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Friday, 13 July 2012

Oi, Pão! (or how to mind your Carioca p's and q's)

Now i'm sure I'll attract some linguistic advice here, but one of my latest revelations on my roller-coaster Carioca assimilation programme has been the the way people here get each other's attention and address each other.

Like all civilised nations, its a good idea to say excuse me (com licençabefore you barge past someone - this occurs more often than you would think. Particularly when you absolutely need to get to the door of the bus or the metro so that you don't end up missing out on an essential after work beer. 

Now, when you inevitably walk straight into someone, once again, like anywhere, 'pardon me' or 'sorry' (desculpe)  is just the ticket. And exactly like 'excuse me' you're going to need it several times a day - especially because walking pace here is only just bordering on momentum, and if you need to complete a hundred yard dash in less than 20 minutes, then I'm afraid you are going to smash into a poor ambling pedestrian at some point or other. I suppose this simpler alternative is just to join the ambling masses. Problem is, the gringo blood still coursing through my veins means that I am inclined to forget - just as the more unscrupulous locals might be inclined to rip me off or mug me.

Here comes the thing I currently find amusing. Its the way that people address each other. In a literal sense. It seems fine to just say what or who people are, or what they are doing. It even seems ok to shout whatever might be on offer just to get the attention of the person who might be offering it.

Cultural querkiness  like this leaves a Gringo like me in a slight predicament. I'm quite happy shouting 'motorista' at the bus driver so that he makes my stop, but simply shouting 'Oi pão!' (oi, bread)  at the guy selling bread in the pub makes me feel slightly like I'm being a wanker. 

For the moment, I'll stick to what I know - I'll call my son 'filho' and I'll call the barman 'Patrão' (because I feel that i'd like it I were called the boss sometimes) - and while I'm sticking to what I know I'll have a couple of beers and see if I can make a list of these wonderful terms of endearment. And if i'm feeling a little braver I might try a couple.  I did try calling my wife 'Mulher' the other day, and I have to say she wasn't sure it was a good idea. More research needed, that's for sure.

Try one of these....

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