“Apanhar” Takes a Beating

“Dictionaries do not always take note of the semantic extensions that the verb “apanhar” has acquired in Portuguese.

When walking on the street and going into a store in any Brazilian city, it’s hard not to hear enunciations every once in a while like “você vai apanhar!” (you are going to get hit!) or “você quer apanhar?” (do you want to get hit?), as they are frequently said loudly by parents and those responsible for small children whose behavior in public leaves a lot to be desired.

The verbal interaction between child and adult, in most instances, remains as a threat only because no one physically hits anyone, thankfully. Not even a slap! Until now, I never saw a child respond affirmatively to the question about if he or she wants to get hit or not! A real communicative skill sometimes is to remain in silence. The “question” functions as a threat that leads to nothing.” – Source (in PT)

My Take

At almost the same time that I was considering writing a post on the verb “apanhar”, I came across an article on the matter in the Brazilian magazine, Língua Portuguesa. I learned it is often said in jest or as the article above points out, as a mere threat. My ex-girlfriend, a paulistana, used to say it to me (in jest, of course!) and at the time I didn’t know what the word meant but I understood the gist. Using my Portuguese knowledge at the time, I decided it was or should be reflexive and would use it in such a manner (saying “vou te apanhar”), not realizing I was in effect ‘beating up’ the verb in my own way.

The verb has other meanings, which can be seen on Google Translate or in Portuguese at Wikcionário.

Bolivians Students in SP Being Extorted

“Immigrant students at the Padre Anchieta state school, in Brás (central region of São Paulo), pay a “toll” to Brazilians to not get beat up off the school grounds. The information comes from a report by Raphael Marchiori published in this Tuesday’s edition of Folha.

To feel secure, the foreigners, principally Bolivians, pay with snacks or with what they have in their pockets, even if it’s just R$1. “Otherwise, they get beat up on the outside”, says Mário Roberto Queiroz, 49, history professor and mediator — a function created by the Secretary of Education to work together with the school community to address questions of vandalism, discrimination and violence.

The purchase of “security” was revealed to Folha by students and teachers. The school board itself confirms it. One student and an ex-student, both 16 years old, affirmed that the cases have occurred since at least 2008. “They demand R$1 or R$2. I handed it over three times. On the fourth time, I got beat up”, says one of them, that has been in Brazil for 14 years.” – Source (in PT)