So you think you understand Portuguese?

February 10, 2010

Check these three short videos.

The first shows an ice-cream salesman in Praia do Futuro, a beach of Fortaleza, one of the main cities of the Northeast region (seen before on Eyes on Brazil).

The second is a poem recited by a gaúcho (from the Southern state of Rio Grande do Sul) in full regional attire.

The third is a scene of a classic Brazilian movie – “Tristeza do Jeca“. Jeca, the character interpreted by Amácio Mazzaropi in several movies between the fifties and the eighties, is a caricature of the caipira, the illiterate guy from the countryside of São Paulo. In this scene, Jeca is visited by the sons of the landowner,  and we can see the contrast between two worlds and two expressions of the Portuguese language.

Brazil, like any country of large territory, has a huge range of accents. The way we articulate the vowels or the intonation can vary dramatically. In São Paulo, where I come from, we tend to have an Italianate accent, thanks to the huge immigration of Italians in the late 19th and early 20th century. Rio, on the other hand, was the capital of the Portuguese court and kept some characteristics of the language as spoken in Europe.

Also, vocabulary, slang and idioms vary between states, social and age groups or educational level.For example: the fruit known in English as sugar-apple (Annona squamosa, in case you are wondering what’s the scientific name) is called fruta do conde in Rio, São Paulo and the Southern states, ata or pinha in different parts of the Northeast, and araticum in the extreme South state of Rio Grande do Sul.

Now, tell me the truth: could you catch anything said in these videos?


One comment

  1. The vendedor blew me away, didn’t watch the gaucho. Loved Jeca’s “R’s which I’m quite familiar with…but yeah, um saco pra entender.

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