Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Learning Portuguese: Muito Dificil

The report from the language wars isn’t encouraging. Despite quite a bit of effort I still cannot understand the news on Radio Televisão Portugal, even though I’ve been able to read newspaper articles and even an academic text or two for some time.

This summer I thought I’d try to find someone to give me private lessons, but it is, after all, summer, and everyone I approached said no one was available. In that fall, they said. There are courses at many places, wait until then.

So I found another teach yourself kit at the library. This one is Harrap’s: what I know I owe to one from Nathan which I’ve listened to so often that I actually make out individual words. A sentence from a dialogue stood me in good stead when I wanted to buy a map: Uma planta de Lisboa tem uma lista das ruas. Without too much difficulty I was able to turn it around and ask if the map I was looking at had a list of streets.

But to go any further I’m going to need some help. Maybe in the meantime I should make up little dialogues and try reading aloud. There are three weekly Portuguese newspapers in Montreal, for starters. For the moment, though, I’ll just wish you “Bom dia,” and get back to working on Making Waves: The Portuguese Adventure.

Photo: From the window of a shop in Lisbon that specializes in dueling and fencing. Some of the words are easy to figure out, if you know some French or Spanish. But it's the continental accent that gives me pause. All too often the last of a word is swallowed. A few months ago I watched RTP reports about forest fires for three days before I realized the word that sounded like "owe fogue" was "o fogo," or "fire."

1 comment:

lagatta à montréal said...

I find Brazilian much easier to understand than European Portuguese; is that normal? (I speak French and Italian fluently and can get by in Spanish, learnt mostly with an Argentine, though I've spoken with Spanish speakers from Spain and all over Latin America). No problem at all understanding simple phrases as in that lovely sign advertising somewhat disturbing lethal items.