Avery Ashwillbrazil 2013


An Open Letter to an Entity Unlikely to Respond Published on October 9, 2012

Dear Portuguese,

You haunt my dreams at night. I wake up in cold sweats wondering how I’ll begin to decode you. You’re like Spanish’s drunk sister, or Italian’s less rhythmic mother, or French’s brother who caught a cold. You make me feel like I’ve got 27 marbles in my mouth, while chewing gum, as I humbly attempt to string together all the o’s and the a’s.

You’re hard on your speakers. You let eight year olds run around calling a fork in the road a bifurcation because you never really let go of your latin roots, you mama’s boy. You’ll put a hat on your ê, or give it a spiked hair stylé or leave it bald depending on your mood. There are something like 16 different verb tenses and you’ve left me struggling with the concept of a future subjunctive tense, as I come from a language where we don’t worry about “expressing future time after certain conjunctions.”

There seem to be no rules embedded in you, Portuguese. You’re carefree, beautiful, and lazy. Sometimes you try and take shortcuts but you’re only making it harder on yourself. Don’t you know there are people out there wondering why the words for “but” and “more” are pronounced the same but spelled differently? Are you aware that you’ve truly outdone yourself with the secondary pluperfect verb tense? And did it dawn on you that perhaps the use of an acute accent, a circumflex, and a tilde is a bit excessive?

I digress. If French is the language of love, well then, Portuguese, you’re the language of lust. You’re hot, heavy, hard to read and even harder to understand. Like a beautiful man or woman you stun me with your curves and knock me off balance with your tone. You’re the cat that’s got my tongue; the one track in my mind. I find myself dreaming of speaking with you and feeling deflated after another day lost in translation. But I’m fixated on you, Portuguese. I’m like the creepy girl in the hallway that makes you shudder because she can’t get enough. I’m determined to learn you. And frankly, Portuguese, you don’t know what you’ve gotten yourself into, because in six months time, I’ll be the one throwing you around.

Your friend without benefits,


There are 28 comments by other visitors:

  • this is awesome. hope you’re enjoying yourself!

    Response shared by Hannah — October 9, 2012 @ 11:38 pm

  • If this is what being to subscribed to your blog means then COUNT ME IN. Still lolin!

    Response shared by Reg — October 9, 2012 @ 11:41 pm

  • Danielle Livneh

    Awesome. Can’t wait to hear your hot and heavy Portuguese back in California!

    Response shared by Danielle Livneh — October 10, 2012 @ 12:55 am

  • Avery, this is fabulous! You don’t know me – I went to high school with your mom and saw this on her Facebook page. I’d like to ask your permission to share this with my students at Prairie View A&M. I think it’s a wonderful way to enter the discussion of language variation.

    Response shared by Terri Pantuso — October 10, 2012 @ 1:23 am

  • Oh it can’t be that hard, calm down.

    Very nice post though.

    Response shared by m. pasch — October 10, 2012 @ 1:24 am

  • All I can say is wow! I’m in awe of you. Love you, Jane Hill

    Response shared by Jane Hill — October 10, 2012 @ 1:27 am

  • Wow! I am speechless?..

    Response shared by Jenny — October 10, 2012 @ 1:56 am

  • Tengo tanto orgullo de ti. Felicidades. Me hiciste reír y casi llorar a la vez. Tu superpoder es la curiosidad.

    Tu cuate,
    Kevin Gillion

    Response shared by Kevin Gillion — October 10, 2012 @ 2:12 am

  • Nice post, Avery!

    Response shared by Jamie Ryan — October 10, 2012 @ 2:55 am

  • Gorgeous and lively. Bravo!

    Response shared by Francesca Segre — October 10, 2012 @ 3:19 am

  • Natalie Davidson

    This was a thoroughly enjoyable read. Thank you Avery!

    Response shared by Natalie Davidson — October 10, 2012 @ 6:28 am

  • You so got this, Avery! Love hearing about your adventure and beautifully written! Xoxo Mitzi Easley

    Response shared by Mitzi — October 10, 2012 @ 9:46 am

  • Avery,
    I know you can do it! Stay focus and you will be speaking the language like you were born there!!

    Much Love,
    Aunt Net

    Response shared by net_graves@yahoo.com — October 10, 2012 @ 1:11 pm

  • Apple Juice: This is an extraordinary piece of writing! As a writer myself, I marvel at your nervy style and take-no-prisoners approach to what might have been a boring topic. Your words are your sword, and you wield it mightily at such a tender young age. Write on! {Hope you’re following Madison’s and Ian’s great adventures, as well.}

    Response shared by Tim McClure — October 10, 2012 @ 2:16 pm

  • How do you blow me away? Oh let me count the ways…Yet there is not enough room in this commet box to even remotely express how thoroughly impressed I am at the woman you have become. I dream of being like you when I grow up. Perhaps you’ll be the lyricist to Liam’s music. You most certainly will be the muse to many, and I consider myself to be one of them.

    Thank you for your prose, humor, intelligence, and passion for what you believe in. I can’t wait to see how you will change the world.

    With love & awe,

    Response shared by Kathy Benayoun — October 10, 2012 @ 4:07 pm

  • Avery, This is stunning. Thank you for brightening my day!

    Response shared by Cathy Boyd — October 10, 2012 @ 5:10 pm

  • This is why you are the Queen By Default.

    Response shared by bobbymurph@gmail.com — October 11, 2012 @ 6:27 am

  • Abby Lindsay

    Avery that was great!!! I hope to hear you spewing that beautiful language in April :)

    Response shared by abby — October 15, 2012 @ 4:36 pm

  • I want to write like you when I grow up. Love, a former English teacher

    Response shared by Shanna Weiss — October 16, 2012 @ 12:09 am

  • Mary Kate Mueller

    YESYES and yes.

    Response shared by yaow — October 16, 2012 @ 7:55 pm

  • This was beautifully written, your truly an amazing writer! I´m sure all of us in Brasil can agree with your saying.

    Response shared by Yohanna — October 17, 2012 @ 2:12 pm

  • Devani Santos

    I remember the good ole days when you read this to me, on my bed in Capao, in that cute voice of yours… Oh, how you’ve flourished, amor.

    Response shared by Dev — October 17, 2012 @ 3:04 pm

  • Avery,
    I was blown away by your post! I just completed a short letter. Will send in the a.m.

    Response shared by Jean Ashwill — October 18, 2012 @ 2:59 am

  • Kim Asenbeck

    go avery.

    Response shared by Kim Asenbeck — October 18, 2012 @ 7:11 pm

  • I love this post!
    Thank you!

    Response shared by Sandra — October 19, 2012 @ 12:17 am

  • Aidan Holloway-Bidwell

    Wish i could write like this! Nice job

    Response shared by Aidan Holloway-Bidwell — October 28, 2012 @ 5:51 pm

  • Avery, we have yet to meet, but your mother told me about your blog. I lust to learn Portuguese as well! I hope to meet you when you return from your travels.

    Response shared by Christine — November 9, 2012 @ 5:11 pm

  • Emily Hwang

    thank you for this!! you are so great

    Response shared by Emily Hwang — November 17, 2012 @ 12:05 am

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