Thursday, September 30, 2010

Portuguese - check

I have a trip to my girly parts doctor today. Just a little check up.  When I stop to think about it, it always amazes me that I do these things in Portuguese.  I mean, it´s just crazy to think that I arrived here speaking nothing and then ended up delivering both my boys using a language other than my native to communicate.

So I thought I´d do a list of the things I am proud that I can now manage in Portuguese:

1. Doctors:  We´re talking pediatricians, gyno, ER doctors. I´m at ease with my Portuguese medical vocab. Ok, not so much but I´m damn good at charades now.

2. Dentist:  This was surprisingly hard. Just as dentists all over the world, my dentist asked me questions while my mouth was full of stuff. I had a hard time slurring in Portuguese but she seemed to understand. That or she´s a good faker, maybe I should ask her husband...

3. The Butcher:  I used to be afraid of the butcher. I don´t know the different cuts very well and the butchers I´ve met are always in a rush.  I manage now.  If they get impatient, I just take a little longer.

4. Gas station: Have no idea why this made me nervous. It´s full service for goodness sake.  Needless to say, one time and I mastered this challenge.

5. The Gym:  Half the time I don´t know what the hell the trainer person is saying.  First off, I´m in the middle of a workout.  Second, they just start spouting out random words.  Not a big deal though, they are usually there to tell you your position is wrong. If you don´t understand they´ll just fix it.  Basically, I´ve always had pretty touchy feely relationships with gym trainers.  Poor Rachel.

6. School Admins:  At first I got so overwhelmed by the info that I didn´t understand anything. Now I manage with the Sass God gave me and even ask for discounts.  What can I say, the discount is the Brazilian way.

How about you ex-Pats out there?  What have you mastered in a foreign language that´s made you proud?


  1. As you have pointed out in the past - asking for small squishy/crusty fresh bread at the bakery has its dangers.

    But let me tell you - put yourself in a gay night club. You don't want to be commenting on someone's small squishy bread...

    I mastered that territory right out of the gate.

  2. Jim, you're crackin' me up!

    I think I've made big progress with asking for and understanding directions. Esquerda, esquina, direita, otro lado da rua, avenida, perto da...

    I'm getting lost less and less when I head out to find something. I suppose that's good and bad, I got to see quite a bit of the town while I was lost.

  3. I registered at Unicamp by myself and did all the paperwork through tears. My Portuguese was terrible then. I feel pretty up to par in all the areas you spoke of. My concern is expressing opinion and having the idea come out wrong. Subjuntivos have become the next challenge. I don't know it's still hard for me to wrap my head around, it is a conditional form that my Portuguese teacher said is an important signal for an educated Portuguese speaker. I hear short imformal or formal subjuntivos and imperativo all the time. The most common I hear is "Pare"! Which I think is informal and "para" is formal. But longer phrases like "Vocês duvidamos que eu resolve o problema?" I hear less and dont understand how to use very well. But maybe I am wrong and dont hear it because I dont fully understand it.

  4. I forgot to mention opening a bank account, although I did not master that one! It was horrible. I cried. I had to go back numerous times until one day I refused to leave. I made sure I went there about 30 minutes before closing and I told him I wasn´t going to leave until he made it work. You know what, they did! I will never do that again!