants the sleet” which I heard on early morning radio a long time ago from the chap who used to be on Radio 2 before Terry Wogan whose name escapes me as I write this…pause for Google search…RAY MOORE (thank you Google).

So we got to talking about tongue-twisters and, naturally, there are these in Portuguese as well. The one that Fatima chose to present for my delectation and, I guess, in an attempt to improve my language skills in Portuguese was about ‘Pedro, whose instep was black but anyone who said Pedro’s instep was not black had an instep that must have blacker than Pedro’s’ …or, as the Portuguese version goes:-

O peito do pé de Pedro é preto

Quem disser que o peito do pé de Pedro não é preto

Tem o peito do pé mais preto do que o peito do pé de Pedro

Please – do have fun trying it. I eventually mastered it (well, sort of…) but there was a fair amount of laughter along the way – on both sides – because Fatima had to attempt the galoshlessness one as well, of course. And we delved into ‘Red Lorry, yellow lorry’ and ‘Peter Piper and his peck of pickled pepper…’, too, along the way.

Singular and Plural

In the intellectual discussion on linguistics which followed we noted that in Portuguese, by the way, you can have a single galocha – as, indeed, one could have a single boot in English but you can only have a ‘Pair of galoshes’ in English. As you know, you can also only have a pair of trousers, or several pairs if you are comfortably off, but in Portuguese you can have a single calça (but, really that IS a PAIR of trousers in translation!) as well as multiple calças. And, as for scissors, we English can only have a pair but in Brazil you can have uma tesoura.

All of which leads me onto fashion and the distinction between shorts (beach, for the use of) and SOCIAL shorts – which one might wear for a party or any gathering of people in a social context. Social shorts tend to be of more substantial material and far less garish than beach shorts and are generally about knee length (Bermudas), whereas beach shorts can sometimes be an inch or two above the knee.

As I said at the beginning it is strange where words can lead you into silly conversations.


About Keith Melton - Green Lib Dem

Retired English liberal environmentalist living in Nottinghamshire; spent six years in Brazil. Author of Historical Novel - Captain Cobbler: the Lincolnshire Uprising 1536. Active member of the Green Liberal Democrats - (pressure group in Liberal Democrats) - was Founding Chair of GLD in 1988
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