Thursday, July 28, 2011

Puxa vida

Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right.  Then they took him, and slew him." – Judges 12:6 *

101 ou 401**

Puxa vida!***

*Biblical precedent for 'mispronuniciations will not be tolerated'

**Roughly translated: Love it or Leave it! 101 refers to Loi 101: a law passed in Quebec in 1974 making French officially the first language of the province. English translations of signs could be included but only if the font was much smaller. 401 is the major highway in Canada mainly in Ontario that people could take if they did not want to conform to 101.

***A common Brazilian exclamation loosely translated as "Wow!' or as the bizarre common American expression
"Good Grief!" as popularized by Charlie Brown

And how does one pronounce 'puxa vida' and why would one care? As near as I can tell 'poosha veedah' Josh is going to Brazil soon and asked me to research his options. He is mainly concerned whether he can drink the water, which hotel would be the coolest, what diseases can he get and how to prevent them, and what are the safety issues, and how to get to the small town outside of Salvador, Brazil where he will be working? He is mainly concerned with traffic safety. He e-mailed the head of the Brazil division requesting a driver. He received a reply informing him that Salvador was not Baghdad, that his car will have a Garmin, and that if he did not feel 'up to the challenge', maybe they would just find someone else. Puxa vida indeed.

As part of my research, I bought a book on Brazil. Within was a statement that the little bit of Spanish that you know will get you nowhere in Brazil. Amount of Spanish absorbed during Josh's stay in Mexico: close to zero. He is a rasa tabula. I figure I should teach him some rudimentary Portuguese but first I have to learn some myself. I have time on my hands, right? The language seems to have a surfeit of exes, aitches and cedillas. I have heard it spoken. I can recognize its  very common 'shhhh' sound. Portuguese  pronunciation  isn't as straightforward as it is in Italian or Spanish. There seems to be many  diphthongs with confusing rules on their pronunciation. And things are pronounced differently in Brazil versus Portugal. I was watching a travel show the other day highlighting the many Portuguese living on our East Coast, many from the Azores and Cape Verde Islands.

As for its culture and food, it is very different from the US and Europe. Lots of coconut and tropical fruit and fish. It should be an interesting stay.

Part of my middle of the night reading recently included the book "Last Night in Montreal". A subplot featured an English speaking girl growing up there under Loi 101. Despite being otherwise bright, she was unable to learn French and thus was marginalized. She was fired from her job for greeting a customer by saying "Hello". Another subplot concerned a man whose life's work was studying soon to be extinct languages. He ends up marooned in Montreal where no one will speak English to him. He knows no commonly spoken languages other than English. The irony I guess is that Quebecois was seen to be a dying language, barely understood by the French French and draconian measures were taken to preserve it from the encroaching English.

A series of very loud storms kept me up last night. It was so hot and steamy this morning. My run was not enjoyable.

So much to do....


Teri Bernstein said...

I recommend that Josh take "State of Wonder" by Ann Patchett with him. Not only is it set in both a city and a remote jungle part of Brazil, it is about a pharmacological development company and the fascinating new drug they find that can maintain fertility in women indefinitely. The female scientists involved can help him "grok" with his mother, as well as understand both the possibilities of and the lunacy of this particular part of South America...

Cheryl said...

Food definitely would be right for me Sue, however, the language a different matter. Feel Josh will adapt to both.


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