Monthly Archives: September 2010

Expression of the week: falar é fácil

“Falar é fácil”.

English equivalent: “talk is cheap; easier said than done”.

Sample sentences:

Informal context: “I can run much faster than you.”     “Talk is cheap. Let’s see if you can really do it!”

Neutral/ more formal context:  “We believe the company can grow 5% this year”.   “That’s easier said than done. We’ll have to work hard for that”.

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Everybody is an expert

It’s always great fun for me to read or listen to news about aircraft accidents or incidents. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I enjoy the tragedy. What makes me laugh are the uninformed comments made by every Tom, Dick and Harry the press can find in the vicinities of the event. What can I possibly learn from a person who witnessed the accident but who has no technical knowledge whatsoever to analyze the fact? At most, what they felt when they saw the accident, not more than that. It’s great comedy material, though.

For example, a Delta Aircraft performed an emergency landing at JFK airport this week, according to the news as seen here, here and here, because one of the wheels didn’t come down when commanded by the pilots. One of the passengers shot a video of the landing which has been circulating through the Web; Watch the video below, and check out the comments it has triggered:

The broader question here is why they didn’t go through the usual procedures when landing gear is malfunctioning – no go-around to give emergency crews more time to mobilize? No dumping fuel to minimize the explosion if the tanks get lit? You sure you don’t wanna try dropping that landing gear a few more times? The communication around this seems more along the lines of  “Hey guys, our landing gear isn’t working. Here we come!”  Hopefully as details are released, we’ll find out that they jumped through all these hoops. I surely hope if I’m on the next plane with gear issues, we’ll spend at least a few minutes flying in a circle to make sure we’ve tried everything.”

“I would have murdered that stewardess after landing. ‘heads down stay down’ nothing could make me feel more unsafe.”

“I don’t know about any of you, but I’m not getting on any flight that has a number that includes 5, 4, 9, and 1 anytime soon. What a bizarre coincidence.”

So, if we can’t be informed by these coments, at least we can certainly be entertained…

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Todo mundo é especialista

Sempre acho divertido ler ou ouvir notícias de acidentes ou incidentes aéreos. Não me entenda mal. Não é que eu goste de uma tragédia. O que me faz rir são os comentários desinformados feitos por qualquer Zé Mané que a imprensa encontra nos arredores do evento. O que diabos de informação pode me passar alguém que presenciou o acidente mas não tem absolutamente nenhum conhecimento técnico para analisar o fato? No máximo, dá para saber o que a pessoa sentiu ao ver o acidente, nada mais do que isso. Por outro lado, dá para rir bastante.

Por exemplo, uma aeronave da empresa Delta fez um pouso de emergência no aeroporto JFK esta semana, de acordo com as notícias que você pode ver nos links acima, supostamente porque uma das rodas do trem de pouso não desceu quando comandada pelos pilotos. Um dos passageiros a bordo fez um vídeo do pouso, que está circulando pela Rede; assista ao vídeo acima, e veja os comentários que  ele desencadeou.

Então, se os comentários não são informativos, pelo menos são uma grande fonte de diversão…

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Plane crash in Venezuela

A plane crash usually attracts audience, so as soon as one happens, it’s all over the news. Let’s say you’ve read the headline above, about an accident that happened today in Venezuela: what questions would you expect the article to answer?
  • Who? Who was involved?
  • What? What happened (what’s the story)?
  • Where? Where did it take place?
  • When? When did it take place?
  • Why? Why did it happen?
  • How? How did it happen?
  • Read the articles and watch the video below, taken from various sources on the Internet, and try to answer those questions. After that, would you ask any other questions?

    Remember: pilots have to be able to ask questions about aircraft accidents and also to report them to the authorities if necessary.

    CARACAS — Fourteen people were killed in a plane crash in Venezuela Monday, a local governor said, adding that 33 people had survived the accident and another four were yet to be accounted for. The Conviasa Airline plane was en route to the resort city of Isla Margarita when it went down about six miles (10 kilometers) from Puerto Ordaz, carrying 47 passengers and four crew.

    At Least 4 Reported Dead in Venezuela Plane Crash – VOA News13 September 2010 – Officials in Venezuela say at least four people have been killed in a plane crash in the eastern part of the country. Local officials say there are at least 21 survivors in the crash of the ATR-42 owned by state-run airline Conviasa.  The plane was carrying about 50 people and was traveling between the island of Margarita and the industrial city of Puerto Ordaz when it went down, crashing on the property of the state-run Sidor steel mill near Ciudad Guayana. The local governor, Francisco Rangel Gomez, says the pilot had sent out a distress call, but the cause of the crash is not clear.

    At least 13 killed in Venezuela plane crash – 2:06pm EDT – By German Dam – PUERTO ORDAZ, Venezuela (Reuters) – A passenger plane owned by Venezuela’s state-run airline Conviasa crashed with about 50 people on board on Monday, killing at least 13 as it came down just outside a steel mill. The ATR-42 plane was on a domestic route between the Caribbean island of Margarita and the southern industrial city Puerto Ordaz when it crashed near the gates of the vast Sidor mill on the banks of the Orinoco river. “We still don’t know the exact cause,” local governor Francisco Rangel Gomez told state TV, adding that the pilot had radioed warning the plane was in difficulty. “I hope we are able find more survivors.” Jose Bonalde, head of fire services and the scene, told Reuters that 13 corpses had been removed from the plane. A nearby Puerto Ordaz hospital received 21 injured people and two corpses from the crash site, where twisted and charred wreckage of the turboprop plane was still smoldering after the mid-morning accident. Hospital director Yanitza Rodriguez said many of the survivors were seriously injured. Gomez put the number of survivors at least 23. He said 51 people were on the Conviasa flight, while Transport Minister Francisco Garces earlier had said 47 were on board. ATR, which makes 40-70 seat twin-engined turboprops, is a joint venture between Airbus parent company EADS and Italian aerospace group Finmeccanica. Officials said the crash did not cause any injuries or damage to Sidor’s installations. “The plane fell on a waste area where they put barrels of unused steel materials,” governor Gomez said. In the last major crash in Venezuela in 2008, another ATR-42 belonging to private local airline Santa Barbara with 46 passengers on board crashed into mountains, with no survivors. The Conviasa plane was flying flight number 2350 and carried the registration YV1010.

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    Português é fácil porque…se fala como se escreve

    Bom, isso é o que os alunos falam quando sentem alguma dificuldade em relação à pronúncia de alguma palavra em inglês. Isso porque eles se deparam com palavras como though /thôu/, thought /thót/ e rough /rãf/, e ficam frustrados. Como é possível as mesmas letras agrupadas – ‘ough’ – terem sons tão diferentes? E a combinação ‘ea’, então? Nossa, eles não param de reclamar. Bear /bér/, clear /clíãr/, break /brêik/. Como? Como?! Aí vem a fatídica frase: “português é fácil porque se fala como se escreve”.
    E então eu digo a eles: Verdade? /ver.dá.dji/ É mesmo? /mês.mu/. Olha, aí já são dois exemplos /ezêmplus/ de /dji/ que /ki/ isso /íssu/ não acontece /akontéci/. E que tal /táu/ falarmos de casa /káza/ e sapo /ssápu/? Ou quem sabe amor /amôr/ e amo /ãmu/?
    Bem, então lembre-se de que português só é fácil para você porque é sua primeira língua! Se tivesse nascido na China, você acharia mandarim baba!

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    Portuguese is easy because… you pronounce is as it’s written

    Well, that’s what students say when they have some difficulty with the pronunciation of a word in English. That’s because they are faced with words like though, thought and rough and get frustrated. How is it possible for the same letters put together  – ‘ough’ – to sound so different? And what about the cluster ‘ea’? They just go on and on about it. Bear, clear, break. How come? How come?! Then comes the fateful observation: “Portuguese is easy because you say it just the way you write it”.
    That’s when I say: Really? Is that so? And I show them a lot of examples of words is Portuguese that present the same challenge as some words in English.
    Well, so remember that Portuguese is easy for you just because it is your first language! If you had been born in China, Mandarin would be a piece of cake!

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    Expression of the week: deixar pra lá

    This week I decided to start our “Expression of the Week” secttion from the other end. The expression “deixa pra lá” in Portuguese may be expressed in a few different ways in English, so here they go:

    “Deixar pra lá”

    English equivalent: “let it go; never mind; get over it”.

    Sample sentences:

    “People said some horrible things about her, but she just let it go”.

    “Can you help me with the dishes?”    “What?”   “Never mind, I’ll do them myself.”

    “I can’t believe she dumped me for that guy!”  “Get over it! You’ll find a new girlfriend soon enough.”

    I’m sure there are more ways to say this! If you know of any, please let me know!

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    Typical pilot mistake: “emergency”

    If you’re a baker, you should know how to pronounce the word “bread”. It might be useful to know how to pronounce “burnt”, just in case things don’t happen as they should. If you’re a teacher, you’ll know how to pronounce “mistake”, after all you’ll be teaching human beings; a dentist will certainly know how to pronounce “cavity”, for cavities are quite an important part of their job… Can you see where I’m going?

    In my 11 years teaching pilots, I’ve always been baffled by the fact that a lot of you don’t know how to pronouce the word “emergency”. Of course, no one wants an emergency to happen to them. But as far as I know, airline pilots have to undergo flight simulator training once a year, and I’m pretty sure you practice a lot of emergency procedures there… And don’t you think this word might come up during your ICAO test interview? And what if you need to use it when flying abroad?

    Well, to end this problem once and for all, let us all say it together: /i.mãr.djãn.ci/. Again! /i.mãr.djãn.ci/. One more time for good measure: /i.mãr.djãn.ci/.

    Very good! Now, let’s hope you never have one in real life!

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    Se você é padeiro, deve saber como se pronuncia a palavra “bread” (pão). Também pode ser útil saber a pronúncia da palavra “burnt” (queimado), apenas para o caso de as coisas não saírem como planejado. Se for professor, você sabe como pronunciar “mistake” (erro), afinal dá aulas para humanos; um dentista certamente sabe como falar  “cavity” (cárie), pois cáries são uma parte muito importante de seu trabalho… Vocês estão vendo onde quero chegar?

    Em meus 11 anos treinando pilotos, sempre fiquei impressionada com o fato de tantos de vocês não saberem como se pronuncia a palavra “emergency”. É claro, ninguém quer ter uma emergência. Mas até onde eu sei, pilotos de companhias aéreas tem que passar por um treinamento anual no simulador de voo, e tenho quase certeza de que vocês praticam muitos procedimentos de emergência lá… E você não acha que esta palavra pode aparecer na sua entrevista da prova da ICAO? E se você precisar usá-la quando estiver voando fora do país?

    Bom, então para acabar com o problema de uma vez por todas, vamos dizer todos juntos: /i.mãr.djãn.ci/. De novo! /i.mãr.djãn.ci/. Mais uma vez para arrematar: /i.mãr.djãn.ci/.

    Muito bom! Agora, vamos torcer para você nunca ter uma na vida real!

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    That’s not what I meant: used to

    Who doesn’t have problems with false cognates or words what seem to mean one thing and actually mean another? I thought I could bring you examples of this kind of problem in this new section of the blog called “That’s not what I meant”, because that’s usually what happens: you say something and people just go “what?”. And then you realize that they understood something very different from what you thought you said; actually they understood exactly what you said, only it was not what you meant…

    Our first example is a classic: used to. I can’t say whether this happens to speakers of other languages (please holler!), but Brazilians tend to use “used to” when they actually mean “usually”. This became very clear today, as I was working a booth in a very interesting event where I’m working as an interpreter.

    The speaker decided to speak English, and her English was quite good, except she said “company A used to do things very well”. One of the members of the audience asked her “used to”? And she said, “yes, used to”. As a Brazilian listener I could easily tell she meant “company A usually does things very well”, but as I was not interpreting at the time, there was nothing I could do to avoid this miscommunication.

    And that’s why, folks, it’s very important to learn and practice vocabulary, so you usually (at least) say what you mean to say!

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    Quem não tem dificuldades com falsos cognatos ou palavras que parecem ser uma coisa quando na verdade querem dizer outra? Pensei em trazer exemplos desses problemas nesta nova seção do blog, chamada “That’s not what I meant” (“Não foi isso que eu quis dizer”), porque é isto que normalmente acontece: você diz algo e as pessoas ficam com cara de interrogação. Aí você percebe que elas entenderam algo muito diferente do que você pensou ter dito, só que você não queria ter dito aquilo…

    Nosso primeiro exemplo é um clássico: used to. Não sei se isso acontece com falantes de outros idiomas (por favor, manifestem-se!), mas os brasileiros tendem a utilizar “used to” quando na verdade estão tentando dizer “usually”. Isso ficou muito claro hoje, quando eu estava na cabine de um evento muito interessante no qual estou trabalhando como intérprete.

    A palestrante decidiu falar inglês, e o inglês dela era bastante bom, só que ela disse “company A used to do things very well” (a empresa A costumava fazer as coisas direito). Um dos ouvintes “used to”? (costumava?) e ela disse, “yes, used to” (sim, costumava). Como uma ouvinte brasileira, percebi claramente que ela queria dizer  “company A usually does things very well” (a empresa a costuma fazer as coisas direito), mas como eu não estava interpretando nesse momento, não pude fazer nada para esclarecer o mal-entendido.

    E é por isso, pessoal, que é muito importante aprender e praticar vocabulário, para que você normalmente (pelo menos) diga o que quer dizer!

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