Did you know that sometimes Brazilians from different parts of the country don’t understand each other even though we speak the same language? That is not only due to the accent, it is also because some of the words people use are regional. We have different names for objects and sometimes even different verbs which have the same meaning.
- Mandioca, macaxeira ou aipin: cassava. It is a very popular root in Brazil, it is eaten as a side to many different dishes and it can be boiled or fried.
- Arredar ou afastar: to scoot over; to move something.
Exemplo: Me ajuda a arredar/afastar o sofá? – Can you help me move the sofa?
Afasta/arreda um pouco para eu sentar também? – Can you move a bit so I can sit down as well?
- Biscoito ou bolacha: cookies; biscuits
Exemplo: Em São Paulo se fala bolacha, mas no Rio de Janeiro é biscoito. – In São Paulo people say bolacha, but in Rio de Janeiro it is biscoito.
- Mexerica, tangerina ou bergamota: mandarin; tangerine
- Sinal ou semáforo: traffic light
- Encanador ou bombeiro: plumber. The word bombeiro also means firefighter.
- Zelador ou porteiro: superintendent of a building. Some of the supers are also doorman, for this reason they could be called either zelador (which would be the same as super) or porteiro when one of the super’s responsibilities is to let people in and out of the building.
- Pivete ou trombadinha: young man who steals money and objects from people on the streets.
Exemplo: Ontem um pivete roubou o celular do José na frente da faculdade. – yesterday a pivete stole José’s cellphone in front of the university.
- Guardador de carro ou flanelinha: it’s used to refer to the boy or man who makes money helping people park on the streets. It is very common in Brazil and they expect payment for the service even when you haven’t asked for it or want it.
Exemplo: O flanelinha riscou meu carro com uma chave porque eu não dei dinheiro para ele. – The flanelinha keyed my car because I didn’t give him money.
- Passeio ou calçada: side walk; path.
- Carta de motorista ou carteira de motorista: driving license.
- Carteira de cigarro ou maço de cigarro: pack of cigarettes.
- Balão ou bexiga: party balloon.
It seems like a lot of words to memorize, but the good news is you don’t have to. You can learn only the word which is most used in the region where you live. Even native speakers sometimes don’t know some of them.
When you travel to a different place in Brazil, it is good to keep in mind that if you talk to people and they can’t understand what you are saying, it could be because they don’t know the word you are using and not the other way around.
Tenham uma ótima semana!