Following on from yesterday’s whingeing about South Americans behaving like North Americans, here’s an interesting linguistic side note from the same Instagram account. Sorry, I’ll get back to european portuguese soon, I promise!
My first assumption was that maybe this was some sort of racist graffiti in Portugal – after all, the hashtags talk refer to xenofobia and “brasileiro em Portugal”. So, I asked around, but it turns out to be something else entirely. They’re all in Brazil and the different spelling is down to the difference between people’s perception of Brasil and the reality for average Brazilians. Brasil is a very unequal society with a lot of poverty and a lot of social problems, but also with an amazingly wide variety of plants and animals, as well as indigenous cultures. Brazil is the international spelling used by the United Nations, so in this context it has come to represent some other version of the country. Some people in the discussion said it was a stand-in for “the international elites”, whereas others see it as representing outsiders’ view of Brazil: tourism, beaches and a big statue of Christ the redeemer. In BraZil all the men are sexy helicopter pilots and all the women are beautiful, tanned and interestingly waxed. So, spelled with a Z, it represents either the rich who are ruining the country or the fantasy that is eclipsing the reality. Either way, there’s a dichotomy between the real Brasil and this fake Brazil that doesn’t understand it, is killing it, and doesn’t deserve it.
The specific phrases come from a song by Elis Regina called “Querelas do Brasil”. Querela can be a libel, an indictment, a dispute or a sad song. I’ll let you make your mind up about what, specifically, she’s going for here. It certainly doesn’t sound like she’s railing against the one percent: it sounds very upbeat, but Brazil has its own rhythms so that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not serious. She spends a lot of time listing things she likes about the country. I must admit, I didn’t recognise half the words but there are a lot of wild animals in there, an indigenous hero, some places… So I get the idea that at least some of it has to do with Brazil the state not deserving Brasil the paradise on earth, but I’m sure there are layers to it I’m missing.