Monday, 23 January 2012

This Little Otter Went To Market

I have a variety of different friends from different countries which I have collected over the years like stamps, and so I understand the perils of multi-lingual conversations (one of my Brazilian friends, for example, cannot understand the difference between the words "beach" and "bitch", which has made for a surprising and confusing sentence on more than one occasion). However on a day last week, my Portuguese friend and I had a phone conversation which was as follows:

Portugal: So, there is a guy at my work. He was off for a while but he came back today. 

Me: Okay.

Portugal: And now he's dead.

Me: ..I'm sorry?  He's dead?

Portugal: No! His father.

Me: ...His father is dead?

Portugal: No!

Me: I am so confused.

There was a brief, puzzled silence on both sides of the phone.

Portugal: He had a baby....?

Me: Oh, he's a dad! I get it now. 

I started learning Portuguese recently (you know I'm a language whore, with my Latin and my classical Greek, and my casually pointless favourite French phrases - currently "parce que j'ai le jeux, mes chiennes!" For those of you who don't speak French, it basically means "because I've got game, bitches") but it came to my attention quite quickly that it is mostly an annoying language, full of unnecessary extra grammar and names that don't make sense. I asked my Portuguese friend about this one day.

Me: Okay so, Monday is 'segunda-feira' in Portuguese, right?

Portugal: Yes.

Me: Which translates as what?

Portugal: Second Market Day.

Me: (gaping at her) Second...?

Portugal: Market Day.

Me: Right. Tuesday is 'Third Market Day' and so on until Friday, which is 'Sixth Market Day', yes?

Portugal: Yes.

Me: Okay. But Saturday and Sunday are called "Sabado" and "Domingo"?

Portugal: (clearly worried about where this is going) Yes?

Me: Why?

Portugal: Why what?

Me: Do you not see how ridiculous that is?

Portugal: What do you mean?

Me: Why are Saturday and Sunday not called "market day" too?

Portugal: They just aren't... Maybe there were no markets on those days.

Me: Okay, but if there wasn't a market on Sunday, then why call Monday "Second Market Day"? Presumably it's actually the first market day?

Portugal: No, because Sunday is the first.

Me: (pinching my nose) Then why not call it that?

Portugal: I don't know!

Me: (narrowing my eyes) Your language is stupid. I'm going to blog about this. And possibly write a letter to your government.


  1. Oh, but a random selection of Norse deities and celestial objects, with one lonely Roman god thrown in, is a perfectly logical way to name the days of the week...

  2. Although you do have a point (although I would probably have named them much worse things if given a chance - Wednesday could so easily have been Whedonday, to everyone's amusement and delight) at least we end everything in "day" so there is a semblance of pattern...

  3. Tu gostas? Nao, tu nao gostas :)