“SpaghettEnglish”

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      A little taste of Brazil!

Jardim Paulista

Photos courtesy Gloria Powell

Cultural Institute

Japanese cultural institute, San Paulo

SPCentral Market

San Paulo Central Market


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BRAZIL, where I live, is a very big country. It is a former colony of Portugal. [colony: a country or land controlled by another country]  That means that in Brazil we speak Portuguese.  Our people and our culture came from the first people—the native people of Brazil. But we also descend [came from] English, Spanish and Portuguese settlers, and from some African peoples.

     In fact, all of the Americas are an extension of Europeans in some way  because we have descendants [ancestors] from Italy, Germany, Russia, Poland, Japan, Denmark, France, the Middle East, Asia, and so on.  Maybe you will be surprised to know that Brazil is home to the largest population of Japanese outside of Japan.

     I think the mixing of cultures and ethnic groups is a blessing [a gift from God] because then many good characteristics come together. For example. From our native people we took the quality of calmness. From Europeans we took the taste for work, organization and determination. From African groups we acquired a love a religion and also tenderness.  Sometimes there is prejudice [feelings of not liking or trusting people who are not like you], but it is not strong and it is actually against the law to show prejudice. So for us, to be a mixed people is very normal.

     I live in the southeast part of Brazil, in the capital São Paulo. It is a huge city and an important financial center. There are many people and many different kinds of businesses. Growing coffee crops was once the main source of work. Much of the success was thanks to a brave group of Italian laborers.  By 1910, over 1 million Italians came to São Paulo. Half of the people in the city spoke Italian and their music and food were Italian. They taught Brazilians to like tomatoes, for example.

     It’s said that here in Brazil one can eat better Italian food than in Italy. I would not say that, but the food is very tasty! For every ten Portuguese surnames [family names] there are four Italian surnames!  If you don’t descend from Italians, for sure you are connected to someone who is.

     Brazilians from other areas say that we in São Paulo speak a kind of mixed Portuguese-Italian: that is, when we speak Portuguese, we have an Italian accent. I never thought this was true. But in 2002, when I was in the United States, my boss—a nice lady—used to say, “Maria, it’s so interesting, the way you speak reminds me of the Italian language!” 

     So then I had to agree.  Maybe you could say that we speak a kind of “Portitalian” . . . or maybe “Spaghettenglish”!  —Maria


     …………………………………Maria’s native language is Portuguese. She’s been studying English thirty years and teaches English to school students. We’re very grateful for her finding time in her busy schedule to write for InterestEng.!

 ©InterestEng. July 2013  §  The stories in the magazine portion of the site are written by English language learners. Stories are corrected by a native English speaker.  § Photos are staff or used with permission.  §  To contact us:  go.gently.on@gmail.com