Tuesday, 3 July 2012


Don’t get me wrong – I adore my mother tongue. But even I have to admit there are simply some things it faltas – er, lacks – when compared to other languages. So for PCVs, we just incorporate these essential Portuguese words into English. Here are a few of the need-to-know phrases if you ever hope to have a coherent conversation with a Moz PCV.

English: already
But really…: simplest way to say that something is/has already been done.
“I já saw this episode, how ‘bout the next one?”

Person A: “I’m going to the market to grab some tomatoes.
Person B: “Já.”
Person A: “Oh okay, nevermind.”

Person A: “Check out that chique guy at the next table.”
Person B: “Jaaaaaaa.”

Portuguese: negar
English: to say no, deny
But really…: pretty much that, only simpler
“Wow, I only had to negar three marriage proposals at the market today. Do you think maybe they’re starting to take the hint?”

Person A: “Check out this awesome Michael Jackson jumpsuit I found at the calamadadies market!”
Person B: “Yeah, sorry, I’m going to have to negar your ever wearing that in public…”

Person A: “You want to buy some bolachas?”
Person B: “I’m negar-ing.”

Portuguese: conseguir
English: to manage to do
But really…: anything that you manage to do or attain, usually some sort of accomplishment
“Hey, did you conseguir the matapa?”

“I conseguir-ed the most amazing boleia to the beach yesterday – seatbelts and air conditioning!”

Portuguese: pedir
English: to ask for
But really…: anytime you need or want something; in Portuguese the phrase “Estou a pedir…” literally means “I am asking for…” and is used instead of a request with “please”
“Estou a pedir tomato sauce.” (real English: Pass the ketchup.)

“Check out that guy’s Obama shirt! I’m going to pedir him for it.”

“That lady by the chapa stop pedir-ed my hair – I’m selling it to her for 3,000 mets!”

Portuguese: faltar
English: to lack , to be lacking
But really…: whenever you are missing something, or feel the absence of something; in Portuguese to “sentir falta de alguem” means to feel the absence of someone, or to miss them
“We’re falta a chicken plate – go pedir the waiter.”

“I sentir a falta de Khanimambo. The house just isn’t the same without him.”

Person A: “When does this meeting start?”
Person B: “Falta five minutes…or 95 minutes, Mozambican time.”

Portuguese: estamos juntos
English: we are together
But really…: the most sure and polite way to end a conversation, or reassure a person you’re on good terms.
“Oh, that’s nice, you have a decent job and are looking for a wife. Okay, estamos juntos.” (and walk away quickly)

Person A: “Estamos juntos?”
Person B: “Estamos juntos.” (smile, nod, high five, walk away feeling good)

Portuguese: aproveitar
English: to take advantage of
But really…: exactly that
“Could you turn in my grades for me Friday? I’m aproveitar-ing a boleia straight to Maputo on Thursday.”

“This bathroom has toilet paper and running water! You should totally aproveitar.”

Portuguese: tudo bem/bom
English: everything’s good
But really…: used in greetings, as an agreement or just as reassurance; also overly used in annoying Vodacom adverts
Person A: “Hey man, tudo bem?”
Person B: “Tudo bem.”

Person A: “Haven’t seen you in forever! How’s life?”
Person B: “Tudo bom.”

1 comment:

  1. Hello Valerie!

    You have a very nice blog, and it is really cool to be able to read it. The stories, photos and videos are very interesing. The stuff you do as a PCV is amazing, hope you are having a great time!

    My name is Rajko and I am from Montenegro, small country in southeastern Europe. I was wondering if it's possible for you to help me with my project. I am trying to collect postcards from every country in the world, and I still miss postcard sent from Mozambique in my collection. So far, I've managed to collect postcards from more than 200 countries, and having postcard sent from Mozambique would make my day, and I would be forever faithful to you! Of course, I will be happy to send you back anything you would like to receive from my country, just let me know what do you need. I also have my (postcard) blog, where I show my collection day by day, you are very welcome to visit it: http://mnepostcards.blogspot.com/

    In the past, a lot of PCV helped me out with my collection. Me and my friends collectors exchanged postcards and similar stuff with a lot of volunteers who used postcards to teach their students about the world.

    Thanks a lot for your help in advance! Here is my email: rajkogolovic@gmail.com

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Yours faithfully,