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Pior do que eu não há.

Discussion in 'Português (Portuguese)' started by beginner-1, Feb 22, 2013.

  1. beginner-1 Junior Member

    Geneva, English
    This is from a Fado song

    Pior do que eu não há.
    What does that mean?

    Worse than me there.
    Worse than that I be there
    Worse than that I am there

    Could any one kindly explain me please.

  2. Eduardo Rodrigues

    Eduardo Rodrigues Senior Member

    Portuguese (BR)
    None. The subject in English must always be shown in the sentence, but the same doesn’t occur in Portuguese. First, to your translation:
    “There isn’t [anyone] worse than me."
    Now, to the explanation: If it's raining outside, one says "It rains outside". What is raining? "It". Therefore, "it" is the subject of the sentence.
    In Portuguese, however, one says "Chove lá fora". That is, the same as in English, except for the subject: there's none! That is, the subject is undetermined. This is one case of the subject.
    Your sentence, though, has a subject. Let's look it up:

    Período (simples): Pior do que eu não há. (lit. Worse than me there isn't.)
    Sujeito (elíptico): Ninguém.
    Verbo (e seus modificadores): (não) há = 3ª pessoa do singular do presente do indicativo do verbo "haver".
    Objeto indireto (e seus modificadores): pior do que eu; pior = adjunto adnominal; eu = núcleo do objeto indireto.

    So, the subject is "ninguém" = anyone (neg.) or none (aff.). The difference is, since Portuguese is a highly inflective language, which is a major characteristic of Romance or Neo-Latin languages, there's no big deal in hiding the subject of the sentence or getting syntactic terms out of direct order: the sentence will not only still make sense, but it'll gain some literary status as well.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2013
  3. Joca

    Joca Senior Member

    Florianópolis, Brazil
    Brazilian Portuguese
    Não sei, mas talvez fosse mais "natural" dizer: Nobody could be worse than me.

    Quanto à segunda frase: But not even this/that makes any sense.
  4. Eduardo Rodrigues

    Eduardo Rodrigues Senior Member

    Portuguese (BR)
    Pensando outra vez, permita-me corrigir-nos neste aspecto: Nobody could be worse than I.
    Em português, a oração II seria a adverbial comparativa subordinada à oração I. Em inglês:
    I. I am bad.
    II. Nobody could be worse.
    I + II. Nobody could be worse than I (am).
    Isto é, se than for conjunção, II é a comparative clause. Assim, o pronome adequado é he.
    Contudo, há alguns a a considerarem preposição; dessa forma, já que pronomes oblíquos servem na sentença como object of the preposition, o pronome adequado é me. No entanto, o consenso favorece a primeira alternativa.
  5. Eduardo Rodrigues

    Eduardo Rodrigues Senior Member

    Portuguese (BR)
    Correção: o pronome adequado é I.
  6. Alandria Senior Member

    Brasil - São Paulo

    Será que não cabe:

    There's no one worse than me

    There's no one bad like me

    Last edited: Feb 27, 2013
  7. Eduardo Rodrigues

    Eduardo Rodrigues Senior Member

    Portuguese (BR)
    Leia o seguinte:
    “In formal English, than is usually regarded as a conjunction governing an unexpressed verb: he does it far better than I (do). The case of any pronoun therefore depends on whether it is the subject or object of the unexpressed verb: she likes him more than I (like him); she likes him more than (she likes) me. However in ordinary speech and writing than is usually treated as a preposition and is followed by the object form of a pronoun: my brother is younger than me.” (referência: Collins English Dictionary, nota de uso em busca de termo: than)
  8. L'Inconnu Senior Member

    'Pior do que eu não há'

    So, to summarize the main points:

    1) The use of the subject pronoun 'I' (eu) instead of 'me' (mim) after 'than' (que).
    2) The use of 'não há' to mean 'nobody is' or possibly 'there is no one who is'.
    3) The order of the sentence elements is confusing to English speakers. Namely, putting 'worse than I' in front of 'nobody is'.

    (1) Well, as Eduardo pointed out, 'que' is a conjunction and is therefore is followed by a subject pronoun. Whereas, English speakers can't decide whether the word 'than' is a conjunction or a preposition. Viewed as a conjunction, 'than' is followed by a subject pronoun such as 'I', 'He', or 'She', etc, just as it is in Portuguese. Viewed as a preposition, 'than' is followed by an object pronoun such as 'me', 'him', 'whom', etc in a similar manner to how the French do it.

    (2) Wouldn't the sentence have been clearer if the poet had used an indefinite pronoun such as 'ninguém'?

    (3) Why not say 'Ninguém é pior do que eu'? Is the sentence order used in the actual song/poem grammatically correct or is it just poetic license?
  9. Eduardo Rodrigues

    Eduardo Rodrigues Senior Member

    Portuguese (BR)
    Yes, it would've. But notice that he used the pronoun 'I' (eu), which we presume is 'somebody'. If (eu) isn't neither a place nor a thing, then (eu) can only be compared to someone else, which is this case is 'no one'.

    In my first reply to this thread (it's the second reply), I said that "Portuguese is a highly inflective language" as it is a Romance language, thus word or sentence order is much freer than that of Germanic languages, for instance (which doesn't mean word order isn't of any importance at all). So, "Pior do que eu não há" is equal to "Do que eu pior não há", as well as to "Não há pior do que eu". Of course, Subject + Verb + Object is the common, usual, "normal" word order in the Portuguese language too, but it isn't limited to it: the part of the sentence one wants to emphasize one puts at the beginning of the sentence. For that reason, yes, it is grammatically correct.

    Also, in English the subject must always be shown in the sentence, isn't it? The same is not true to Portuguese (and other Neo-Latin languages): there are the implicit or elliptical or even occult subject (sujeito implícito, elíptico ou oculto), the undetermined subject (sujeito indeterminado), the nonexistent or inexistent subject (sujeito inexistente), and the passive agent (agente da passiva), which even some native speakers confuse with "subject". Because of this, one could say that "ninguém" is hidden, implicit, elliptic in the sentence. In fact, it is: "Não há (ninguém) pior do que eu". As a matter of fact, hiding subjects and altering sentence order is much more unexceptional and less poetic than one may think.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2013
  10. L'Inconnu Senior Member

    Omitting the subject may serve a useful poetic purpose.

    "Não há pior do que eu"

    The above phrase could have more than one translation in English.

    (1) ''There is NOTHING (in the whole world) worse than me.''
    (2) ''There is NOBODY (who is) worse than me"

    Statement (1) is much broader, and has the effect of diminishing even further the person's value.

    My point is that leaving a phrase ambiguous leaves it more open to interpretation.
  11. Eduardo Rodrigues

    Eduardo Rodrigues Senior Member

    Portuguese (BR)
    Read the following:
    Gustavo é um ótimo aluno. Melhor (aluno) do que ele não há na classe.
    A 'student' is obviously a human person. There's no ambiguity concerning this: the subject of the former sentence is mentally reiterated in the latter. That is, because of an antecedent, the provided context eliminates any ambiguous meanings the subsequent would possibly bear if standing alone. That sort of context the thread author did not provide when first asked for its translation. Despite the sentence being seemingly ambiguous, it may also not be if its background be presented and taken in consideration.

    Indeed it does. Portuguese, Castilian, Occitan, Galician, French, languages of Iberia, Gallia, they were once regarded as languages of trobadours, in which poetry and language were intimately linked, particularly by euphony (Greek for pleasantness of sound). Colocação pronominal*, inversion (aiming to emphasis), non-repetition of words and omissible sentence parts may all be looked upon as essentially literary qualities, and yet formal Portuguese practices as well.

    *no English equivalent found; it can be described as the the disposition of object pronouns about the verb, which consists of three possible arrangements: 1. próclise (proclisis): the object pronoun before the verb [SIZE=3](e.g. [I]Não [U]m[/U][/I][SIZE=3][I][U]e[/U] [B]venha [/B][/I][SIZE=3][I]com suas desculpas[/I])[SIZE=3]; 2[SIZE=3]. ên[SIZE=3]clise (en[SIZE=3]clis[SIZE=3]is)[SIZE=3]: immediately after the verb [SIZE=3]- some[SIZE=3] c[SIZE=3]ases [/SIZE][/SIZE]with, o[SIZE=3]ther[/SIZE] without hyphen (e.g. [I][B]Lembr[SIZE=3]ei[/SIZE][/B]-[U]me[/U][/I][I] [SIZE=3]de quando ain[SIZE=3]da est[SIZE=3]ava l[SIZE=3]á[/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/I][SIZE=3][SIZE=3][SIZE=3][SIZE=3])[SIZE=3]; [SIZE=3]and 3. mesóclise (meso[SIZE=3]clisis)[SIZE=3]: between the ver[SIZE=3]b [SIZE=3]infinitive fo[SIZE=3]rm and termination (e.g. [I][SIZE=3][B]Procur[/B][SIZE=3][B]á[/B]-[U]lo[/U][SIZE=3]-[SIZE=3]í[SIZE=3]amos [SIZE=3]to[SIZE=3]dos, [SIZE=3]contudo devemos assi[SIZE=3]stir nossos feridos pr[SIZE=3]imeiro[/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/I][SIZE=3][SIZE=3][SIZE=3][SIZE=3][SIZE=3][SIZE=3][SIZE=3][SIZE=3][SIZE=3][SIZE=3]).[/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE]
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2013

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