Hablas Portuñol o Fala Portingles?

I kid you not, I stumbled on the mother of all linguistic fusions thanks to one of my Uber drivers! My Portuguese is far from competent, but I can read documents, and follow conversations if they are not heated. However, the other day I asked the driver if he spoke English or Spanish so we could chat along the way. He grinned and said he spoke a smattering of both and neither one well enough to carry a conversation, but if I would settle for Portuñol (Portuguese and Spanish) or Portingles (obviously Portuguese and English), he would be happy to oblige. Well, we settled for Portuñol and had a blast, which is strange because I am usually a language purist and spent years trying to discourage my daughter from speaking that atrocity called Denglish (German and English). Taglish is unfortunately unavoidable among Filipinos, but I turn a deaf ear on that.

Now the combination of Portuguese and English has a few other names, my favourite one being Porglish. It sounds like a warthog who drank too much port and was set loose in Lisbon, but Porglish it is and it even has its own Wikipedia page! If you don’t fancy calling it Porglish, then you can always refer to is as Portingles, which to my ears is slightly better than Porglish.

Let me go back to Portuñol for a moment and point out that this particular linguistic phenomenon is not unique to Portuguese-Spanish border regions, but also between Uruguay and Brazil. If all these pidgin combinations were official, then I would be fluent in at least 12 languages! Hilarious but true, but in all honesty, I will always remain a purist, otherwise I have no business being a literary translator!

Now, back to my Uber adventures. Today’s driver was a cocky young fellow who spoke only Portuguese, had his music on loud, and drove with full carajo around town. The irony of the matter was that while we were zooming around, the song playing on the radio was Despacito… of which he clearly understood nothing of because he was anything but slow. So I arrived earlier than expected, had to catch my breath for a moment, and wobbled through the front door. Whew! Was I glad to get out of that car.

Another Friday, another week down. This officially marks my fourth week in Lisbon and I couldn’t feel better! Well, maybe, if the sun came out, but it seems we are in for more clay rain this weekend. In any case, life is good regardless of whether I am speaking Portuñol or Porglish.

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