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Grain by grain, the hen fills her crop

A bit like me as I try to learn Portuguese

Part of the joy of returning again and again to somewhere is that you begin to get to know local community, and we have already made some good friends with Portuguese and other Europeans who live in the east Algarve. Our long stays are also encouraging us to learn more about Portugal, and that of course includes the culture and language. I must admit I struggle with languages, including my own, and so my Portuguese is coming along incredibly slowly. I’ve decided I really need to rectify this and so we plan to attend a language school on our return this winter. In the meantime I’d thought I’d share a few Portuguese proverbs and idioms which caught my eye.

DSCN9718The first is my title De grão em grão enche a galinha o papo. The literal translation is ‘grain by grain, the hen fills her crop’. English equivalents I’ve come across include ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ or ‘Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves’. I like to think I’m a bit like the chicken with learning Portuguese, little by little I will get there! This proverb has also given me a great excuse to share a few of my Portuguese chicken photographs as part of Cee’s Odd Ball Challenge. I hadn’t known until now what to do with this particular photograph because I’d cut off her feet when I took it!

DSCN6378Using Odd Ball as the inspiration for my next proverb I came across Quem ama o feio, bonito lhe parece. The literal translation is who loves the ugly finds it beautiful. Again there seem to be two English equivalents, the first is ‘Beauty is only skin deep’ and the second is ‘Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder’. I don’t think this cockerel has any doubts about his inner strength or his beauty!

I’ll finish with an idiom I have come across a few times  – O Português é uma língua muito traiçoeir. The literal translation is that Portuguese is a treacherous language, and I have heard the English in Portugal say repeatedly in English how tricky or difficult they find Portuguese. I’m not sure it is any more difficult than any other language. I know from experience that French, German and English can all trip you up, and Henriette Walter in “L’Aventure des langues en Occident’ says of English ‘It is impossible to give an idea, even approximately, the lexical diversity of the English’! 2014-05-13 001 2014-05-11 051We have found it is easier to read Portuguese than hear it or say it, but I am confident with practice we will get there.

If you enjoy language then do check out a couple of other posts I wrote a few months ago, the first was also on sayings and the most recent on name pronunciation. And if photography is more your thing pop along and visit Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenges.

15 comments on “Grain by grain, the hen fills her crop

  1. Very interesting post. I know a little Spanish and French after years of training! Languages are a challenge, but so interesting. I see a lot of both romance languages in Portuguese, but they are not similar enough for me to make a guess at to the meaning. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope I haven’t been led up the garden path here, Becky, but I’m sure I was told once that a crop is part of the hen… so the grain by grain quote could also be interpreted as not biting off more than you can chew. Just a thought. I’d definitely be doing that, though, if I had to learn a language today! Good luck with your learning – I’m sure you’ll be fine!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bom dia Becky,
    eu reconheço as tuas experiências, o portugués é um desafio.
    Saudações de Würzburg, Alemanha

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vielen dank für ihre ausgezeichnete Portugiesische botschaft. Hoffe, dass alles gut in Würzburg ist. Ich wünsche, dass mein verständnis von sprachen wie bei ihnen so gut war. Ich habe nur dies dank einer übersetzen app geschrieben, so bin sicher, es gibt viele fehler

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the intricacies of language, even when it gets so complex I can’t understand!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We also have a home in the Algarve which we visit frequently. We are having lessons by Skype and our reading is coming on quite well but when trying to speak I lapse into French and when trying to listen all the words run into one constant shhhh!

    Liked by 1 person

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