I’ve heard the word “Beto” or its diminutive, “Betinho”, being used a few times as a sort of derrogatory word for a rich, posh person – someone the kids today would call privileged. I think I first came across it in 1986 A Série but didn’t really wonder where it came from. Apparently it’s from the early eighties when a Brazilian Telenovela called Dancing Days first aired on portuguese TV. There was a character in that called Beto, who was the son of well-off parents. He was played by Lauro Corona. The series aired in the late seventies and made its way to Portugal in the early eighties, so it still would have been quite a new word in 1986 when Nuno Markl puts it into the mouths of his protagonists.
Anyway, here’s a clip from the original series. It has strong eighties vibes to me, but I guess these trends don’t fit precisely into decades, do they?
Is exactly the sort of thing I love. The writer is Ricardo Araújo Pereira, comedian, columnist and all round good guy (well, as far as I know) Anyway, in the passage above, he’s describing a song I don’t know and saying that if a foreigner were to hear it, although they would rightly spot that it sounds lovely, they probably wouldn’t understand it and certainly wouldn’t notice that the last word of every line is “proparoxítona”* and nor would they understand that the word “proparoxítono” itself is proparoxítona**. And he’s right: it is a lovely song and when I read this in bed last night I had no clue what Proparoxítono meant but I knew I had to find out as soon as I woke up.
First of all, let’s hear the song
Oh my god, that is the good stuff alright. I know it’s Brazilian Portuguese, not Portuguese Portuguese but Jesus Christ it’s good. Inject it directly into my veins! There is something slightly strange about the rhythm of the verse though isn’t there? And I never would have spotted what it was.
Before I get I to it, let’s lay a bit of groundwork by thinking about where the stress falls in a Portuguese word.
The vast majority of words in Portuguese put the stress on either the final syllable (if the last letter is r, l, z, m, u, i or n) or the penultimate one (basically, all other letters). Any exceptions to the rule need an accent to be added as a hint to the reader. So for example there are a lot of words that end in – ável or – ível that are pronounced with the stress on the a and the i respectively. If the accent wasn’t there you’d have to say incrivEL and confortavEL. But it’s pretty easy and you get used to it, and before you know it, you’re just used to the rhythm of Portuguese speech without even being conscious of it.
Proparoxítono means that the stress falls on the antepenultimate (last-but-two) syllable. These always have to have an accent because they break the normal rules, like bêbado (BÊ-ba-do) and mágico (MÁ-gi-co) and sábado (SÁ-ba-do) and última and único and tímido and… Well, and every other word he finishes a line with in the song, which is why you get this effect that’s really unusual in a Portuguese song, where the last two syllables of every line are unstressed.
Oh my god, that’s so satisfying. I love it! It’s the most value I’ve ever got out of a single paragraph, I think: a new word, a new song and a new way of noticing the rhythm of Portuguese music.
Anyway, if you want to know more, this video has some good analysis. It’s in Brazilian Portuguese too, so be warned if you’re trying to avoid the dialect. It’s worth making an exception for though.
*it has an a in the end here, unlike in the title, because its an adjective and palavra is feminine
**Now I know what you’re thinking: “Isn’t that the stuff Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying think should be used to cure Covid?” Close, but no, it’s not that either.
Oi galera, estou escrevendo um comentário sobre um livro brasileiro embora eu aprenda português europeu. Blz!
Eu já conheci a obra de um dos autores, Gregório Duvivier por causa de uma conversa pública com Ricardo Araújo Pereira e ouvi falar dos seus programas televisivos. A cara é legal!
Neste livrinho, os dois rescrevem o mito de Sísifo, mesclado com outros fios culturais: Hamlet, a crise ambiental, memes, o teatro do absurdo. Nas palavras do Duvivier “‘A história se repete’ dizia Marx, ‘a primeira vez como tragédia e a segunda como farsa’. Acrescentamos ‘a terceira vez como um gif'”. Para mim, esta explicação vale o preço do livro em si. Fez-me rir “kkk” disse eu. uh-oh, vem aí o cancelamento. “kkkkkk”, acrescentei, porque três cás* só não dá para ganhar amigos no mundo anglófono.
Apparently in Brazil K is written “cá”, not “capa” which makes sense because cácácá sounds like laughter whereas capacapacapa just sounds like a bunch of rooks fighting over a bag of chips.
Recentemente vi uma entrevista com Ana Paula Henkel numa programa brasileira. A Senhora Henkel é uma ex-jogadora de vôlei brasileiro. Hoje em dia, é licenciada em Ciências politicas na universidade de Califórnia, e é activa na vida politica do país. Ora bem, não concordo muito com as suas opiniões: durante a entrevista, ela não mencionou o presidente actual do país, o Jair Bolsonaro, mas falou com o apresentador (um comediante chamado Danilo Gentili) sobre Trump, sobre os jornais tendenciosos, e sobre o assunto mais chato e sobrecarregado no mundo: o excesso do politicamente correcto. Não tenho paciência para tudo isso: políticos que justificam quaisquer políticas ruins, ou quaisquer crimes contra o estado por método de dizer que as queixas vêem exclusivamente das pessoas hipersensíveis da esquerda.
Ao final da entrevista mostrou a sua top, com uma imagem de Margaret Thatcher, a ex-primeira ministra do Reino Unido. e a legenda “lute como essa garota”!
A Ana Paula é uma das personalidades desportistas que tem falado contra o fenómeno de pessoas trans, com corpos masculinos que jogam contra atletas femininas, que é algo muito polémico nesta altura, mas isso não fazia grande parte da entrevista e por isso não sei se recebesse muitos insultos, tal como a Martina Navratilova, que disse algo semelhante. Por acaso, este assunto é a única dela com qual eu concordo.
Falou do seu dedo deslocado, a a sua coragem em continuar a jogar com aquela lesão. Enfim achei-a uma personagem interessante, apesar das suas opiniões conservadores.
Sorry – so much Brazil lately! I need to get back on point here!
*=I wrote “muito abuso” but I don’t think you can use “abuse” in that context. Abuse of power but not “I got a lot of abuse”
I’m going to use this post as a notepad for brazilian language notes.
I’ve been having skype language exchanges with a brazilian PE teacher who lives in Portugal, and that’s not too bad because he knows the euopean dialect, but I’ve also joined a sort of online gaming board made up of some brazilian dudes who talk in abbreviations, and that’s like being buffeted about inside a washing-machine full of abbreviations.
One that flummoxed me was “blz” which, from the context I thought was a borrowed “please” (they use borrowed americanisms like “man” a lot so this is not as mad as it sounds) but it’s actually “beleza” which is a regional way of saying “ok” or “understand?” You reply with “beleza” if you get it and “não entendi” if not.
Galera seems to be used in more or less the same way as the portuguese “malta” in my group but I think it’s more like “team”
Means “Puta que pariu” literally ‘bitch that gave birth’ but less literally just a general all-purpose swear. Linguee translates it as “fucking hell”
I came across another reference to monkeys and branches in Bruno Nogueira’s Mata Bicho podcast: “Cada macaco no seu galho”. It reminded me of the one I mentioned a few weeks back. I guess Portuguese speakers must really like monkeys because I can think of at least two other monkey-related expressoes: “Vai pentear macacos” and “macaquinhos na cabeça” (here). This new one means “Each monkey on his own branch” or, less literally “people should mind their own business”.
It’s mentioned in a song here (#braziliandialectklaxon)
By the way, I always thought Mata Bicho meant something like “bug killer”, which it kinda does but it’s an expression that can mean a tip (in some places) or a little drink taken at breakfast time. So I guess “hair of the dog” then…?