During my time learning second languages I have found certain word combinations seemed stubbornly unwilling to make a home in my memory banks. Back when I was learning Spanish, I used to have terrible trouble with ciudad (city) and cuidado (care/careful). You can see the issue can’t you? They look pretty similar and when you have all those other words trying to get in, it can be very easy to get these two mixed up.
As you may have worked out from the blog title (you clever people!), the words I have trouble with in Portuguese are Feira and Ferias. These are both excellent words so I’m hoping by telling you a little about them I can fix this once and for all!
A Feira (sounds like FAY-ra) is a street market. I love these places! Loads of hustle and bustle, noises and smells, great looking vegetables, all kinds of crazy fruit and most times I visit I see something that makes me go “What’s that?!”.
What you see above is a Feira. Repeat after me – FEIRA! Now let’s move on:
I’m also a big fan of our second “F” – the word Ferias (sounds like FE-rry-ass) means holiday, as in personal vacation. In a reflection of the Brazilian tradition of taking big chunks of vacation (as opposed to a few days here and there), one never speaks of a single “feria”. The normal situation is for Brazilians to take a single, annual vacation of 4 weeks. I still find this rather amazing. In all my working life I’ve taken two 2 week holidays – all the other breaks have been for a single week or 10 days.
There is an interesting difference here I think. Mrs Eat Rio tells me that 2 weeks just isn’t enough to completely relax. I feel that 2 weeks is a great, even extravagant, amount of time to take off. I suspect that in the UK (and probably the US too) there is a feeling among many workers that if your boss can cope without you for 4 weeks, he or she might decide they can cope without you permanently! Perhaps this has shaped our tradition of taking multiple, short breaks rather than one long one? I always felt rather good to return from holiday and have people react with “Oh thank god you’re back!” – better than “Actually the new kid David has coped rather well while you were away…”
So now we have covered my two tricky words – they stick together and confuse me by looking and sounding somewhat similar. But there are a couple of other ‘F words’ that could also be cause for confusion.
We covered public holidays a little while back – Brazil has loads of them! And this is where the word feriado (sounds like ferry-AH-do) comes in. When people are leaving the office on the eve of a public holiday, they will wish each other Bom Feriado. For someone (like me) who calls everything simply “holiday” (us Brits don’t really go in for the word “vacation”), this seems like just one more complication, but we’re still not finished!
Finally we finish with Folga. If your boss asks you to work over the weekend, he/she may then allow you take another day off at a later date as compensation. That extra day is a folga. In the UK we refer to this as “a day in lieu” (the word “lieu” is French for “place”). We pronounce lieu to rhyme with words such as “shoe” and also “loo”. And if you know anything about British vocabulary you’ll know that spending a day in the loo is no one’s idea of a holiday!
Feliz Ano Novo para todos!
Happy New Year everyone!