My Brazilian ex girlfriend used to start her ‘what if’ (hypothetical) questions with ‘E se‘ (And if) and while that’s just fine as she was speaking correctly in her own language, she would translate it into English and ask a ‘what if’ by starting with “And if…” which slightly amused me but only because I understood where she was coming from when she constructed the sentence.
Usually an example would come up while watching a movie, where she’d say “e se ele morreu?” and I would respond, “I don’t know, let’s just watch it,” because I’m annoying like that when watching a good film. In any event, the Portuguese hypothetical started to make sense as a way to get to the point, otherwise one would have to say something like “E o que aconteceria se…”
On a side note, my German ex-girlfriend used to say ‘oder‘ at the end of some sentences and from my basic German, I knew that meant ‘or’, which meant in my English-speaking brain that she was speaking strangely. I started then to add ‘or’ to the end of some of my sentences in English to bother her…but I failed because she thought it was normal. Go figure! Later, I found out that the ‘oder‘ tag means ‘right?’
While writing the post on punctuation, I thought about how not knowing the right word sometimes can be really frustrating. One time I was trying to explain to a friend that I needed a razor (lâmina) to shave with and I had never needed that word before in Portuguese so I thought of ‘knife’ and ‘something that cuts’ and to make matters worse, I didn’t know the phrase for ‘beard’ or ‘shave’. What ended up happening was I made the motion of shaving my face and my friend said “ah, quer dizer Gillette?!” and I was thinking, “Right, of course it had to be a brand thing.”
Most of the list below will also be the same brand-name substitutions we use in English…and in the case I can’t think of any other word in English, I’ll just leave the item without their English translation. Last but not least, I’ll provide the pronunciation in Portuguese, which often makes the product unrecognizable to the foreign ear.
Razor – Gillette (jeel-letch)
Copy – Xerox (shayrocks)
Aspirin – Aspirina (aspeerina)
Red Bull (hedjee buw)*
* – Thanks Jan for the comment on this brand. You’re so right!
If you can think of any others, let me know and I will add them! I realize that one could say that the list is potentionally exhaustive but I’ll try to keep it to those words which have lost their connection to the actual brand and therefore have fallen into popular usage. Also, the words that sound different than their English pronunciation will be highlighted.
One of my favorite tags in Italian is “dai” which the blog Dolce Vita explains in the following excerpt,
“Dai” said with an irritated tone can mean “enough” or “stop it”. It can also mean “come on” in all its many forms – impatience, encouragement and the gritted teeth of effort or tension if you’re following you favourite football team in that moment and it’s about time they scored a goal.
“Ma dai” can indicate mild suprise, incredulity or even suspicion that your interlocutor is pulling your leg. It can be a kind of “as if” or “stop having me on”. “Dai” said with a lowered tone and widened eyes will often be found in gossip and can mean “tell me more”!
In Portuguese, ‘vai’ can be used as an informal tag on the end of a statement such as when someone says “me leva, vai!” (c’mon, take me!). Just a hypothesis based on the huge influx of Italians to Brazil during the time prior to and just after the turn of the last century.
In 2007, I was in São Paulo for a month on vacation and it was right about the same time that the Museu da Língua Portuguesa (Portuguese Language Museum) opened at the Estação da Luz train station near the Sá neighborhood of São Paulo. On the second floor, which usually holds interactive exhibits, there was a timeline of the Portuguese language and it ended with a sort of Portuguese shorthand that kids use on the Internet.
However, Internet shorthand isn’t the worst of it, now there’s miguxês (and neo-miguxês), as it’s been deemed. The term comes from the miguxês-ation of the word “amigo”, which in miguxês becomes “migu”. Below, you’ll find all three levels of it, each one worse than the last. Feel free to try out the MiGuXeiToR translation tool.
Miguxês Arcaico (ICQ)
Ex. Isso eh o miguxês!
Miguxês Moderno (MSN)
Ex. Issu eh u miguxês!!
Neo-Miguxês (Orkut, Fotolog)
Ex. IXXu EH u MIGUxXxeIxXx!!!!!