Sorry for the lack of posting yesterday; we were up in the Alentejo for the day. It certainly looks different from when I last saw it in April! Then it was lush and carpeted with spectacular flower displays; now it’s brown and toasty hot. Of course, the Algarve has turned brown as well, but I live here and see the daily changes, so it doesn’t seem so drastic.
Anyway, while driving along I was thinking about Portuguese metaphors and similes, and thought I’d toss out this one:
Mais velho que a Sé de Braga.
It means, “Older than the Braga Cathedral,” and refers to something that is really, really ancient. The Sé de Braga was begun sometime after 1070 and first consecrated in 1089, after the completion of the eastern chapels.
I find the choice of comparators interesting, because there are certainly older things in Portugal — the Templo Romano in Évora comes to mind. Then I wonder what similar comparator we could use in the US and have to laugh, because of course in the US we think anything built before 1900 is ancient. Therefore, we have to take a whole different tack. The two similar US phrases I can think of are “older than God” and “older than dirt.” Personally I’m a fan of the latter. There’s just something about dirt.
As an aside, here is a typical conversation between me, the grammar nerd, and my wife:
Me: But shouldn’t it be “Mais velho do que a Sé de Braga”?
J: Well…yes, but it’s not.
Me: Why not?
J: It’s just not!
Me: But that doesn’t make any sense!
J: Well, that’s the way it is! It probably started out as “do que” and got shortened to “que.”
J: English is just as bad. Why the hell is “were” in werewolf, ‘we’re going now,’ and ‘we were just going’ all spelled the same but has three different pronunciations and three different meanings?
Me: Because it just does.
(Photo of the Sé de Braga from Wikipedia.)