Portuguese Memory Book

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Portuguese Memory Book

A New Approach to Vocabulary Building

By William F. Harrison and Dorothy Winters Welker

Clever mnemonic jingles to help learn Portuguese vocabulary.



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6 x 9 | 119 pp.

ISBN: 978-0-292-73106-6

Mnemonics is an age-old device for remembering names, numbers, and many other things. The Portuguese Memory Book, by William F. Harrison and Dorothy Welker, makes use of this reliable memory help in a series of mnemonic jingles that are by turns playful, sardonic, touching, and heroic to help both students and independent learners acquire and remember Portuguese vocabulary.

The mnemonic jingles present both the sound of the Portuguese word (indicated by syllables in underlined boldface type) and its English meaning (given by a word or phrase in boldface type):

noite (f.) night

Don't annoy Chihuahuas in the night.
If you ignore their bark, you'll feel their bite.

This innovative approach to vocabulary building is simple, effective, and entertaining. The authors also include a general pronunciation guide to Brazilian Portuguese, particularly to the Carioca dialect of Rio de Janeiro.

  • Introduction
  • How to Use the Portuguese Memory Book
  • Conventions Used in This Book
  • Vocabulary
  • Final Examination
  • Answers to Final Examination
  • Appendix: Guide to Pronunciation
  • Glossary

This book will introduce you to Brazilian Portuguese, the language spoken in the South American country of Brazil. Many Portuguese dialects are heard in that vast country. Of these, the Carioca dialect of Rio de Janeiro is one of the most popular, and is the dialect that is used in this book.

In dealing with any new language, one of the first things you will want to do is to acquire a stock of useful words that you can recognize and pronounce easily. The Portuguese Memory Book shows you how to accomplish this task quickly and effortlessly. It enables you to recognize many Portuguese words when you see or hear them (passive vocabulary), and to recall these words when you speak or write (active vocabulary). Although the Portuguese heard in Portugal is somewhat different from that of Brazil, you will be able to understand the peninsular version after you have become familiar with Brazilian Portuguese.

The Portuguese Memory Book is about vocabulary, and vocabulary only. That is why it can help you learn vocabulary so fast. It is not a textbook on grammar. If you are interested in learning Portuguese grammar, you should consult a teacher of Brazilian Portuguese or a good grammar textbook.

The Portuguese Memory Book shows you how to use mnemonic devices to learn vocabulary. A mnemonic device sets up an association between a new word and one or more familiar words that enables you to recall the new word easily. Mnemonic devices are not new, of course; they have been used for centuries. We still call upon them every day to help us remember names, numbers, and many other things: "Spring forward in the spring; fall back in the fall" is one example. The mnemonic devices used in the Portuguese Memory Book are short jingles that present the pronunciation of a Portuguese word along with the English meaning of that word. They fairly jingle the new words into your memory.

Research has shown, surprisingly enough, that the more far-fetched, even absurd, a mnemonic device is, the better it helps you remember. You will probably agree that many of the jingles in the Portuguese Memory Book qualify for high marks in absurdity. You will enjoy learning and applying them.

The Portuguese Memory Book contains mnemonic jingles for more than 500 words useful for conversation and reading. Most of these words have been culled from the American Coun cil of Education's A Graded Word Book of Brazilian Portuguese (Brown et al., 1945), a standard work that is still a valuable compendium. Additional words were taken from contemporary textbooks.

caneta: pen
Duncan ate a grasshopper, and then he took a pen
And wrote his Ma he never would do such a thing again.

cansar: to tire
It tires me out to see the congregation
Applaud this icon, Sergeant Carr's creation.

cantar: to sing
Her smiles con Tarzan into singing
And start his great gorillas swinging.

cara: face
My car again has lost a race.
It just exploded in my face!

careta: "face," grimace
Oscar ate a fish somewhat decayed.
He said no word, but what a face he made!

carga: load, cargo
Our car galumphed along the road
Till we could dump our grisly load.

carinho: love (n.)
To show your love, careen Eulalia's boat and paint the hull.
But guard it from the calling-card of every passing gull!

carne (f.): meat
—The car Neal sold me smells of rancid meat.
—He used to peddle burgers on the street.

William F. Harrison is Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese at Northern Illinois University. The late Dorothy Winters Welker was retired from the University of Illinois, Chicago.

"To my knowledge, this is a unique and joyful approach to the teaching of vocabulary. The Portuguese Memory Book will be useful not only to beginners of Portuguese, but also to the many Spanish speakers in the U.S. who would like a quick and painless way to add Portuguese to their language skills. The authors know what they are doing."
—Jon S. Vincent, Professor of Spanish and Portuguese,University of Kansas, Lawrence

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