Learning Portuguese with George Orwell

Posted by sue on September 30th, 2007

OrwellDownOut.jpgLooking for creative ways to keep me going with language learning, I thought it might be useful to try to read the same book in English and Portuguese. That way, I could learn lots of words in context and reduce the need to resort to the dictionary so much. (And, ideally, I could find the same book in Audiobook form in Portuguese- but that seems not to exist here.)

So I’m working on Na Penúria em Paris e em Londres by George Orwell, a translation of Down and Out in Paris and London, a fictionalized account of some of his experiences in the 1920s and 30s (first published in 1933), and one of my favorite books. The great thing about reading Orwell in translation is that you’re forced to learn tons of new words-he actually disliked long English words of Latin origin, because he thought they were too pretentious. (Usually it’s the Latin words that have made it into English that are a great help in reading Portuguese. Reading academic and technical writing in Romance languages is often way easier for English speakers than reading novels, because academic English is teeming with those long, Latin-based, “pretentious” words that translate easily into Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian.)

Anyhow, I’ve learned some useful words in the first few pages: percevejos (bugs), and zaragata (quarrel), and vaguear (to loaf, or loiter). Fluency, here I come!

27 Responses to “Learning Portuguese with George Orwell”

  1. Cathy Says:

    Das komt mir Spanisch vor!

  2. sue Says:

    Wie, bitte? My German is beyond rusty.

  3. Dawn Says:

    “Down and Out In Paris and London”, sounds like my kind of book. I’m gonna check that one out. In English, though…

    Hope you guys are doing well! Take care- and good luck with the Portugese readin’.

  4. Cathy Says:

    Instead of saying ‘it’s all Greek to me’ the Germans say ‘it comes to me as Spanish’

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