‘It patters noisily over the water before taking off’

Coots in the Ria Formosa at sunset
Coots in the Ria Formosa at sunset

I think that is a perfect description of Coots by the RSPB for a couple of the photographs in this post, and also an indication this post is not just about birds!

DSCN7879Let me start though with the Coot. They are great fun to watch taking off, as like swans they take a run at it. Their Portuguese name is galeirão-comum, and as Aves de Portugal has highlighted the ones in Portugal are far more wild than the ones who bob past you on a pond in a park in England. Not sure I have ever seen so many as I have around Olhão.

There was one in Olhão which repeatedly caught our eye over a couple of years. It was always on its own in the same pond, never joining the hundreds out on the open water. The last time we were there we didn’t see it though, so either it was no longer being ‘sent to Coventry‘, they are after all an aggressive bird, or it had died.

DSCN7793As I said at the start this post is not just about the Eurasian Coot. It was my title and the phrase ‘ sent to Coventry’ which got me sidetracked into thinking about Portuguese idioms.

I think idioms are a great way to get to know a country a little bit better, unfortunately though my grasp of Portuguese is so poor I can only just order drinks and a meal. I have had therefore to resort to google to see what I could find in way of unusual idioms. I came across the following.

  • Spotted on Oxford Dictionaries Blog – alimentar um burro a pão de ló – Its literal meaning is to feed the donkey sponge cake, but it means to treat someone really well who does not deserve it.

  • This one is from Crista Lopes’s blog – Armar-se em carapau de corrida – Literally it means He’s like a racing mackerel. If you hear someone say it it means the person they are saying it of thinks they are a big shot, but in fact they are a nobody.

  • Another one from the Oxford Dictionaries Blog – a galinha do vizinho é sempre mais gorda – Its literal meaning is your neighbour’s chicken is always fatter.  We would probably say in England the grass is greener on the other side

  • Also from Crista and again we have an English variation – Burro velho não aprende línguas  – The Portuguese literal meaning is old donkey doesn’t learn languages whereas in England we would say you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.

  • Unsurprisingly Wikipedia have a page on them – Tirar o cavalinho da chuva – Literally take the pony away from the rain, which you use apparently when you are advising someone to forget it or not to wait for it.

  • Another great one from Crista – É muita areia para a minha camioneta – Literally it means there is too much sand for my truck. In England we would say it is way over our head or if you are me make a hand gesture of a flat hand palm down passing over the top of my head.

  • A lovely one again, this time from Wikipedia – Ouvir o galo cantar e não saber onde – Literal translation is to hear the cock crow without knowing where but it means to be clueless or to succeed out of sheer luck. Not sure what we would use in England perhaps head in the clouds or dumb luck.

  • And to finish with another one from Crista. It is one that was very relevant to me on the day I wrote this post – De noite todos os gatos são pardos – Literal translation is at night all cats are grey. It means of course at night you cannot distinguish people or objects well. It is easy to make mistakes.

If you are Portuguese or speak Portuguese do let me know if these idioms are accurate, whether they are Brazilian or Portuguese and if they are correct are they still in common usage? Also love to hear if you have some great ones too.  Until I hear from you though here are a few more Coots!

Author: BeckyB

It had been a good life walking, cooking, photographing, volunteering, blogging, and best of all spending time with MrB, family, & friends. Sadly it no longer is. Suddenly and unexpectedly I have become a widow.

15 thoughts

  1. Enthralled by the colours in this post, Becky. 🙂 The Farol shots are superb and I love the ‘every sunset’ one too. I must pay more attention to the coots next time I’m there.

    1. Thank you so much – was very lucky with that Farol one. facing the right way in the right place at the right time!

  2. Lovely post again! All accurate, all in usage and all of them are Portuguese (and not Brazil Portuguese although I think they use some of them over there too)
    Beautiful amazing photos as usual 🙂

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