Sesame, the plant made famous by Arabian folk tales, animated puppets, hamburger buns, and spa treatments (or Asian cuisine), is also a source of misunderstanding between Portuguese speakers on both sides of the Atlantic.
While both variants recognize the word [o] sésamo, in BP the word [o] gergelim is also used in reference to the plant, its seed and its oil extract, and it is probably the word you’ll read/hear the most in Brazilian sources. In Portugal, only [o] sésamo is common, therefore that’s the word you should remember when you read (this time – and unlike kaki – it’s the EP word that shares an etymology with its English counterpart, making things slightly easier to remember).
When pronouncing [o] sésamo, don’t forget the rules about the sounds of s I’ve written about before; the first s should sound like /s/, the second like /z/.
Just in case you’re wondering, both the usual Portuguese and Brazilian translations of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves translate “Open Sesame!” the exact same way: Abre-te, Sésamo! (lit. “open yourself, Sesame”). Some things change, others stay the same.
- [a] semente: seed
- [o] óleo: oil (any kind of oil that’s not olive oil)
- [o] azeite: olive oil