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)

Very Common Phrases in Brazil – 2 for 1

Back when I was living in Brazil in 2005, I heard two phrases all the time, several times a day, it seemed. At first, I had to catch on to what the phrases were and then I tried to understand the situations in which they were used. Not too long after that, I got sick of hearing them. Fast forward a good amount of time, and now I use them! lol.

So what are they?

Faz o seguinte…” (Do the following…)


O que acontece, é…” (What happens is…)

then there’s the double whammy, “o que acontece é o seguinte…” (What happens is the following…)

One may wonder why I would get sick of these phrases so allow me to explain. Americans are a pretty ‘do-it-yourself’ kind of people, very individualistic, independent, etc…so when I found myself in tough situations and even average everyday situations, I wanted to deal with them myself. Everytime I tried to insert my American ways into the situation, I would get blindsided by everyone around trying to help me out of a jam, and like clockwork, they would spout out these phrases while doing so. Once I understood the cultural context of these phrases, that’s when I stopped getting annoyed.

If there’s one lesson I can instill in anyone traveling to Brazil (or any other country), it’s ‘don’t get mad when things don’t go your way, it doesn’t mean things are worse off than they are in your own country, it just means it’s different.’