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My question is about my favorite Brazilian song, "Trem das onze", which I'm sure practically everyone here knows. Where i live (Israel) the song is well known, there was a radio music program in the '80s that had it as its opening tune, and it also has a popular Hebrew version.

I am trying to understand the original lyrics. The translation I found here is quite understandable, except for one issue: the song starts with addressing a woman (probably a girlfriend?) in the second person: "Não posso ficar Nem mais um minuto com você", but in the second verse it says "E além disso mulher Tem outra coisa", translated as "And beyond that woman there are other issues". Assuming the translation is correct, I don't understand who "that woman" is - is it the woman addressed in the first verse? Or another woman? or does the translation lose something from the original meaning?

If it is the same woman addressed in the first verse, is it normal to use "disso mulher" for a woman one is talking with (second person)?

I must confess that my knowledge of Portuguese is virtually zero, so any further explanaton of the oyrics would be welcome.

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  • 1
    Oh, that song! I was very popular in village balls back in the seventies and eighties were I grew up (in Portugal).
    – Jacinto
    Oct 6, 2018 at 12:04
  • Recently I saw someone claiming it's clear it is all lame excuses of someone trying to run away from an unsuccessful romantic chance encounter: "it is late, my mom will worry, I am an only child, yada yada ..." I think that given the time (mid 60s) it is possible there is really someone which needs to care for an elderly parent and is limited by pubic transport. Can someone offer a more informed opinion on the subject???
    – pepster
    Aug 28, 2023 at 2:08
  • Hi, pepster, welcome to Portuguese StackExchange! You raise an interesting read on the music, but you posted it as an answer. It would better fit as a comment.
    – Schilive
    Aug 28, 2023 at 2:55
  • To give you my two cents. In my experience, it is pretty common for people to feel responsible for their parents' safety and even feel like they are not good at defending themselves. I have seen it specially with mothers. Also, he may need to work the next day and not everyone wants to stay the night with their girlfriend. They may not even be that intimate. I think, though, that he does want to stay, but feels he cannot because of his obligations, given the song's "sad" melody.
    – Schilive
    Aug 28, 2023 at 3:01
  • And beyond that, woman, [direct address], there are other issues. Your parse is wrong and so is the online translation. beyond or besides works here.
    – Lambie
    Aug 28, 2023 at 15:32

2 Answers 2

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"Beyond" is not a good translation for "além" in that case.

The correct translation is,

And besides that, woman, there are other things.

He is adressing the same woman, and telling her that, besides the fact that there is no other train to Jaçanã before the following morning, there are other problems to be taken into acount.

So there is no "disso mulher" as an expression (it cannot be, because "mulher" is feminine and "disso" is masculine; the correct expression would be "dessa mulher"). There should be a comma between the words; "besides that, woman" (besides those problems, woman"), not "besides that woman", which would imply a second woman, and is probably the source of your perplexity.

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  • Technically, “disso” is neuter, while the masculine form is “desse.” But because the neuter is very very restricted in Portuguese (to three words and their contractions: “isto”, “isso” and “aquilo”) it may not be recognised as such by native speakers. In any case, these words cannot refer to a concrete person — which would be either “esse” or “essa” — but only to a clause (there to be only further trains to Jaçanã the next morning).
    – Wtrmute
    Aug 29, 2023 at 18:45
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There are better translations than the one you found.

The specific verse you ask about can be improved with a comma (even though it's still not the best translation - it should be besides instead of beyond): "And beyond that, woman", since he refers to the same woman addressed in the first verse. And, no, that's not a usual way to address a woman these days, tough I'd say it was more common back then.

The translation this site offers is:

I can’t stay
Not even another minute with you
I am sorry, love
But it can not be

I live in Jaçanã
If I miss this train
That leaves now at 11 PM
Only tomorrow morning

And besides that, woman
There’s another thing
My mother doesn’t sleep
Until I get home
I’m an only child
I have my house to look after

Another translation can be seen here, but many others can be found.

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  • I would prefer: "I'm very sorry, darling, but it can't (or cannot) be", "my mother won't go to sleep until I get home" "I'm an only child and I have a home to look after."
    – Centaurus
    Oct 14, 2018 at 1:32
  • @Centaurus I also prefer your version. But it's not just about choosing the best words: lyrics is poetry, so a good translation is in practice a new poem. And it's even more complicated to make the translated version respect the melody, if it's to be sung, instead of just explain the meaning.
    – stafusa
    Oct 14, 2018 at 8:22

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