A few new phrases in Portuguese

“Quem cala, consente”
(Silence implies consent)


Dedo duro* – Tattletale
Delator – Snitch
X9 – Snitch (“sheesh-novy”, Rio favela slang)

Common tattletale phrase (ie, suborno – bribery)…
“Se você não me dedurar, eu te pago um sorvete”
(If you don’t tell on me, I’ll buy you an ice-cream)

Brazilians, though, don’t have the ‘cool’ phrase “snitches get stitches” (delatores pegam pontos)

* I saw the word on Street Smart Brazil.


A t-shirt that’s one size too small?

“Mamãe, sou forte”
(Mommy, I’m strong)

“Simon Cowell usa camisas “mamãe sou forte.”
(Simon Cowell uses tight t-shirts.)


If you’re learning Portuguese, check out my ebook, 103 Tricky Verbs in Brazilian Portuguese!


One thought on “A few new phrases in Portuguese

  1. I think you have to be very careful when you translate “quem cala, consente” as “silence implies consent.” Consent being the tricky word here. Because in English, in particular in your translation because it does not carry the same cultural background, consent may imply agreement or approval. Although the term in Portuguese also infers agreement or approval, this particular sentence conveys a feeling of passiveness or neglect, therefore the term better relates with the meanings “allow” or “accept” so that the whole sentence when spoken in Portuguese would be mostly be used in situations when “because you didn’t speak up (against it), you allowed something to happen” and most particularly you allowed it to happen even though you don’t agree or approve of the behaviour. Such as, you do not approve of a parent physically punishing a child, but because you don’t speak up (against it), you allow it to happen. You do not agree with a sexist remark from a male boss to a female employee, but because you don’t speak up (against it), you allow it to happen. You do not condone racism or misogyny, but because you don’t speak up against them, you accept them. On one hand, “Silence implies consent” can confuse the listener to think you approve and agree with the behaviour since seeing that you kept quiet you allowed it to happend (or maybe even sanctioned it), on the other hand, in Portuguese, there is no mistake with the word “consentir” when used in this particular phrase as it is only used in situations when someone allowed something to happen because they kept quiet, even though they might be completely in disagreement with it or disapprove it. They didn’t speak up against it and accept that what happened happened they couldn’t do anything. Subtle, but the difference is there. Now, the cultural background is so relevant in this case because, although the sentence seems generic, you lived in Brazil you know… passiveness unfortunately is endemic, an inherited trait of the dictatorship years. “Quem cala, consente” is a way to highlight that this passiveness is not a positive trait at all. “Quem cala, consente” is a very powerful protest phrase. Quem cala, permite acontecer, gostando ou ano.

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