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It's Carnaval! Time for a bit of rebolation

©  Brasil2 - iStockphotoOur Brazil English month continues with another guest post, this time by Denilso de Lima,  ELT author, teacher trainer, conference speaker and member of the blogosphere. Denilso prepares us for Carnaval by introducing some creative word formation processes in Brazinglish.


Here in Brazil, I have heard lots of common mistakes Brazilian learners make when speaking English. For instance, learners often have difficulty with final consontants in words such as whisk, sweet and book. So, one may hear these words pronounced as whisky, sweetie and bookie instead.

That’s OK! Teachers’ task is to help their learners notice the difference and problem solved! Now, what is more curious in Brazil is something called the embromation of English.

Embromation comes from the Brazilian Portuguese verb embromar and the English suffix –ation. Embromar means lots of things, but in this context it can be loosely interpreted as:

the process of creating words and sentences from words and (maybe) sentences you know to make something people think is real English

The magic of embromation, whose equivalent in Brazilian Portuguese is embromação, is this:

I create a language which may sound like English but it is not English at all

Having defined embromation, I have to add that this ‘invention’ also makes use of similarities in the way Portuguese and English words sound. An example of this is the sentence “U á tem som di u?”, which in English sounds something like “What ten son dee ooo?”. I know it means absolutely nothing, but if you say it really fast here in Brazil, it sounds like English. Incredibly, some naive people here in Brazil may believe that it is real English. (If you are wondering, this nonsense sentence means: ‘Is the letter a pronounced like the letter u?’ Crazy, huh?)

Although it is a play on words and the way those words sound, I have to warn you that sometimes things get real around here. As you may know, Carnaval, the most famous Brazilian holiday, is starting later this week. So this year, embromation has its place guaranteed at almost every party all over the country.

An axé group (axé is a common style of music in Brazil) created a new song and dance called Rebolation. For those who might be wondering: rebolation comes from the verb rebolar (meaning ‘to move and shake the hips in a sensual and sexy way’) and, of course, the suffix –ation. Another magical creation of embromation.

So, are you coming to Brazil for Carnaval? Be aware of embromation as well as rebolation. I am pretty sure you are going to have lots of fun. If you are not coming, don’t worry: embromation will still be around for some time.

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Denilso de Lima


  • Very funny text, Denilso! Congrats on that! Reading you in Portuguese is a must! Now reading you in English is really awesome! I really loved the way you mentioned the ’embromation’ stuff here and also the way you blended it with Carnaval and the new ‘rebolation’ sensation! Really cool!

  • Just loved the text Denilso !!! you are a great writer and a great person man, I love reading the texts in your blog and now reading you in this page was just awesome!!! you deserve it all, best wishes!

  • Hey Lili, you’re totally right! We do have two kinds of rebolation here in Brazil. One is for techno, psytrance etc fans; and the one that is on the media right now and gaining lots of attention is the one I mentioned on the post.

    The first rebolation is like being renegated by TV. I don’t know [understand] why! So, I really think the axé version of rebolation willl really be the number during Carnaval in Bahia! 😀

  • Muito engracado! I recommend a song by Zeca Baleiro called ‘O Samba do Approach’. The song sends up (parodies) the kind of person who thinks it is cool demais to use English words all over the place. Every line has an anglicism (and at least one Gallicism). To be fair, when French was the language of sophistication, English speakers used to do exactly the same thing (pretentious, moi? as Miss Piggy used to say). Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose. Brazilian Portuguese is of course a superlatively sensual language that just oozes joie de vivre. It took me a while to tune into it, having learned French and Spanish first, but it was well worth the effort!

  • My congratulations, Denilso. Good humour is Brazil’s trademark!
    Regarding Dennis Delany’s post, English speakers keep doing that (pretentious, moi? ha ha ha), it does not belong to the past, but it’s part of the age old war between the English speakers and the French speakers.
    Late Daniel Brilhante de Brito, my unforgettable translation professor, used to say that the English language was married to German, but had an eternal affair with French.

    And, last but not least, here’s Samba do Approach, mentioned by Dennis, and, as it is one of my favorite satires, here’s a URL where all readers can listen to it, and it also has subtitles (there’s also a short dialog in the beginning where they speak in “Embromation”):

  • As always, you’ve done a great job! It’s so cool to see how you turn trivial matters into exciting and compelling issues. Kudos, coz with this article ,you’re still in the zone.

  • Interesting comments, however, I have a couple of problems. First, the group Parangolé that performs Rebolation is Bahian and would be classed as a style called Pagode in Bahia (not Axe). [We know that some have a problem with this use of Pagode, but that is how it is known by the fans there.] Next, many Brazilians seem to think that rebolation is a word in English. Of course, the wonderful thing about Brazilians is that if it sounds good they don’t really care.

  • Really nice post Denilso, and the most curious is that sometimes it works very well, I mean, “Embromation’s art”…lol
    Congratulation for the good job…

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