Keeping the beach theme we’ve got going on, today I chose a word that’s always important to learn: [o/a] nadador[a]-salvador[a], which is the EP word for lifeguard; if the brackets are confusing, let me explain them: the lemma (uninflected) form of the noun is the masculine [o] nadador-salvador; since this compound word is formed using two nouns (for swimmer and savior/rescuer, respectively), both parts are inflected when we change the noun to the feminine and the plural:
- [a] nadadora-salvadora (female lifeguard)
- [os] nadadores-salvadores (group of all-male lifeguards, a mixed group, or generic plural)
- [as] nadadoras-salvadoras (group of female lifeguards)
We also use a second word for lifeguard, [o/a] salva-vidas (lit. saves-lives), which can also be used in reference to lifeboats (only in the masculine, since it’s a shortening of [o] barco/bote salva-vidas; lifeboat), and can be used as an adjective as well (see previous set of brackets, another example of this usage is [o] colete salva-vidas, lifejacket).
As we saw with [o] guarda-chuva and [o] afia-lápis, verbs are not inflected when parts of compound words; in this case, since this noun is formed by a verb form and a noun already in the plural, it suffers no inflection whatsoever; gender and number are marked using articles only:
- [o] salva-vidas (male lifeguard or lifeboat)
- [a] salva-vidas (female lifeguard)
- [os] salva-vidas (group of all-male lifeguards, a mixed group, or generic plural)
- [as] salva-vidas (group of female lifeguards)
One thing people sometimes don’t realize is how important cultural products are to the understanding of a certain language; literature, cinema, tv and every other kind of pop culture ends up helping you enter the mindset of people who have been enjoying those products since birth.
You can see those differences by comparing the cultural references people have or share; for example, Brazilians have O Sítio do Picapau Amarelo while we have the works of Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen; perhaps most importantly, someone cultural references can be seen through the same cultural product, one that’s foreign to either party and therefore introduced differently in Portugal or Brazil.
Outside of the dubbing/subtitling debate, the cases where this happens the most are in titles of foreign movies/TV series imported to these markets. For example, Baywatch (see, this aside was leading to a connection with the article after all) is known in Portugal as Marés Vivas (lit. spring tides, the term used for the highest tides of a lunar cycle, hapenning twice a month), while in Brazil it is know as SOS Malibu (pretty self-explanatory).