Today a hilarious article was published by Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo. The article is called Pardon Anything, by actor and writer Gregorio Duvivier, who is one of the creators of the very popular comic YouTube channel Porta dos Fundos.
The article mixes Portuguese and (bad) English to give you tips for your visit to Brazil.
What got my attention is that it brings popular Brazilian expressions that sound hilarious in English, but really are a part of everyday social life in Brazil.
These are expressions that you will hear from Brazilian friends anywhere in the world.
In this post, I show you these expressions and their translation, and will explain when we use each one.
1. Desculpa qualquer coisa
The title of the article is the literal translation of “desculpa qualquer coisa”: “Pardon anything”.
Saying “Desculpa qualquer coisa” is like saying: “Forgive me if I have said anything wrong, have done anything that may have bothered you, or if I was in any way inconvenient”.
You can hear this expression in many different situations, usually when people are saying good bye. For example, when a Brazilian guest is leaving your home after a party or after spending a few days visiting you from out of town, s/he can say:
- “Obrigada por tudo e desculpa qualquer coisa” = Thanks for everything and sorry if I have somehow been an inconvenience or done anything wrong.
2. Não repara a bagunça
Literally this means: Don’t observe the mess.
The expression can also come as:
- Desculpa a bagunça = Forgive the mess
This is a way to apologize for anything that may be less than completely clean and tidy in your home. We usually say that when we have guests visiting us at home. You may hear this even if the house looks perfectly tidy.
3. A casa é sua
Literal translation: The house is yours.
This is equivalent to: Make yourself at home.
4. Fica à vontade
The expression can also come as:
- Fique à vontade.
This is the equivalent to: Make yourself comfortable, make yourself at home.
5. Qualquer coisa, é só gritar
Translation: If you need anything, all you have to do is shout.
What it means: Let me know if you need anything.
6. Fica tranquilo
Literal translation: Keep calm.
What it means: Don’t worry.
Much has been written about this expression and the cultural misunderstandings that it can cause. Here is a tip: Saying “fica tranquilo” does not necessarily mean that things are under control.
7. É melhor esperar sentado
Literal translation: It is better to have a sit while you wait.
What it means: This is probably going to take a long time, if it is even going to ever get done. So if you want to wait, you might as well find a comfortable seat, otherwise you will be standing up for a very long time.
Of course we don’t really mean you should sit down. When we say this, we are usually complaining about a long wait. Depending on the context, we might be implying that you will not get what you want or need.
8. Volte sempre
Literal translation: Come back always.
What it means: It has been a pleasure, come back to visit often. You will hear this when you are leaving someone’s home or work place.
9. Vá com Deus
Literal translation: Go with God.
What it means: The person is wishing you safe travels.
10. Faço questão
Literal translation: I insist.
This is a very common expression when we are eating out and want to treat you and pay the bill. If you try to share the expenses, your Brazilian friend will say “Faço questão“, meaning that he insists on paying.
How to greet Brazilians: A kiss or a handshake?
The article mentions that in Brazil we give two beijinhos. This is a reference to how we greet friends and acquaintances by giving one kiss on each cheek.
- Beijo = kiss
- Beijinhos = little kisses
In Brazil we don’t really kiss the other person’s face. We touch cheek to cheek and blow the kisses in the air. We always go to our left side first, that is, we take our right cheek to the other person’s right cheek.
In São Paulo they only give one kiss.
In Rio, it is usuall 2 kisses.
In Minas Gerais, they give three kisses alternating cheeks. And single people often say that the third kiss is to help find marriage. We say: “3 pra casar”.
Please notice that man do not kiss man; they shake hands. The kisses are between two women or a man and a woman.
At work, you usually shake hands when you first meet someone no matter what gender the other person is.
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