By Mark Taylor
As is inevitable with the English language, it tends to creep into other languages. Of course this slow ingress of English into other languages is well known, having coined the term Franglish”, to describe those words adopted by the French language. English is supposed to have roots in French though, among other languages, so there’s a form of irony over one ingressing back into the other.

Portuguese and everday life in Brazil have not escaped the “contamination”. For good or for bad, the English language seems to be viewed as having this chique quality by some. Perhaps because the US and even the UK have or had such a great influence all around the world, hence it’s seen as the language of power.

One example of this English contamination here in Brazil are fashion T-shirts, that will often have peculiar expressions emblazoned across the front in English. I wonder if the wearer has any idea what they’re “saying” to everyone? English words are often used to accentuate as well, forming a peculiar combination. For example, “Big Limp” is written in 6 foot letters on a wall near our house to advertise the cleaning services of a local firm (“Limp” coming from the Portuguese verb to clean, Limpar. Hence we have “Big Clean”). The firm’s name conjures up, to me at least, the image of a pirate, replete with wooden leg and associated limp, turning up at the door with his vacuum cleaner. Big is an adjective that’s often used, a couple more examples being a local Bingo to us, Big Bingo, and the now extinct supermarket simply called “Big”.

Examples of noun forms can also be spotted, such as “Mega Sleep” (a bed shop). Sleep is the word in question of course, as although Mega is slang for great, cool, or amazing, in Portuguese it actually means large. Let’s not forget “Shopping Centers” as well, which is often contracted to “Shoppings” by Brazilians (“Voce quer ir ao shopping?”, which automatically translates to me with a bemused smile as “Do you want to go the shopping?”). Curiously though this is more British English than US English, who tend to refer to shopping centres as malls. Although in a twist of irony Brazilians use the US English form of centre: center.

What other English terms have you found in your day-to-day dealings in Brazil? I’m sure there are many! Let me know by email and I’ll add them to this article.

Readers comments:

I’m a Brazilian and I’m studying English. When I read your article about Portunglish or Engluguese I started to think in all English words we use in Brazil.

Many verbs in English were modified in Portuguese words. We use “deletar” (apagar) to say “delete”; “escanear” (olhar) to say “scan” ; Other words are used all time here in Brazil like: motoboy (a man who rides motorcycle), Free (for sale).

Therefore, many English words are present in our vocabulary

— Patricia Goncalves

I am an Irishman in Brasil, and I too find great bemusement and pleasure in observing the way english words have crept into the lingo here.

One I have noticed a lot of is “brother”, as in “e ai meu brother” = “whats up my brother”, using the english word instead of the portuguese “irmao”. Reminds me of an Irish mate back home who has started a trend of using “gringo” as a term of endearment instead of “mate” or “dude” etc…

— Dave

I recently read your article on the use of English in everyday Portuguese.

I find the most annoying instances to be the contractions of two-word English terms. You mentioned “shopping centers” becoming shoppings. Here are a few others:

top (top model)

home (now used by store sales staff as a contraction of “home theatre.”)

outdoor (outdoor sign or billboard)

note (notebook computer)

desk (sometimes used to describe a desktop computer, particularly in newspaper headlines)

miss (anyone who has won a beauty pagent, such as Miss Brasil, Miss America etc.)

Put them all together, and in English it might come out something like: I saw a top, who also happened to be a former miss, advertising a note on an outdoor. I was thinking about buying one, but I really needed a a desk. Plus, I didn’t have a lot of money because I had just purchased a home.

— David

Previous articles by Mark Taylor:

Brazil: Feira Food
Brazil: Bilhete Unico flexibility increases
Brazil: Finding Work
Brazil: U2 Ticket Chaos
Brazil: Finding Work
Brazil: Termites
Brazil: Queues, Queues, Queues
Brazil: Let’s Go Fly a Kite!
Brazil… the Film That Is
Brazil: The Bus to Nowhere
Brazil: Piracy
Brazil: Gestures
Brazil: Proclamation of the Republic
Brazilian Film Review
Brazilian Film Review
Brazil: Finados (Day of the Dead)
Interjections, exclamations and onomatopoeia in Brazilian Portuguese
Brazil: Halloween
Brazil says “No” to banning firearms
Brazil Humour: Phone Etiquette
Brazil’s Gun Referendum
Brazil: Scams
Brazil: Moby Review
Brazil: Keeping in touch via the Internet – Part 5
Brazil: Keeping in touch via the Internet – Part 4
Brazil: Avril Lavigne at Pacaembu
Moby in Brazil
Brazil: Keeping in touch via the Internet – Part 3
Brazil: Keeping in touch via the Internet – Part 2
Brazilian Film Review
Brazil: Keeping in touch via the Internet – Part 1
Brazil: First season of Lost repeated on AXN

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