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Small differences, metric system, royale with cheese, right? So let me share a small thing that’s been nagging me forever.

In portuguese the word for laziness is a noun, so that you can have laziness and wonder about it’s size. And you can sort of say the same things in english, but somehow the feeling’s just not the same.

Example: if you say «tô com uma preguiça» it’s something like «i’ve got preguiça» like this is something you own instead of a characteristic of your person.

Don’t know if it goes without saying, but the end effect is that it’s much less shameful to say «preguiça» — it is assumed to be transitory. It’s a slightly different verbal time.

I do not forward those observations as an argument for Sapir-Whorf. On the other hand, i have a feeling that it bears on untranslatability.

Moving on: in english you are in a hurry, in portuguese you have pressa. Here the english form seems less personal, like the hurry is an external circumstance, does not depend on you, and in portuguese it’s like an attitude towards the situation.

Obviously, it could also only be vocabulary deficiency on my part. I have been accused of “not seeming to be a native speaker” in one of those flamewars, so…

Do i have any bilingual readers comfortable enough with both languages to comment?

Final note: this time, no matter how much my spellchecker dislikes it, language names go without capitalization, as usual in portuguese!


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