Monday, January 29, 2007

Things I miss about England #78: Can Openers and Cork Screws.
I've yet to find a standard can opener with a twisty knob or a Cork Screw with those helpful handles. Brazilian varieties of these household tools are minimalistic to say the least and involve a lot of huffing and puffing from whoever wants to get the good stuff out.

Things I love about Brazil #45:
Amusing uses of English. Brazilians seem to have a flexible grasp of languages; the main aim for them is communication not accuracy. When translating signs or notices into English there's about a 90 to 95% accuracy rate where a native Ingles could easily understand the gist and meaning of what has been written even if the sentences are not grammatically perfect.

However, sometimes, it all goes a bit pear-shaped. While in Rio over Christmas we found several examples of these translation "near misses". One restaurant had on the menu an option for: 'Tupical Disk'. Rather than risk ordering something that
sounded like the name of a heavy metal Rock outfit or a Landrover part we stayed away. Later we deciphered this must have stood for Tropical Dish. Our hotel invited men to use the 'Dismissable Razors'. I've never used razors that have agreed to be dismissed before, but I assumed these were much the same as the disposable variety.

Anyway, for Christmas my Mother-in-law gave me some clothes made by the Brazilian brand 'Sandpiper'. Their slogan loses something in translation (see above). In Portuguese this would make perfect sense - 'uma pessoa simples' is seen to be somebody down to earth, straightforward, open and honest. In English the meaning is somewhat different... I can only hope my Mother-in-law was referring to the Portuguese understanding when she purchased my gift! For more examples of amusing uses of English abroad visit

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