February 28, 2012

This is our regular column called Ask a Brazilian”, the idea being that you can quite literally ask a question of a Brazilian – for those issues you aren’t sure about but perhaps dare not ask someone else. It is meant as a bit of fun and answers should not be construed as expert opinion or the definitive reply on the matter. For that reason we ask you to please send your own comments and experiences in order to add to our replies.

Why don’t Brazilians ask for things politely, rather than demanding (Give me a coke. I want beef. Get the keys. Get the towel.) ? I rarely hear please, thank you, I would like, can I have, etc. And when I say these things in Portuguese, people giggle a little sometimes.

— Jennifer

Dear Jennifer,

That’s funny. I guess being polite in Brazil is more about the tone than the words. Depending on how you ask for something, “please” and etc. are automatically implied. Understand what I mean?

For example: Jennifer, pega uma coca pra mim? (Bring me some coke), wouldn’t need a “por favor” at all. Even in a restaurant (for us Brazilians) if you say, “Eu queria uma coca”, (I would like a coke), in a very nice tone, that also has the “please” implied and no one would get mad.

I don’t know… maybe what your ears don’t get in Portuguese are the variants of that tone I’m talking about. Or, if you hear it in a rude sense, “Me d uma coca”, than it’s impolite not to use “por favor, etc”.

As for “thank you”, that also can be substituted by a wink or a smile.

Let me know what you think,

Thank you for coming by,

Vanessa Agricola

I have been living with a Brazilian lady who is incredibly insecure and jealous. Her ex-husband married her and brought her to America and then he cheated on her. His actions destroyed our relationship before it even started.

She gets completely irate if I miss her calls or do not respond to a text immediately. When I call her or text her I do not get mad or upset as I understand that she is working and is busy or she would answer. I have to work, and on the rare occasion I’m in a meeting and can’t answer or respond she literally freaks out. She calls me names, says I’m not where I said I am, always has to know were I’m at exactly at all times, not that it matters. It’s the Spanish inquisition I have to go through. She has accused me of looking at other women when she is, and has been, the apple of my eye since the day we met, and would if we lived to be a thousand. I cannot even go to the gym and workout it’s unbelievable… What’s worse, she is absolutely beautiful and I tell her that everyday as many times as possible… I am not trying to paint a perfect picture of myself because I am not. I do wrong, but I do not lie or cheat period. We do not do things with other couples or in groups because she always finds something to get upset about. It really doesn’t bother me that we do everything together as I enjoy her company immensely. If I tell her to go shopping with her friends she automatically thinks I have something planned.

I do almost everything for her. I do all the cooking, I pick up after myself, clean things that need to be. I come from a strong military upbringing where duty, honor, integrity, loyalty, health, & respect are the foundation of my beliefs.

I have never experienced this insecure, jealous, & possessive behavior in my entire life. I can’t take it anymore.

— Matt


Your trust is overwhelming, Matt, thank you.

I will try to tell you about Brazilian jealousy. I say try because to be honest I don’t know much about it.

I can see Brazilian man aren’t trusting with blind eyes, also that Brazilian woman are in a state of alert, I can see that going on here, but what you describe, to me, is much more than I can see.

Let’s say women are emotional, have hormones, can go mad, and Brazilian women can go twice as emotional than that… Even so, again, no one is the same. If your girlfriend has some bad history with some bad man (Brazilian or not), you are not that man (you’re not even Brazilian! :). As a human, she should be able to move forward and trust someone, humans should be able to do that, don’t you think? Even Brazilian woman should be able to find peace in a relationship, I think.

Hope you find yours,

Vanessa Agricola

Readers comments:

First off, it sounds like Jennifer is working here in Brazil as a waitress or in some other area of the hospitality industry and secondly has not yet got a full grasp of the Portuguese language and the very subtle nuances in its day-to-day use. I’ve been living in Brazil for ten years and I do not agree with her in the least. I find Brazilians extremely polite. It is not always what the individual says as much as the manner and tone in which it is spoken that gives it a sense of politeness or rudeness. Having said that, I also can’t count the thousands of times I’ve heard Brazilians saying “por favor, por gentileza, fazendo favor, pode, lamento mas… and obrigado or obrigado eu”. The way that many Brazilians say some things clearly implies ‘por favor’ as you rightly pointed out, others still use it anyway. In many English speaking countries conservative tradition and a sense of properness have a much more rigid influence on the spoken language – please and thank-you almost become obligatory. I would suspect that Jennifer is from one of those cultures. I believe that her misunderstanding is more likely based on the cultural differences than any other factor. She’ll catch on in time, I’m sure.

— William

In my own personal experience I have found Brazillian men to be extremely jealous, and for the first time in my life having to ‘lay down the law’ in relation to how I expect my man to behave. (For example, you cannot punch the man serving you at the petrol station simply for looking at you!) I have had to explain that jealousy is unacceptable, insulting to our relationship, the honour and love we have grown, and that it is a sign of a less aware and developed personality. It’s not as prevalent now… such situations don’t upset him like they used to. I guess that’s what security in a relationship delivers. I choose to trust my partner when we are apart, for 3-4 months on end, and it has served us well. I don’t think all Brazillian men are cheaters… I think this is changing, with younger men anyway… but the jealousy thing is widespread across the entire social group of men I have met here. They openly admit it. They even admit that their own jealousy has ruined their relationships to people they love! Oh, and in relation to the other post… I am one of the lucky ones… I have my car door opened for me, my door locked from the inside if he sees the door is unlocked as we are travelling, and my wonderful ‘number’ insists on paying for our meals and outings. But he is lucky too… because I have taught him that it’s OK to be modern and let me pay sometimes also. There’s nothing sexier than a person who still has their integrity, inner power and does not allow their relationship to define their life… these wonderful things are what brought them together in the first place.

— Anon

Are there any burning questions you have about Brazil, or other issues that you’re curious about, such as Brazilian culture? If so, send your questions to gringoes@www.gringoes.comwith “Ask a Brazilian” in the subject. We will forward to our Brazilian experts, and publish the best questions (and replies) on the site.

Previous articles in this series:

Ask a Brazilian: Men
Ask a Brazilian: Couples and Separate Rooms
Ask a Brazilian: São Paulo Safety
Ask a Brazilian: Jealousy
Ask a Brazilian: Nails and Spanish
Ask a Brazilian: Tipping
Ask a Brazilian: UK Visa Issues
Ask a Brazilian: Gossip
Ask a Brazilian: Real Estate Scam
Ask a Brazilian: Lacking Change and I Touch Myself
Ask a Brazilian: Tampons
Ask a Brazilian: A Brazilian CV
Ask a Brazilian: Gender Stereotypes
Ask a Brazilian: Answering a Question
Ask a Brazilian: Revoked Visa
Ask a Brazilian: Pedestrian Problems
Ask a Brazilian: Trash
Ask a Brazilian: Tiles
Ask a Brazilian: Headlights
Ask a Brazilian: Differences and Love
Ask a Brazilian: What Do the Police Do?
Ask a Brazilian: Contractor Frustrations
Ask a Brazilian: English Books and Brazilian Boys
Ask a Brazilian: Cold Cahaca
Ask a Brazilian: Interruptions
Ask a Brazilian: Travel and Security Concerns
Ask a Brazilian: Gestures and Toys
Ask a Brazilian: Hispanics or Latinos, and Duvets
Ask a Brazilian: Overbearing Sogros
Ask a Brazilian: Hotels and Bank Transfers
Ask a Brazilian: Swimming, Showers and New Year’s
Ask a Brazilian: Making Friends
Ask a Brazilian: Female Etiquette
Ask a Brazilian: Washing Machines
Ask a Brazilian: Picking Teeth
Ask a Brazilian: Lozenge or Candy?
Ask a Brazilian: Liberal or Jealous?
Ask a Brazilian: Truck Wheels
Ask a Brazilian: Tolerance
Ask a Brazilian: Screens
Ask a Brazilian: Brazilian Wax
Ask a Brazilian: Flashing Lights
Ask a Brazilian: Lemon and Limes
Ask a Brazilian: Shocking Showers

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply