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Monday, 07 March 2011

Creative language

It's Carnaval here in Brazil. From Friday last week through to Wednesday afternoon this week, absolutely nothing happens here, except the inevitable sequins, feather boas and samba. Business is closed. A few supermarkets remain open, but for limited hours.

I wanted to get industrious this morning. It's not often I get free time at home. I cleaned out the cat litter, then took the bag of dirty litter upstairs to put any dog doo-doos into the bag. I've only fallen on those steps once since moving in here, which, in itself, is remarkable.

This time, I was clever enough to fall UPstairs. I somehow managed to smash both big toes into a step at the top. On my left foot, the toenail is split up the middle and one half is lifted *throb throb* On the right foot, the toe is bruised. How the heck did I manage that? Oh... and cat litter over everything, me included. Jurgis was a great help cleaning up, while graciously trying to hide his laughter. I broke out in some creative language.

This is where I'm eternally grateful for my Afrikaans heritage. No one swears quite like the ou tannies (old aunts) and oomies (uncles).

"Blikskottel!!" It came out hard and loud, not once, but a few times. Jurgis piped up with "Why blikskottel and not blikemmer?" I don't know. It was just a 'skottel' moment somehow.

  • blik - tin
  • skottel - cooking pot or basin
  • emmer - bucket

Not my photo! "Old tin bucket." Photo by {JO} / Flickr

The old Afrikaners were very conservative, both in their lifestyle and their language. Of course, they had their fair share of frustrations. I imagine that burning the daily loaf of bread that took hours to knead, rise and bake must have inspired some fairly creative language. I know it would have done so for me. 'Bliksem' is another word one will frequently hear. It's really 'lightning'. 'Donner' was one I heard a lot as a child, meaning 'thunder'. Somehow, hearing 'donner' was a lot worse than hearing 'bliksem'. Not sure why. It was usually used as an adjective, a bit like 'darn' or 'damn'. "Daai donnerse kat!" translates to 'that darn cat'.

"Voetsek!" Oooh, I love that word! It's a little like 'go away' or 'get lost', but the sense of it is quite untranslatable. It's a word used when a person or animal (I used it on HRM today) is really annoying you. The tone in which it's said also speaks volumes. Generally, when using this term in a foreign country, people look at you oddly, but get the gist of what you're saying by your tone and body language... or because they pretty much know they're being annoying and expect you to tell them to go and climb trees.

I wanted to do a video blog on the subject for a few reasons. One is that I bullied poor Kerry into speaking on her videos, but mainly to give you the sounds of the Afrikaans words. I also needed to test the cam. It hasn't been coming on when I needed it lately. I think my usb connections are funky. I need the cam for some of my Skype classes. I got it working now, but HRM decided he was finished playing with his gate (he periodically takes it apart to refinish it, just because he can) and has come inside. No way will I do a video blog with him in around. I'm not enough of an exhibitionist. Besides, when typing, I can gleefully talk about him. It's rather hard to do that when talking, as he listens to every word.


  1. Well, I hope that video is just on hold and not canceled, cuz I'd love to HEAR the words!! :)

    I'm sorry you fell. :( Those are really steep stairs, and I bet when they're wet, they're about deadly! I'm not even sure I COULD walk down them, with my screwed up knee. *whew* Hope your toe heals quickly, especially with all the walking you have to do for work.

  2. Those stairs are worse than mine...and sorry you fell on them. I'm always a little worried I will too. Over daai donnerse kat.

  3. Ouch! Hope you have some opened toed shoes for a few days! You should give yourself a little credit, though. Only the truely uniquely creative folks can fall UP stairs...;-}

  4. That sounds SOOO PAINFUL, and one of those lingering pains too. Hope you heal before having to venture out too far. Looking forward to the video!

  5. Those are some scary, scary steps and whether you fall UP or DOWN it was NOT fun I bet, although falling UP is a great story LOL
    I imagine that carnival there is like Derby here or Mardi Gras, you do get tired of parts of it when you live with it, but still, it sounds wonderful and fun!

  6. It was the same in my family. I was allowed to say "Bliksem", but "Donder" (your 'donner' or 'thunder') was a definite no-no.

    Falling UPstairs is something I have done too when I still lived in a house with stairs. Somehow I forgot how large my feet were and placed them too far to the back of the steps. That hurt like "bliksem", lol!

    It's carnaval here too but mostly in the Catholic south of the Netherlands. There shops are closed and life is only about loud music, dancing, fancy dresses and beer.
    Here up north, where I live we don't see a thing about it. We're too protestant for that ;)

    Hope your feet will heal quickly! Take care!

  7. Eina! Im sorry to hear you fell up the stairs! Sounds like a "kerry moment" to me... Funny to reminisce with the Afrikaans words ;) We tried using "voetsek" on animals here... neighbourhood dogs... a few pesky possums... seems they don't understand anything other than "Australian English" here {sigh} What's with that? "Bliksem" has always made me larf...

  8. Wow, those stairs look pretty #$@%*#& steep.

    I would so much like to experience carnaval... sounds like such a joyous time.

  9. Now them are some steps! :)

  10. Hope your week is good and if you attend the carnival will enjoy very much

  11. Isn't there a railing? I'd have to crawl up those steps. Coming down?...I'd probably just stay up there.

  12. Kippy, I got a bit of video in, which I'm uploading, but hadn't gotten to the Afrikaans yet. I'll have to do another video for that. Those stairs are lethal when they're wet because they get moss-covered virtually overnight.

    Kat... laughing here at 'over daai donnerse kat'. Too funny. You're a quick learner ; )

    Deb, luckily it's still summer here, so open shoes are the only option. Now to keep my feet from out of under my husband's big feet and the dog's claws.

    Maggie, it was tears-to-the-eyes painful. I'm ok, as long as I'm careful how I walk.

    Marty, I was terrified of them at first. Apparently the ducky who lived here when they were installed use to go up and down on her bum. I'm used to them now. I don't like carnival, to be honest. If you click the link at the top of the blog, you'll see my older carnival blog. Been there, done that LOL

    Riete, the proper spelling would be 'donder'. 'Donner' was written much the way we say it and yes, it's a no-no. I have absolutely NO idea how I managed to mash my toes on the steps. I have rerun my moves in my mind over and over and I'm still clueless. It's always strange to me to hear of carnival in places like Holland : ) I can't imagine it. I think it would be very different to the carnival here somehow.

    Kerry, I hope you don't have too many of those 'moment's! Laughing at your Aussie animals. I use 'voetsek' here more for my own sense of satisfaction. Makes me feel 'powerful' *grins*

    Bert, you got that right! Carnival here isn't so much joyous as a time to let go of any remote inhibitions they have the rest of the year ; )

    Cheryl, yes, them are some steps! I've attended carnival once and am not likely to repeat the experience. I love quiet too much.

    Kat, there is no need for a railing really. The wall on the one side is rough and provides a great grip... if you use it =Þ

  13. oh awwwwwwwww..those steps look very easy to fall down or up..

  14. Oh yes...if you have a sore toe, its like there is a target on it for everyone to bump it or step on it. Since both your toes are hurt, well, good luck! You are gonna need it!

  15. Tori, they're surprisingly easy once you're used to them. I don't fall often, which is a surprise in itself.

    Deb, that same day, the dog stood on my toe - think dog claw - ouch! And my husband backed up onto that foot. I nearly killed him! lol It's healing up well now. I'm lucky that way... my body heals fast : )


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