Partly because of some work I’ve recently been reading more Latin, Italian and Portuguese. “More” is actually a lie in the latter case–I know bugger-all Portuguese–but from my slightly less vague knowledge of other Romance offspring it’s quite easy to delude myself that I have the gist of things. And there’s lots of marvellous imperialist claptrap on GB on which to conduct translation experiments, as well as the odd old dictionary.
Here’s a serendipitous excerpt from a moralising tract published in the 1810s, Roda da fortuna, onde gira toda a qualidade de gente bem, ou mal segura by one José Daniel Rodrigues da Costa. It’s about those compatriots of Vasco de Gama who, instead of waiting morosely for decay to take its toll, deposit their earnings at the store or tavern at the end of the week and launch themselves joyously into one of those undocumentable voyages of self-discovery:
You will see in all of them four types of wine: pork wine, lion wine, monkey wine, and child wine. Pig wine makes the drunk fall asleep without being aware of it. Lion wine causes him to defy everything he encounters and then fight the furies, but [something uncomplimentary]. Monkey wine makes him laugh a lot in his intoxication and generally get up to monkey tricks. And child wine leads him to weep as the binge gets underway.
“Macaco” might be better translated as “macaque”–like drunks, they have red cheeks. This pist-list must surely be a parody of the fifty-odd medicinal wines described by Dioscorides, and its classificatory zeal is far more impressive than languages like Dutch or English, where “drunk as a pig” is usually sufficient. However as you can see I’m struggling with the detail. Here’s the original for anyone with a hand to lend:
Alguns homens ha, que não contão com a doença para a reserva que devem fazer, esperando-a; e até faltando a si, na saude, em cousas muito essenciaes; porque quanto ganhão na semana o vão depositar na adega, no armazem, ou na taverna, e sahem d’alli parecendo-lhes, que ninguem os conhece, quando elles he que estão desconhecendo todos. Em todos elles verás vinho de quatro qualidades, que vem a ser vinho de porco, vinho de leão, vinho de macaco, e vinho de criança. Vinho de porco figura-se no bebedo, que se pÃµe logo a dormir, sem dar acordo de si; vinho de leão figura-se n’aquelle, que em estando attestado, desafia tudo o que encontra, e quer logo brigar com furias, mas paradas de sandeiro; vinho de macaco figura-se n’aquelle, que lhe dá a bebedeira em rir muito, e fazer muitas macaquices; e vinho de criança figura-se n’aquelle, que se pÃµe a chorar em quanto lhe dura a bebedeira.
- Luna de almendras amargas
So interested was one in the almonds: … that one failed to see perceive twixt the branches: … the incipient eclipse: Most of the
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Death to the cochineal beetle and doom to the ecologists!