LINGUISTICS & CULTURE
|Data:||06/AGO/2009 6:17 PM|
I learned Spanish first. I've never taken Portuguese lessons. I've learned "na marra". I have a good practical vocabulary because I've used Portuguese to resolve daily problems, but I miss the formal training and it shows when I come to something that is basic and I simply don't know it. I can tell the man the botujao needs to be changed or he has a nice bagual, but I may not know the right conjugation of a verb.
I've worked hard to keep Spanish out of my Portuguese. Sometimes it creeps in, but...
I walked into a conversation in Portunhol in Gramado. It was terrible. Were they Argentines/Uruguayans trying to speak Portuguese or Brazilians trying to speak Spanish?
A woman and a man were the two main speakers. In time I could tell the woman was Brazilian, but I couldn't identify the man's ethnicity at first. Eventually, I learned he was Argentine. He and I were to become friends. He'd lived in "o Sul" for years but had never learned to speak decent Portuguese. When he'd return to Argentina, he'd take his Portunhol with him. In other words, even in his native country he couldn't keep from speaking Portunhol. Very interesting.
Shortly after my arrival in Costa Rica, I took an intensive Italian course. In about six months, we covered about two years of normal classes. I'd learned Italian "na marra" when I was a kid while working in an Italian store. Later I'd taken university level classes for about two years. I hadn't used Italian, however, for years. I wasn't starting from zero, but almost. I had a lot of trouble keeping the Portuguese out of the Italian. Towards the end of the course, it became less of a problem.
The "secret" (if a secret exists) is to have someone hit you alongside the head with a stick each time you make a mistake and mix languages. You need someone who is aware of your problem and is motivated to help you. And you talk and talk and talk. And you write and write and write.
I rarely have a chance to speak Portuguese. Three weeks ago I had quite a long chat at a churrascaria. Gaúchos. In April I came across some Brazilians in Florida. Paulistas. It's all very hit and miss. I think I did quite well. No hesitations, no searching for words, no mixing of languages, use of girias, etc. What has been a big help is going to chatrooms like those of UOL.COM. And I have a few friends I write to in Brazil. Use it or lose it. That's why I had to take Italian again. I was fluent, but I had lost the fluency because I hadn't been using it.
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