“Therefore, virtue is a kind of mean, since, as we have seen, it aims at what is intermediate.”
(Aristotle, in Nicomachean Ethics, translated by W. D. Ross)
There’s also a Danish proverb that goes:
“Virtue in the middle, said the Devil, when seated between two lawyers”.
I appreciate Mr. Denilso Lima’s good humored texts, but, as “virtue is in the middle”, I must say he exaggerated just a little tiny bit. I wouldn’t want Macmillan Dictionary Blog readers to stay under the false impression that Brazilian politicians are anglophobes.
In 1999 a Brazilian congressman (Aldo Rebelo – PCdoB) proposed a bill for the fostering, protection, defense and usage of the Portuguese language, which would contemplate fines for the abusive borrowing of strange and/or foreign words by the Brazilian media, public institutions, and many other social and cultural domains. If it passed, commerce, media, and government would have to give the Portuguese translation together with the foreign name of whichever they announced in English or any other languages. Unfortunately – for a country where 90%+ of the inhabitants are functional illiterates, can’t understand what they read in our own language, much less in English – the bill did not pass.
Here is an example of the need of translation together with the English terms: sale is liquidação in Portuguese, but it means “dirty” in French, and “he/she/it goes out” in Spanish. It’s really funny, in a touristic city like Rio de Janeiro, to see the look in the face of French tourists when they see the word sale written on some store windows. And they wonder: “Why should I buy dirty products?” But I digress.
The majority did not agree with the payment of fines, and, when it went through to the Senate, the bill text was replaced with a completely different one, which does not even mention the term “foreign language”, and requests that the government encourages the learning of our language through all possible means. The revised text of the bill is currently awaiting the President’s endorsement.
So what happens now is Brazilians keep having to guess what the English signs say, and the English speakers keep having to guess what Brazilians think is English. For instance, many delivery services call themselves disk because the verb to dial in Portuguese is discar, so they think that discar must be to disk in English. Instead of Dial a Pizza, they call their businesses Disk Pizza, and it makes English speaking visitors wonder: what formats do pizzas have other than the “disk” one in Brazil? The word disk is, thus, another example of Brazinglish, the flavor of English spoken in Brazil.Email this Post