How can I say I’ve seen the World, when I haven’t seen Brazil?
With these words etched on his traveling conscience, Michael Palin prepared to head to Brazil for the first time, to film the documentary “Brazil With
Michael Palin”. If you still haven’t watched the BBC travel legend’s programme on Brazil, now might be a good time to tune in.
Aside from being incredibly insightful, it also serves as reminder that English speakers are few and far between in Brazil. Really far. Remember that less than 1% of Brazilians are deemed fluent in English and only 5% have a basic knowledge. Augusto, the English teacher who appears with Palin in Episode 1 serves as a solid reminder of this fact, as he tours the northeastern city of Sao Luis with our English protagonist.
Our favourite quotes – from Augusto’s “Glossary of girl-watching, full of fruity metaphors” are:
“The girl has eh big bum… call-ed melon woomang”
“And watermelon… bigg… [Augusto, lost for English vocab, points at his right cheek]…..”. “Big hips?” offers Palin. “or big buttocks?”. “Yes”, says Augusto, seemingly having understood neither of those words.
Bundinha. Butt or bum. Being the diminutive word of bunda i.e. a small bum, it is generally used for being complementary about a person’s (typically a womas’s) behind.
Melancia. Water melon. A fruit of choice on the beaches of Brazil. Also used to describe the body shape of a woman with slim body but a large round bundinha.
Fiz Ingles / Fiz Português. I took English / I took Portuguese. In Brazil, this doesn’t mean you actually know how to speak it fluently! Or even at all. Just that (maybe once) you took a lesson.
Pereira. Pear. Often used to describe the body shape of a woman whose bundinha gives her body the shape of a guitar.
Forró. Pronounced fo-ho, forro is a type of music especially popular in the northeast of Brazil. Rumoured to originate from the English “for all”, it is more likely an abbreviation of the word forbodó, coming from “Forrobodó” (itself a corruption of fauxbourdon). Forró iis also a style of dancing, danced in pairs, usually very close together and this is how you dance it.
-inho / -inha. Substitute this for the o/a/e at the end of a Portuguese word to make it diminutive. For example:
Gato (cat) -> gatinha (kitten, or a hot girl).
Café (coffee) -> cafezinho (a small or quickly drunk coffee)
Camisa (sleeve) -> camizinha (small sleeve, also slang for condom)