After 18 months I can make myself understood (when forced to do so) and understand some of what is being said to me. Mostly I just point and engage those that I meet in a game of charades. Something the Portuguese have an innate talent for - I just choose not to enlighten them.
What I can do:
- ask for ... stuff
- decline anything
- affirm most things (I have to be careful here ... I've been known to say 'yes' to 3 kilos of pork before now)
- curse under my breath (and over it too)
- tell people I'm English. Apologetically. Not because I'm not a proud Brit - simply because every time I open my mouth I sound so ... infantile
- talk in the past or future tense (at all)
- complain (ohhhhhh I how I wish I could utter just a few words beyond 'Não, não gosta ... )
- reply to roughly 50% of what I'm asked by others
- tell our drunken neighbour to "shut the f**k up - no one on God's green earth is gonna give you a f**king beer ... it's stupid 'o clock in the morning you f**k wit"
Cascais - the beach down the road. A reason to keep trying to learn ...
Going back to learning Portuguese and my handicap. I'm convinced I have one. I truly want to learn the language but my brain leaks. See? ... I'm handicapped. And as for MPM - he simply rattles on in English and supposes that I'll just pick his lingo up in and among.
My problem is that I don't talk to anyone above and beyond when I'm out and about. I have no real Portuguese friends (accidental but there it is), I'm not the kind to just strike up random chatter with people I don't know and even if I could, I'm handicapped - remember?
So my learning curve is reduced to pinning my ears back, watching ridiculously dramatic Portuguese soap operas (more crying and screaming than script but hey ... whatever it takes), the evening news with MPM and reading Portuguese magazines in the bathroom.
For my part, I want accolades for what I do know, for what I can say. Because I think I deserve it. It's not an easy language to learn and to listen to - well that just makes everything harder. The Portuguese talk at the speed of sound and have this horrible habit of swallowing letters - even whole words from I can (now) tell.
Very single minded of them (in my opinion) and not at all set up for inter-country communication relations. And what's really unhelpful - though I love their efforts to help me - is the fact that my local café, butchers and so on know I'm English and now talk to me in ... English.
My café owner (and yes - it is my café - on account of I go there every day for one thing or another) always greets me with a loud 'Hellooooooo baybeeeeeee ... how are youuuuuuuu???' - which always has me wriggling (we Brits never greet anyone in such a way so I'm not sure where he gets this from or even why he uses it) but there you go - at least he tries.
I've come to the conclusion that I'm to remain forever tongue tied and lost in translation. I think I need to travel around Lisbon via taxi a lot more often. Now ... that's where you really begin to pick up Portuguese.
But that's another story for another day.
The view over downtown (Baixa) from Graça - another reason ...