colloquialism |kəˈləʊkwɪəlɪz(ə)m|noun – a word or phrase that is not formal or literary and is used in ordinary or familiar conversation.• [ mass noun ] the use of colloquialisms.(source – Oxford English Dictionary) Ok. Now that you know what a colloquialism is, we can proceed. Just like every other language, Portuguese has its own set of interesting and rather witty colloquialisms. I’ve run across a few that I thought you might get a good kick out of. Learning a new language is an exciting and oftentimes frustrating journey. Imagine if you were talking and right in the middle of a very serious conversation your friend said,
“There’s a cat here.”The first time I heard that I realized that I had several choices.
- Look around for a small four legged furry animal to put outside.
- Interrupt my friend and ask, just what a milk loving, prissy mammal had to do with the business of the church.
- Pretend that I knew exactly what he was talking about and try to figure it out later in the conversation or just Google it when I got home.
I chose number two, judging that both numbers 1 and 3 could have worse consequences later in the conversation, and I discovered that it basically means, to use an American colloquialism, “There’s something fishy here.”Cat, fish…what’s the difference? Speaking of fish – the first colloquialism I believe I heard here in Portugal was this one.
In English it is much easier. Like father, like son. One more and I’ll let you go ponder weightier matters. You know the old image that we all have in our minds of someone who doesn’t have a hammer nearby but needs to pound a nail back into place. What does that person do? He takes off his shoe and uses the next best thing, right? We’ll, if that happened in Portugal, a room full of people would simply shrug their shoulders and say,
“The fish’s son knows how to swim.”
“He who doesn’t have a dog, hunts with a cat.”Cat, fish, dog. Portuguese colloquialisms are pretty funny to me. What about you? What’s your favorite English (or Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, etc) colloquialism. I’d love to hear it.