A Timeline of Vocabulary

Some vocabulary essential to getting through the first couple months in Brazil:

  • Esperar! — This means to wait, and I used it ALL THE TIME with my host sister.
  • Ficar Presa/o — This means to be stuck. This could apply to a child in the mango tree or me as I sit on the ground exhausted by their infinite energy.
  • Oi! — This is a common greeting, and I knew I had finally arrived the first time I used it without feeling like an irritated Ron Weasley. 
  • Não entendi— This means “I didn’t understand” and again, I used it constantly.
  • Ahhhhhhh, tà! — This is for when I finally did understand and could agree to whatever was being asked of me.
  • Meu Deus! — This literally means “My God!”, and is just an exclamation. Other options include “Meu Pai!” and “Ahh, Senhor!”
  • Nossa! — Wow! 
  • OPA! — Oops, I suppose? The translation of this one is a point of contention, but it is another exclamation, usually used in an unfortunate situation. Or, alternatively, to greet someone. 
  • Dragão, fada, and Sirena — Dragon, fairy, and mermaid are essential in any language.
  • Demais — This means “of most”, and is used to augment anything. I.e.: “bonita demais” (so pretty), “louco demais” (so crazy) or “comi demais” (I ate soooo much).
  • De novo?! — Again?! I.e. “The cat climbed into the ceiling de novo?!”
  • È — This literally means “is”, and is used as agreement that yes, that’s the way things are.
  • Chato — literally boring, but can be used as just negative in general. “Gato chato” is the context in which I heard it most often, when the cat complained at my host mother.
  • Tonta — dizzy, not to be confused with “tanto” which means so much.

Seven months later, I was using different vocabulary as I struggled to say goodbye.

  • Tchau — saying goodbye to my host parents and this beautiful island, country, and culture which have been my home for the last seven months was incredibly difficult. 
  • Felicidade — happiness isn’t a new word, per se, but after innumerable conversations with my host father about what it means to be happy, I feel that it deserves a spot on the list of formative vocabulary. 
  • Alma — to go along with the question of happiness, you need to be able to talk about your soul. 
  • Praia — I will miss the beach as I head to Boston next year. I got spoiled on that island.
  • Communidade — For example, the community at work that I found. They are all so different, but are so close to each other, and were so sweet about including us as well. The first week when Lu and Paula wrote in their reminders for the day, right under the measurements for the anteater’s medicine and the number of parrots they had, “fala com os gringos” — “talk to the foreigners”. 
  • Laser — laser therapy is used pretty regularly on animal’s wounds at R3 to promote cell division and quicken the healing process, but I didn’t start participating until the last couple of months.
  • Signo — your star sign. Astrology is a very big thing in Brazil. I have been asked what star sign I am by everyone from random people on the bus to salesmen I was buying stickers from. The godmother of my host siblings just got me a bracelet with the pisces sign on it, which warmed my heart and is a great example of the kindness and immediate love I have felt throughout my time here. 
  • Adorar — to adore, as I did this incredible home.
  • Amar — to love, as I do my host family and everyone who made this experience possible —  and amazing.
  • Sonhar — to dream. My host sister literally has dreams about the twins she will have one day, riding on unicorns. I dream that she will become an intelligent, caring woman with love and a good life. I worry about her, but I hope that my being there was in some way a educational and format experience for her as well. 
  • Saudade — this is untranslatable into english, but is the state of missing something, a sort of nostalgic longing. It is what I feel for my host family, the friends I made in country, the baby monkeys at work, and the sound of the waves.