Tamates
Posted: 21 December 2014 07:50 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Recently I was reading some of L. Sprague de Camp’s science fiction stories set in a future in which Brazil has become the dominant power on Earth, and so Brazilian Portuguese is the lingua franca on Earth and in the spaceways.  In some of the stories, Tamates! is used as an exclamation of exasperation, frustration, anger, etc., in much the same contexts that Damn! or Shit! might be uttered.

Does anyone know if this is an exclamation used in present-day Brazil (or Portugal)?  If so, what does it literally mean? ("Tomatoes"?) Is it some kind of minced oath?

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Posted: 22 December 2014 02:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I’m friends with a native speaker of Brazilian Portuguese on Facebook, as well as being married to a fluent speaker.  I’ll toss the question out there.

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Posted: 22 December 2014 03:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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My Brazilian source does say that in certain areas of Brazil tomate is the equivalent of English balls.

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Posted: 22 December 2014 08:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Thanks.  De Camp definitely spells it with an a as the first vowel.  Is it an irregular plural (or for all I know, a regular vowel change in Portuguese)?

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Posted: 22 December 2014 11:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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There are several versions of a cream of tomato with egg which uses an “a” as the first vowel.

Crema De Tamate Con Ovo

subtitled: A classic Portuguese tomato soup.

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Posted: 22 December 2014 04:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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My source is quite knowledgeable about language in general and about Portuguese particularly and he claims never to have heard it, but he admits that it may be.

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Posted: 22 December 2014 05:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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The official spelling is definitely with -o- in both singular and plural.

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Posted: 23 December 2014 02:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Which, of course, does not mean a science fiction writer can’t propose a language shift or be mistaken.

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Posted: 23 December 2014 06:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Of course.  I (mis?)spent much of my youth reading sf, and I am well aware of both the virtues and the failings of sf writers.  I read a lot of de Camp, but not these particular stories.  That I remember… (a caveat I must always add now that I’m edging into the land of dotage).

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Posted: 23 December 2014 06:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Oecolampadius - 22 December 2014 11:16 AM

There are several versions of a cream of tomato with egg which uses an “a” as the first vowel.

Crema De Tamate Con Ovo

subtitled: A classic Portuguese tomato soup.

Are those several versions on English language sites?  I ask because of the misspelling of “com” as con, as well as
the strange spelling of tomate.  I am not expert on Portuguese spelling, though I do speak the language.  Having lived and worked in both Portugal and Brasil, I’ve never com across tamate.

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Posted: 23 December 2014 10:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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De Camp was a very erudite man, though of course it’s not impossible he made a mistake, or that the misspelling is due to the book editor or typesetter.  It’s even conceivable that he misspelled it deliberately, in case Miss Tarrant (John Campbell’s notoriously strait-laced editorial assistant) checked a Portuguese-English dictionary that listed the naughty sense of tomates.

(John Campbell was the long-time editor of Astounding, in which I assume the majority of these stories first appeared.)

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Posted: 24 December 2014 01:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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It occurs to me to wonder whether there is any regional Portuguese accent in which the word is pronounced as tamate? if there were, people with that accent would presumably still spell it in the standard way, so it would not appear in writing.

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