A Letter in Portuguese

When in Morocco last year, I atruck up a friendship with an young expatriate there from Guinea-Bissau. The instant forging of the bond between us was that I knew something about his native Portuguese creole language and that I cited a proverb from Haitian creole.

he and I were speaking French at the time and, telling him I was hungry, I turned to the Haitian proverb Sak vid pa debou (An empty sack cannot stand  up). There  is apparently an equivalent in Guinea-Bissau Crioulo.

He recently asked me via Instagram if I could write him a letter of invitation for a visit to the US.  Diasporans and the otherwise exiled, refugees economic or not, will know how important that is.

Here is my reasoned response, in rather stilted Portuguese.


É uma época terrível para vir para os EUA.

Por causa de cobiça, provavelmente você ficaria em quarentena por 14 dias às suas custas. Além disso, o período pós-eleitoral aqui será caótico, motins nas ruas, etc.

A minha própria residência nos Estados Unidos é problemática. Eu fui um insoumi durante a guerra no vietnã. Uma carta-convite minha pode não ter nenhum efeito positivo.

Tudo isso para dizer que você deve pensar duas vezes sobre seus planos de viagem.

Por mais difíceis que sejam as coisas em Marrocos, seria melhor ficar lá ou voltar para Guiné-Bissau. Essa é a minha opinião de qualquer maneira.

Melhores votos a Solimão, sua esposa, e ao novo papai.

Passage on Darija Deleted from OHLC JPCL Review

There are two historically divergent dialects of Arabic in contact, the pre-Hilarian, dating from the initial Arab invasions and rooted in the coastal trade centers; and the Hilarian, resulting from a 12th century renewal of Arabic via Bedouin migrations during the Almorad dynasty. The Moroccan vernacular, Darija, is nternally varied but distinct from and in continual contact with Standard Arabic. There are also Berber (Amazigh) substrata and three European languages involved, distributed geographically and sociologically and overlaying the Arabic and the Amazigh mozaics (Mrini and Bond 2018). French and Spanish affected Moroccan Arabic differentially during different phases of colonialism and today English is in the mix. Moreover, younger Moroccans in urban areas code-switch compulsively in SMS messages, often using the Roman alphabet with additional  numbers for Arabic letters (3 for ‘ayn and 7 for ḥā, among others). French is still the language many prefer to talk about things romantic or intimate, this out of a sense of propriety (Hall 2015, pp. 112-121)

Charting the influences and acts of identity on any given speech act in