What does a pest, a feeling, a dwarf, and bossa nova have in common? I know you were wondering the same thing, so I’ll go ahead and tell you. ; )
Late in September, news came out about how Brazil had released so-called good mosquitos to fight dengue fever. Researchers let thousands of the normally annoying pests, infected with a dengue-fighting bacteria, go free in an effort to shift the winds of the disease. The hope is that this new breed of mosquito will become the majority and put an end to reported cases in Brazil, 3 million and rising just in the last 5 years. Here is a Reuters’ video about this:
The word dengue is thought to come from a Swahili phrase Ka-Dingo pepo which describes a disease caused by an evil spirit.
In Brazil, the word has taken on its own secondary meaning and derivatives. Dengue, being the same as denguice, is something with a dengoso quality, or one who does dengo. Someone who is dengoso is said to be whiny, finical, dainty, coy or fussy. They’re also said to enjoy affection, as a child or a cat would (see image above). The lovely Elis Regina even did a delightful song about it which you can find below. The song has several of the words that I have just mentioned here. You will find the lyrics here.
The word dengoso is also familiar to Brazilians: It is the name of one of the Sete Anões, or Seven Dwarves (from Snow White fame). In English, Dengoso is Bashful. In Brazilian Portuguese, however, if you wanted to say someone is bashful, it’s best to use tímido or even acanhado (shy, timid, reserved). Since this blog post is all about making connections between one thing and another, I’ll also say that as a verb, especially a reflexive one, acanhar(-se) can be used interchangeably with envergonhar-se (to be ashamed).
Getting back to the Seven Dwarves, for the music lovers out there, I discovered that the same person who dubbed Bashful also was the first to record Garota de Ipanema: Pery Ribeiro.