Lost in Translation – For Portuguese-English speakers!

You know how when you try to translate a phrase from one language to another it makes no sense at all sometimes? That is exactly what I recently started experiencing. Even though English is not my first language, I have been exposed to it since childhood well enough not to have experienced “lost in translation”– until right before I came to Brazil.

After a long day of living life in the Portuguese language, when the time comes to switch languages, I sometimes find myself unconsciously speaking English as if it were directly translated from Portuguese. However, my colleagues and I occasionally like to say phrases in English that sound very Portuguese just because it sounds amusing.

So I decided to collect some of my favorite “lost in translation” phrases from Portuguese to English.

1)      Pode ser? – Could be?

For example: I would like you to do this for me and then do that, could be?

2)      Eu tenho “…” anos. – I have “…” years.

Meaning I am “…” years old.

3)      Tem certeza? – Do you have certainty?

Meaning: Are you sure?

4)      Estou com frio/fome – I am with cold/hunger

Meaning: I am cold/hungry

5)      Saúde! – Health!

As in… Cheers!

6)      Tenho vergonha – I have shame

Meaning: I am ashamed or I am too shy for this.

7)      O meu amigo me falou que… – The my friend talked to me that…

Meaning: My friend told me that…

8)      Bonitinha – little beautiful

This one sounds really off in English but you can basically add “inha” or “zinha” ) depending on the ending of the word) to almost any word in Portuguese to make it sound cuter. It’s as if you are saying “Kitty” instead of “cat” or “Birdy” instead of “bird”. But imagine saying “I am going to eat some foody” (Vou comer comidinha) – yes, you can say foody in Portuguese and it won’t sound off.

9)      Eu sou do Brasil – I am from the Brazil

For some reason, “the” is used before some words that would never make sense in English. Like I said up there (7) The my friend… I am talking to the my mom…

Countries take “the” (But not all – wow! For some reason, Portugal doesn’t take for example… go figure!) States and towns do too, BUT cities don’t.

For example: I am living in the Brazil, in the Santa Catarina, in the Campeche, in Florianópolis. BEAUTIFUL

10)   Tô de boa – I am from good

Meaning: I’m cool, I’m good

Nobody really says I am from good in English, it is just interesting to see how you can play with words in one language and it could totally make sense while directly translating it to another language would kill the meaning.

It goes without saying that all the slang words in Brazilian Portuguese make no sense in English (“Que massa”, “Que jóia”, “Que show”… How dough, how jewel, how show…) But that’s how it is with slang words in any language, they only make sense in the respective language, sometimes even just a specific group of people (from a certain city etc..)

Just for your amusement I decided to write some sentences in English that would only make sense to Portuguese-English speakers.

-Hi, all good? I am the Patil, which is the your name? I have 19 years, how many years do you have?

-Hi, is everything good? I am Patil, what is your name? I am 19 years old, how old are you?

-Oi, tudo bem? Eu sou a Patil, qual é o seu nome? Eu tenho 19 anos, quantos anos você tem?

-I don’t know Armenia but I heard to talk about it. So you are Armenian? How dough!!!

-I know Armenia but I have never been there, I have only heard about it. So you are Armenian? How cool!

-Eu não conheço Armênia, mas ouvi falar. Então você é Armênia? Que massa!

-Someone is connecting you.

-Someone is calling you.

-Alguém tá te ligando.

-Let’s talk later. I will warn you if I am coming, until soon! Are you with certainty that you are coming? Beauty! Until already!

-Let’s talk later. I will let you know if I am coming, until then! Are you sure you are coming? Amazing! Until then!

-Vamos falar depois. Eu vou te avisar se tô vindo, até logo. Tem certeza se vai? Beleza, até já.

-I didn’t take coffee of the morning!

-I missed breakfast

-Não tomei café da manhã

-I went to the beach to catch sun today. I took bath of the sea too.

-I went to the beach to get some sun (sunbathe). I swam too (or went in the water- not necessarily swim)

-Fui a praia pra pegar sol (tomar banho do sol). Tomei banho do mar também.

-Are you with thirst? Would you like to take water?

-Are you thirsty? Would you like to drink water?

-Está com sede? Gostaria de tomar água?

-Everything tranquil! I am of good. Don’t worry yourself. Everything gave right!”

-Everything is okay! I am good/fine. Don’t worry, everything went well!

-Tudo tranquilo. Eu tô de boa. Não se preocupe, tudo deu certo!”


(The sentences above are colloquial.)

Anyways, Portuguese is such a beautiful language!

PS: Here’s an extra literally translated sentence just for Portuguese speakers

Hey little beautiful, can I catch you? I want to stay with you. (;

Oi bonitinha, posso te pegar? Quero ficar contigo/com você.

Deu, só isso. Até a próxima.