EP word of the week (#18): ténis

Full disclosure: I’m not an ordinary Portuguese citizen: [o] ténis (tennis) is my favourite sport, not [o] futebol (association football/soccer)! In a country where even tennis players and commentators are football fans, and where most news about “sports” are really about association football, this is an opportunity to be once again in the minority (I’ll be able to vent about why I don’t particularly like football some other time, I’m sure).

Returning to the goal of this segment, European Portuguese uses the same word for the sport and the tennis shoe (or any sports shoe in the vein of tennis shoes, especially running shoes) – [o] ténis. When pluralized (a pair of shoes, or at least more than one shoe), the word remains the same: [os] ténis. Other words ending in -s follow the same pattern: [o/s] lápis[o/s] cais[o/s] simples (either one-syllable words with diphthongs or words with their stress on the second-to-last syllable).

Brazilian Portuguese follows the same pattern in terms of the meaning of the words, but the spelling and general pronunciation changes: following a rule I’ve mentioned quite a few times (for example, when discussing the differences between Polónia/Polônia and Colónia/Colônia), here too we see a stressed vowel before an nasal n get a circumflex: [o] tênis (sport); [o/s] tênis (shoes).

In Northern Portugal, [a] sapatilha[as] sapatilhas are also commonly used to refer to sports shoes; everywhere else, those same nouns are used only in reference to gymnastics/ballet shoes.

Related words:

  • [o] ponto: point
  • [o] jogo: game
  • [o] set: set
  • [o] encontro: match
  • [a] vantagem: advantage
  • [o] ponto de jogo: game point
  • [o] tie break: tie break
  • [o] ponto de break: break point
  • [o] break / [a] quebra (de serviço): break
  • [a] pancada: groundstroke
  • [o] serviço: service/serve
  • [o] ás: ace
  • [o] primeiro/segundo serviço: first/second serve
  • [a] dupla falta: double fault
  • [o] amorti: drop shot
  • [o] slice: slice shot
  • [o] smash: smash shot
  • [o] vólei: volley
  • [a] raquete/raqueta: racket
  • [o] court: tennis court
  • [o] piso rápido/duro / [o] hardcourt: hard court
  • [a] terra batida: clay
  • [a] relva: grass
  • [o] Grand Slam: Grand Slam
  • [o] Open da Austrália: Australian Open
  • Roland Garros / [o] Open de França (rarely heard): French Open
  • Wimbledon: Wimbledon
  • [o] Open dos EUA (read Estados Unidos)US Open
  • zero / quinze / trinta: 0 / 15 / 30
  • trinta-zero: 30-0
  • quarenta-igual or iguais: deuce (40-40)

Note: The words and translations written above are in relation to official tennis terminology. While these words can be used for other sports, their meaning may vary: for example, um jogo de futebol is understood to mean a full match, while in tennis there’s always some ambiguity – people who aren’t aware of the appropriate lingo may use jogo for the match in general and not simply a single game, but people who are aware of the difference will either use encontro or believe via context they’ll still be understood regardless

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