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Thanks for nothing

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A sneak peek at the new Eat Rio site! Coming soon soonish…

 

Afternoon all! Well, the new website is coming along nicely, but I’ve pretty much given up on the idea that it could be ready in time for carnival. In the meantime we’ll all just have to make do with the current, somewhat ‘busy’, layout.

Normally at this time of year I have just one thing on my mind: Carnival. The official start of carnival is just 2 weeks away, but there are already plenty of pre-carnival events going on such as technical rehearsals at the Sambodrome on weekends and various blocos dotted around town. With carnival come turistas, most of them estrangeiros and as most of these foreign tourists don’t speak Portuguese, they have a bit of a challenge on their hands.

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interruptions

Interruptions and Interjections

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When I first arrived in Rio, I naively thought that once I had a good grasp of Portuguese my communication woes would be over. What I went on to discover is that the actual language is just part of the challenge. The rules of conversation here are quite different.

While a certain amount of interruption is common in English, I found that Cariocas take the art of interruption to new heights. These interruptions were pretty annoying at first – I would be trying to describe some event or experience but the person I was talking to wouldn’t let me finish a sentence! And even when the person I was talking to was listening attentively, someone else would come along and barge in with their own topic with little regard for the fact that we were already speaking about something else!

I later found that Cariocas (this may or may not apply to Brazilians in general) have a suite of verbal tricks to counteract the constant interruptions:

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highland-calf

Brazilian Body Slang

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Homem Camarão image source

 

People can be cruel can’t they? They can also be pretty hilarious and at times the line between the two can be oh so slender. Just the other day I was absentmindedly listening in on a conversation between Mrs Eat Rio and one of her friends (let’s call her Maria) when I heard something strange. The conversation was focussing on one of Maria’s ex-boyfriends who, according to the conversation, had been rather dull and a complete gym-freak. What Maria said next caught my attention – she described the guy as a camarão.

“A camarão?” I thought to myself, “He was a shrimp?”. What could that possibly mean? Was his skin a strange shade of orangey-pink? Or perhaps he was kind of stinky? Wrong! It turns out that this is a way of referring to someone who has a tasty body but an ugly face. So, so cruel…(but also made me chuckle).

This set me off wondering what other funny phrases there are to describe people’s body parts. Turns out there are quite a few:

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I-got-you-this

I pooed and walked…

If I were feeling particularly pretentious creative, I might choose to describe learning Portuguese as being like an epic journey with no end. At the start there is the excitement of heading off into the unknown, when every step is accompanied by some new and exciting discovery (think Bilbo as he sets off from the Shire).

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I’m off on an adventure! A language adventure!

 

Later on you realise how far you have to go, you hit frustrating obstacles and exhausting uphill sections. Staying with the metaphor (apologies), there are also those great moments when you can look back and enjoy the view, realising how far you’ve come and how much you’ve achieved.

And (still with the metaphor) then there are the times you stumble across something truly odd, half-hidden on the side of the track. You pick it up and turn it over in your hand. ‘What is this?’ you ask your befuddled self. Well I discovered one such linguistic oddity just a few weeks ago.

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batidas

Batida

The Brazilian drinks menu, just like its food counterpart, can hold some surprises (and the odd chuckle) for people new to Brazil. Today I thought I’d take a quick look at a few of the things that might not be immediately obvious to newcomers.

Hi-Fi

The Hi-Fi is one of  the first items listed under the heading Coquetéis (Cocktails) on many drinks menus. When I first asked about this I was told it was a vodka and orange. “Isn’t that called a screwdriver?” I asked. Well in my opinion the answer is basically “yes, it’s the same drink”,  though cocktail purists will tell you that a Screwdriver is made with real orange juice, whereas a Hi-Fi is made with ‘orange drink‘.

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Vodka + orange = Hi-Fi = Screwdriver

 

Blood Mary

Staying in the cocktail section, most menus list the classic vodka, tomato and Worcestershire sauce cocktail as “Blood Mary” (instead of BloodMary). At first I wondered what had happened to the “y”, but then I heard a Brazilian say “Blood Mary” out loud – it sounds like Bludgee Mary. No need for the “y”! In fact the letters K, W and Y aren’t used in real Portuguese and were only added to the official alphabet in 2009 in order to be used in foreign words.

 

Gim Tônica

You don’t get much more English than a good Gin and Tonic do you? And Brazil’s climate is perfectly suited for this most refreshing drink! Here in Brazil however you will usually see it written as “Gim Tônica”. Again, the rules of Portuguese language are behind this spelling.

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