The only exposure I’ve ever had to Portuguese from Portugal was when I attempted to have a conversation with my uncle’s Portuguese girlfriend while grocery shopping, what a fail that was. She looked over and mumbled something to me in a very Portuguese way and I understood that she wanted me to get in the gay man (like excuse me), when she really meant for me to get in line at the grocery store.
To my defense, she sounded like she had a cotton ball in her mouth like most Portuguese people do. After laughing at “getting in a gay man,” the frustration hit when I had no clue what she was trying to communicate despite speaking variations of the same language.
Five years later, I find myself boarding a plane to Lisbon to start a six week Eurotrip, and thus, being forced to exchange communication with my Portuguese peeps. Here are all of the weird things that Brazilians must know before going to Portugal:
Bicha vs Fila
Das dat bull$hit that got my uncles girlfriend in trouble at the grocery store. When you’re in Brazil, saying bicha is like saying the big f word for gays, it’s a no no. So saying this word with full vocal tones in public places in Portugal will most definitely make Brazilians turn heads.
Sandes vs Sanduíche
I first thought sandes was either a woman, a female clothing line, or the way they would say Sandy Cheeks, guess again honey, come to find out that’s actually the word for sandwich.
Convém vs Por Favor
Ok, I did love Portugal, I swear, I do, but damn, ya’ll have to learn some manners. I felt like I was a football player, and not as in fútbol, as in straight up tackling people while casually walking in Lisbon’s tiny cobblestone streets because everyone would just knock you over and keep walking without saying a damn thing. Come to find out, it’s in their culture to just “expect” to have a right of way which is why instead of saying “please” while asking for something, they say “convém” meaning yes, that should be the case.
Comboio vs Trem
This one got me like “woahhh” when I was completely lost underground in the metro system with no wifi, no map, barely any language skills, clearly, all while needing to find the exit. I’m looking in every direction to try to find the street name, an exit sign, and I see “comboio” which I felt was the right way (my brain thought camboio aka cambio aka transfer to get the hell out of the train station). Ten minutes later, I was still lost and just kept facing more trains because duhhhh, comboio means train.
B.I.C.A vs Cafezinho
I thought cafezinho was a standard topic to relate to with any Portuguese speaking person, I was wrong again. Their version of Brazilian’s cafezinho (aka espresso) is called uma bica, which I later found out means bebe isso com açúcar, drink this with sugar, because of its potent taste.
Fixe vs Legal
One of the most important things that you need to know when traveling to foreign countries is their way of saying “cool.” Why is this so important? Because when someone blabs something at you and smiles expecting you to understand and you have no idea what they just said, your safe default response should always be “cool” with a smile. For me, that didn’t work out so well in Portuguese because our way of saying cool means legal, while Portuguese say fixe which for Brazilians means “still.” What a mindbanger.
Casa de Banho vs Banheiro
The second thing you need to know is how to ask for the bathroom, I failed again. Casa de banho, which for us Brazilians means “house of the bath” is bathroom. Would’ve never guessed that one but I learned real quick after drinking 1L of sangria.
Autocarro vs Ônibus
This one kind of just makes me mad. Why would you call a bus an “auto car?” When I first saw this I honestly thought that it was the airport shuttle or something. Nope, that’s just the jolly old bus comin’ through.
If there’s anything that I missed comment below!
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