english (was: Link to Bankaccount portuguese tutorial)

Jecel Assumpcao Jr jecel at merlintec.com
Mon Jun 14 14:26:33 UTC 2004

On Saturday 12 June 2004 23:54, David Farber wrote:
> At 06:38 PM 6/12/2004 -0300, you wrote:
> >We need to form some task force to translate to Portuguese:
> > 3) Smalltalk (though most people don't agree with me on this one)
> When I was in Brazil, I couldn't get anyone to speak Portuguese with
> me; they all wanted to practice their English!

That is what I would have expected, but you must realize that this was 
an extremely biased sample. I have often been to meetings where the 
speaker or one of the guests is from an English speaking country (or 
sometimes from the U.S. ;-) and always afterwards the five or six 
people who think they speak the language reasonably well crowd around 
that person while the majority, who couldn't utter a single word in 
English to save their lives, shy away.

This list and the IRC channel are also self selecting in this way. I 
would probably have a difficult time with English too if I hadn't 
happened to live in the U.S. between the ages of 8 and 13.

> auto pára.
> ;)

I didn't say it was easy. As soon as I got a copy of the blue book in 
1984, I translated all of Smalltalk to Portuguese (anyone have a way to 
read Apple II floppies?) and "self" was the hardest problem of all, and 
I did settle on "auto" which is lame.

English is a far more ambiguous language and Smalltalk takes full 
advantage of that. I have posted about the problems before, but here is 
a quick summary:

- undefined gender, so "tree new" and "rocket new" are both valid (while 
you might use "nova" and "novo" in Portuguese).

- verb/adjective confusion, so "x copy" could be "x cópia" (adjective) 
or "x copiar" (verb). The "self" problem is related to this too.

- possessive subphrase order fits unary messages, so "car door handle" 
is valid Smalltalk while "trinco da porta do carro" isn't.

There is a lot of experience in using English vs Portuguese Logo in 
schools, but you might argue that having a translated eToys would be 
the equivalent to the latter. I think it would be a pity if the 
language barrier were to limit kids to what is essentially just an 

-- Jecel

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