I was recently reminded of some concepts that are familiar to Brazilian children and reminiscent of things American kids also know. Being that they both speak different languages, the concepts below are expressed a bit differently.
In Portuguese, the ABCs are known as the “bê-à-bá” (said: bay-ah-bah). In fact, the term has a few related meanings such as “a child’s primer”, “a spelling exercise”, “first notions of reading” and the “initial understanding (of something)”.
An example I found online of how to use the term in a figurative sense is like this: “Para quem deseja aprender o bê-à-bá da cozinha, o Senac oferece o curso de Culinária…” (For those who want to learn the ABCs of the kitchen, Senac offers a culinary course…)
Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe
Most Americans grew up with this rhyme. I’m talking enough generations to go back to the beginning of the US as a nation. And although there are several variations, here’s the one I grew up saying…
Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe,
Catch a tiger by his toe,
If he hollers, make him pay,
Fifty dollars every day.
The other day, I used this around my girlfriend who then repeated it as she learned it. She said,
“Uni duni te, Salame min-guê,
Um sorvete colo-rê, O escolhido foi vo-cê.”
It was much to my surprise as I had never heard of this and never knew it was used in other countries for the same reasons (choosing someone or something from a group). Every little cultural or linguistic tidbit brings me closer to understanding Brazil and Brazilians better so I thank her for teaching me some of the bê-à-bá of the Brazilian experience, and now I’m passing it along to you!
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