Rethinking Phrases

There are some phrases in Portuguese, like any other language, that perhaps need some rephrasing. One of them is “fazer o quê?” which is sort of like a rhetorical way of saying “well, what do you want me to do about it?” Perhaps a better phrase would be “o que fazer?” While the first phrase suggests inaction, the second one suggests action.

Likewise, there’s another phrase (I mean, verb) which is “esperar“. When you wait for something, you may feel rather imprisoned by the feeling, as if someone else must act or something else must happen for that hope to turn into something real and tangible. Here, I suggest “esperançar” as a replacement. Over at Mitancunhã, a blog where I found the topic being proposed, the author references a song by Aldir Blanc called “O Bêbado e a Equilibrista” where one of the lines says “esperar sentados, porque em pé cansa” (“wait sitting down, because standing is tiresome”). The author continues to say that “if by waiting, we’re invited to sit, hoping invites us to dance” and “if waiting means standing still, hoping means to be already on one’s way”.

I’m sure all languages could benefit from a bit of rethinking in order to inspire its speakers to ask “why not?” instead of “why?” but who knows, maybe language used to be less cautious but human behavior somehow made our speech dictate our actions…or vice-versa.

More Info

Mitancunhã (in PT)

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2 thoughts on “Rethinking Phrases

  1. But “fazer o que?” e “o que fazer?” are different. As you said, the first implies inaction. There’s nothing else I can do. Also as said, it’s rhetorical. I am not asking for suggestions. While in the second one I am saying “could you help me figure out something?”.

    • Exactly. Perhaps people could start to say the action phrase more and the inaction phrase less. Just an idea. “Fazer o quê?” can become a crutch if used too much. In any event, my intent is not to pick on Brazilians but just to get some wheels turning on the subject. It’s sort of like how in English when someone says “I can’t”, a response might be “you can’t or you won’t?”

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