My Own Personal Grey

Speaking in Tongues

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First Portuguese lesson was fun, but hard. I keep stumbling over my pronunciation and trying to remember that most of those S-es (and Zs) sound like “sh”–but only after a vowel–Cs aren’t like French or Italian, but more like English hard and soft C; X is “zh” except at the end of words like “Felix” where it’s “ks”;”e” “au” “ao” and “au” are more flexible than in Spanish; “e” at the end of a word is almost never voiced…; and “nho” is almost–but not exactly–like the Spanish “ño.” So Vinho Verde (one of my favorite wines) is spoken “Vinyo Verd,” rice with shellfish (like Spanish paella) comes our “arrosh d’ marishcosh,” and beer (corvajha) sounds like “servezha.” Which means my character Carlos is actually called “Karlosh Piresh Atayday” if I’m getting all this straight….

Basically, it’s like speaking a combination of Spanish and French in a Russian accent as rendered by Sean Connery.

But at least Mr. Kat and I know how to order beer in Lisbon (“Lishboa”).

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