Phrasebooks and chicken hearts

Hello from FISL. 🙂

After a long trip of 20+ hours, I arrived in Porto Alegre yesterday, in need of a nap and a shower. My Centro, which is my organizer as well as my phone, went into a state of low-battery coma, and my USB phone charger cannot seem to rouse it. So the first few hours after my arrival, with none of my notes, were pretty hectic — but all is well now, and I’m looking forward to a good day today.

I was, frankly, unprepared for the sheer number of people who don’t speak English. At all. As a traveller, I always feel vaguely guilty when I’m struggling to communicate in the local language, as though I’m wasting people’s time as I stumble to find the words, and it leads me to be quite shy.

Today will not be like that, because if it is, I will have wasted a lot of time and money coming here. No, I can’t speak the language, and no, not many of the attendees of FISL can speak my language.

Fortunately, today I will have two tools at my disposal:

1. The best phrasebook on Earth. Dennis brought a Lonely Planet Brazilian Portuguese / English phrasebook with him, and it is chock full of awesome. Like “you are a very good dancer,” and “you are only using me for sex” and “I promise that I will call you” and “it’s important to have a sense of humor.” Indeed.

2. eSpeak. I love Festival for the high quality of its text-to-speech work, but the non-English voicings are all non-free, and can be difficult to track down. eSpeak, while a lot less smooth, has *lots* of default languages. Including Brazilian Portuguese. So I’ve got it running on my laptop, hurray.

See, ordinarily I love booth duty, because it means I get to talk to lots of enthusiastic folks. And FISL is *fabulous* because it is a large, vibrant, relatively suit-free show. It reminds me of how LinuxWorld used to be. The problem, though, is that I can’t really participate much without being able to speak even rudimentary Portuguese. Fortunately, the Fedora booth is heavily staffed by Fedora Ambassadors — who we will be treating to a great night tonight, and whose praises I will be singing in a later post — but I’m not adding much value in the ways I usually do, and not really needed in that capacity anyway.

Therefore, I have decided that I will connect as best I can by using my ability to be an amusing idiot. So if you are at FISL later this afternoon, and you’d like real-time, vaguely inappropriate English-Portuguese lessons, as read aloud by eSpeak, come on by and say “bom dia”.

(Oh, also, chicken hearts are incredibly tasty. Spot wouldn’t know, because he’s a culinary coward. I still love him, though.)

(Oh, and I wish I had pics to share, but my Centro was also going to be my phone, and with it on life support, I have no way of taking pictures. I’ll just harass Dennis to take plenty of pics instead.)

(And one last thing: I miss my wife terribly. She’s incredibly cool, and when I’m away from her for a prolonged period of time, I feel like a bit of an empty glass. Don’t tell her, though, because it would give her a swelled head. She doesn’t read my blog anyway.)

Phrasebooks and chicken hearts

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