Some Portuguese epigrams

For Nick—
f the reader finds this post a tad arcane, just wait till you see his WAM anagrams

Further to my little Lisbon jaunt, I’m always disappointed at my total lack of success when I try to busk it in Spanish by randomly adapting Italian—but it’s even more futile to further modify my crap Spanish into bacalhau (sorry, I mean cod) [1] Portuguese.

I soon dispensed with my old Portuguese phrase book (less entertaining, and less sinister, than Teach yourself Japanese)—its very opening phrase suggests a similar deep anxiety about even setting foot outside our own green and pleasant land:

There’s been an accident.

I flew TAP (Take a Parachute). Indeed, the flight prefix is further abbreviated by omitting the middle letter, so not for the only time, I found myself flying TP (Totally Pissed).

Aboard TAP flights, with impressive urbanity in the vein of Mots d’heures, the airline regales the traveller with a pithy and somewhat obscure epigram evoking the saudade of fado. It seems to recall a sad incident in the colourful past of an early Lisbon femme fatale, perhaps a widow of French patrician stock (even a refugee from the guillotine?):

Colete Salva-Vidas sob a Cadeira [2]

I’ve added capitals for clarity, but in order to preserve the ambiguity of the original I have refrained from supplying what seems to be a missing apostrophe—indeed, could it even be an exhortation?

Either way, it is far more evocative in Portuguese than in its prosaic English rendition

Life jacket under the seat.

Cf. Airplane:

Airplane is packed with little visual detail like that, requiring as much long-term revisiting as the Ring Cycle. Even the opening sequence is a too, er, deaf ‘orse.

And I’m keen to dally with Mme [sic] Salva-Vida’s [just as sic] enticing daughters

Rolagem, Descolagem, and (black sheep of the family) Aterragem,

also commemorated in TAP’s onboard annotations. Again, their names are so much less elegant in English:

Taxi, Takeoff, and Landing.

For a new addition to the family, Proxima Paragem, see here.

Just had one of those wacky dreams:

In Lisbon, invited implausibly to some suspiciously traditional social event with an old friend, we make our tortuous way there by means of a badly bombed Escher staircase. Arriving unscathed, I mingle suavely with the locals. Pleased with myself for managing to utter a grammatically convincing phase, I exclaim “Progresso!” “Si,” my Portuguese friend nods, “Esta Truro.”

How pitilessly my subconscious satirises my naïve aspirations to insider status.

For another dream, and a Portuguese limerick, see Ogonek and Til.

[1] Altogether Now: The Piece of Cod Which Passeth All Understanding.

[2] Cadeira: twinned with Madeira.

13 thoughts on “Some Portuguese epigrams

  1. Pingback: Jottings from Lisbon | Stephen Jones: a blog

  2. Pingback: More useful socialist vocabulary | Stephen Jones: a blog

  3. Pingback: The Li band in France: notes | Stephen Jones: a blog

  4. Pingback: Jeux d’esprit | Stephen Jones: a blog

  5. Pingback: Jottings from Lisbon 2 | Stephen Jones: a blog

  6. Pingback: Jesus jokes | Stephen Jones: a blog

  7. Pingback: Notes from Beijing, 4: between cultures | Stephen Jones: a blog

  8. Pingback: Europe: cultures and politics | Stephen Jones: a blog

  9. Pingback: Gepopo: pa-pa-pa-panic | Stephen Jones: a blog

  10. Pingback: Acronyms | Stephen Jones: a blog

  11. Pingback: Mozart vocal trios | Stephen Jones: a blog

  12. Pingback: Language learning: a roundup | Stephen Jones: a blog

  13. Pingback: Publicity | Stephen Jones: a blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s