Slice of Life 13 – Paraskavedekatriaphobia and Paralelepípedo #sol24

13 March 2024


Happy Wednesday the 13th. I don’t think there is a word to describe a fear of Wednesday the 13th, but there is a word to describe a fear of Friday the 13th: Paraskavedekatriaphobia. That is surely a mouthful!

Last week Amy Juengst wrote a great post inspired by another Amazing Fact generated on the Mental Floss website. It was about heeding good advice about getting enough sleep because sleep is a time to clean your brain from daily toxins.  I thought Amy’s idea, which was a prompt challenge she learned from NaPoWriMo, was such a good one that I kept it up my sleeve and went to it today.

When I saw the first amazing fact, I knew right away that would be my inspiration. I’m not at all afraid of Friday the 13th, that is one big word, and I have no idea how to pronounce it. That’s about all I have to write about that amazing fact.

However, I chose this amazing fact because it reminded me of another story–very loosely related!

Last month, I went to Brazil for a storytelling training. The translator for my group, was a sweet teenager who was on vacation from school for Carnaval. She was full of life and enjoyed making people laugh. She had an American English accent, which I found surprising, but she explained that she learned English in Arizona when her dad was in graduate school at the University of North Arizona.

One of the stories she told us about her time in Arizona made me smile. At her new school, she hardly knew any English, but she learned quickly. It was her first year, and her fourth grade teacher asked Victoria if she would teach her some words in Portuguese. Victoria told her with a straight face she had the perfect word to begin her lessons. Paralelepípedo. She said the teacher didn’t ask her to learn any more Portuguese.

Paralelepípedo is seven syllables of pure fun.

It actually has two meanings in Portuguese. One is a paving stone and the other is a parallelepiped. Which is also fun to pronounce and almost spelled the same. (In case you are out of practice with geometry, like I was, it is a three-dimensional six-sided shape, like a slanted cube. Each side is a parallelogram.)

Parallelepiped Picture - Images of Shapes

Image by Benjamin Wiens from Pixabay

Slice of Life 8 – Multilingual Blogger – Ha! #sol24

8 March 2024

Here is my very dusty “Multilingual Blogger” badge. I haven’t used it since last March.

I wish I was multilingual; I’m still a poser. However, I’m trying, and after three years of studying Spanish on Duolingo, I feel more hopeful than ever before. Now, I’ve set myself a goal to get started this month on something I have been talking about. To meet a Spanish speaker who also wants to become more multilingual by working on their English. I would love to share conversation with them. I’ll update on the last Friday of the month, March 29.

In the meantime, today I’m remembering the Portuguese I learned in Brazil last month with this elfchen. These are the words I said the most during my week there!

não falo
português, mas eu
gosto disso. Bom dia,

don’t speak
Portuguese, but I
like this. Good morning,

Slice of Life – A Name Joke Lost in Translation

27 February 2024

“Minha sobrinha é Denise.”

I recognized Muriel’s Portuguese. We had just been talking about my name. The difference in the way it sounds in Brazil and America. Dee-nee-zee in Brazil. Slow and lyrical. (I think I like it better.)

Then I heard Muriel say sobrinha…and I knew in Spanish sobrina means niece, so I recognized what she was saying. It was such a funny surprise to be discussing in another language Denise and niece. I can’t count the many times in my life I’ve heard the conversation-starting, unrealistic joke about the one who had to name his sister’s twins because she was unconscious after childbirth. When she came around, he told her the names he picked. Denise for the girl. “Okay, that’s not so bad,” she said. “And what did you name my son?” Denephew. Haha.

But in Portuguese there is no rhyming of sobrinha and Dee-nee-zee. This was a true niece named Denise. I should have just appreciated the bit of communication that we were able to have without knowing each other’s languages. Instead, I attempted to tell her that sobrinha in English is niece and sounds like Denise. (But it doesn’t sound like Dee-nee-zee.) At that point, someone came by and was able to translate my little word play. Muriel laughed and we hugged and said tchau tchau, both off to our next activities.

I was reminded again from this exchange how important and complicated and beautiful language is in all its varieties. And how often the heart comes through even without words.

sobrinha or niece
some things lost in translation
but sweet love comes through

Spanish was very helpful while reading and trying to communicate in Portuguese. However, the pronunciations were so different, and there is more new vocabulary in Portuguese than familiar Spanish cognates, so I quickly learned that Spanish speakers and Portuguese speakers do not naturally understand each other. Like this word no in Portuguese. It means in (and a lot of other important prepositions). It’s pronounced nu. (The English no is não and pronounced more like English and Spanish.)

In love there is no fear
In my father’s house are many dwelling places – (Na is the feminine “in” here.)