So you think you understand Portuguese?

Check these two 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 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?

5 thoughts on “So you think you understand Portuguese?”

  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.

  2. Well, I’m a Brazilian Portuguese native speaker and i can tell that it was quite hard for me to understand the first video, northeast people do speak like that, not as fast and joke-like but yeah.
    Gaúchos are my neighbors (I live in Santa Catarina), and they do speak like that, they also have their own vocabulary and LOTS of spanish words and expressions.

  3. In general, Brazilians speak very bad portuguese,due to lack of good education and even those who’ve got secondary or college education speak badly too… just for fun (regional slangs and portenglish) or misregarding to the language and the good manners.Many have to undergo intensive grammar courses in portuguese language when postulating for national exams at official employment.

    Any worldwide language, as the english language, spoken with good manners and respecting grammar and good vocabulary would be understandable from Kansas City to London, from Jamaica to Australia and so on…despite of different accents and nationalities.

    The portuguese language when spoken with good manners goes in the the same way, everybody can understand, despite accents,in all brazilian regions and abroad, from Lisbon to Luanda, from Maputo to Macao or Timor.

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