Some Brazilian Portuguese Expressions

"A gasolina estava batizada," literally "The gasoline was baptized," meaning the gas was illegally diluted with water. An amusing expression from a very Catholic country.

"A mão de vaca," literally "the cow's hoof," meaning a cheapskate whose hand holds money tight, that never opens. Maybe an expression from the Northeast.

"Não há para onde correr," literally "there's nowhere to run," which means there is no other way to do something.

Display non-Roman Script in Seasonality Go v4.0

One of my favorite applications for Apple products is Gaucho Soft's Seasonality, which I have been using for years. It is a great weather monitoring application, with the particularly nifty animation of particles indicating wind temperature, direction, and velocity.

The iOS version is Seasonality Go, which is well worth buying if you monitor multiple weather locations. If you want to see your locations' maps in the local languages' scripts—e.g., see Tokushima City in Japan as 徳島市—the app itself does not (currently) offer a language display setting. You must flip the following setting for Maps, which you find by going to:

Settings : Maps : Always in English and switching it off, as shown below. Turning it on (green) leaves you with the Roman alphabet.

Settings : Maps : Always in English

Now we can see the weather in the language where it's happening.

Not Tokushima weather but 徳島市のお天気

Free Online Spanish

For some months now I have been putting in a few minutes most days to study Spanish. Since I am a student, I do not want to use money. Instead of taking Spanish classes or investing in Rosetta Stone, I use Duolingo.

Like many free sites, Duolingo requires that you set up a free account. A number of European languages are on offer: English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese (Brazilian), and Spanish. My Peruvian friend says the Spanish audio bits were recorded by Mexicans. Regardless, Duolingo offers basic conversational lessons through sessions that combine dictation, translation, and narration. Instead of using the desktop interface, I practice on my iPod with the free Duolingo app, which tracks my progress, sends reminders, and let me see how friends are doing on their Duolingo languages.

For a free program, it all seems quite well done. The iOS app often crashes after every two 12-question practice block; I just reopen the app. My only real gripe is that the practice sessions tend to focus on your most recent lesson's content; if you hope to get some vocabulary or grammar from 8 lessons back, you'll probably have to work through a recent practice before an older content practice lesson is served.

Kazakhstan to Dump Cyrillic Alphabet

Somehow I came across this article about Kazakhstan considering dumping the Cyrillic alphabet for the Latin. Atatürk jettisoned Arabic script for Latin. Some of the reasons given seem sensible, but I wonder to what extent the change is being made to see off the old Russian and Soviet influences.

A fellow student used to work at the US Embassy in Kazakhstan. I'll have to ask him about this.

Cyrillic is a bit difficult. When a boy, I taught myself Cyrillic because I was interested in Russian. However, I later forgot most of it, because it was never on the curricula of my junior and senior high school.


The other day an English student had a bag of M&Ms out. We were helping ourselves to them when he announced that they are quite morish.

Since the letters didn't appear in the air, I initially thought he meant "Moorish," but I was perplexed at the connection. Then I realized he meant "makes you want it more." Despite having worked with a number of Britons in Japan, I hadn't recalled hearing that. When I asked him whether it were a Britishism, he laughed and shrugged his shoulders.

He did acknowledge it had nothing to do with Moors, moors, or even mores.