Shh, Thar Be Portuguese Nearby!

Posted by len on May 30th, 2007

One of the interesting things about living in a very popular, but relatively compact tourist-attraction of a city is hearing so many languages being spoken all around you.
On a typical walk down to the local cafes, for example, I have a game where I listen as I pass a group of tourists to the language they’re speaking (the large cameras hanging around their necks are the giveaway) and try to figure out where they’re from.
French and German are fairly common and I think I get a lock on those pretty quick.
Portuguese has been a real challenge to recognize until I figured out the Secret of ‘Sh’.
Remember, I only speak about 5 words of the language (that will change!). However, in an attempt to acquire a new apartment lately I’ve been very close to lots of Portuguese being spoken over my head and around my head in pretty much every direction (I even spent a good part of an afternoon with a Portuguese senior citizen that doesn’t speak a word of English).

So the Secret of Sh has to do with the Portuguese pronouncing lots of their “s” vowels as “sh”.
So “Anjos”, a stop on the metro, is pronounced “Ahn-joosh” (they also pronounce a lot of single “o” letters as “ooh”). “Desculpe” (I’m sorry) is pronounced “dish-kool-peh”.

So if you find yourself in the middle of your city’s Little Lisbon and you hear something that could be Spanish but you’re not convinced, listen for the telltale Portuguese “Sh” in every other word and think about the Squid.

26 Responses to “Shh, Thar Be Portuguese Nearby!”

  1. Sina Says:

    Hey globetrotters!
    Long time no talk, I know. Hope you’re beeing all good and happy.
    It’s really hard to catch up with you guys. Do you feel like you can settle now? =)
    Otherwise you maybe really do end up in Germany!!!?
    Just want to admit that Germans are really easily seen when they are abroad. Pretty embarrasing sometimes but that’s the way it is.
    I want to take the chance to say hi to everybody else as well.
    Muchos saludos!

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