Monday, May 28, 2007


You know what makes your brain hurt? An English speaker going to a German class in Portuguese. Wow. So in German class today, I understood everything the professor was saying, perfectly. I could not responsd, except in english or "not english." In this case, "not english" means a combination of Portuguese and German. It was pretty funny for the German teacher because he really understood what was going on. Most of the Brazilians just thought my German wasn't stellar, when it's really the best in the class. Only the professor, who speaks both languages, was able to understand (after some explanation) what was going on inside my mind. Effectively, I was improvising a pidgin, and was doing so with great ease. This was not as cool as it might sound, it might have been had there been some one there to converse with me and understand me, but hey, if I want to talk in tongues with an interpreter, I'll just go to a Penecostal rally.

Imagine, somebody who looks Chinese walked up to you and said in Spanglish: "De onde is el baƱo? Me excuse, yo nesseceited ir before vamos." That's what I was doing; looking American while mixing and switching German and Portuguese words and grammar. Let's look at my answer to the question: "Why don't you want to live in Jamaica" (yes, my professor asked me this, in German... my task was to respond in German).

Porque, as Volke fummen zu viel... the desired response was "Weil rauchen die Volke zu viel" I don't want to live in Jamaica, because "the people smoke too much." This is the highest level of humor I command in my pidgin tongue. I used Portuguese grammar, and the first two words are portuguese. Words 3,5,6 are german... but the real beauty is ol' number 4. Let me break down fummen for you:
To smoke = fumar (port) = rauchen (ger)
fumar X rauchen = fummen
I know how to say headache in 3 languages.
A note to those curious on the lack of stories about Brazil: I am having a great time in Brazil, but I've never liked posting about normal everyday things on my blog, and well that's a lot of what's happening. These normal everyday things are mostly educational for me, but they don't really make great blog droppings. I could bore you to death talking about the tiny differences I notice, but in reality I rarely know how cultural a difference is (the difference could just be the individual or the event, not necessarily representativ of Brazilian culture). To exacerbate the lack of exciting brasilian blog deopsits, I have really been chilling out down here. Not partying much, just studying, running, and researching (usually reading, but with minor forays into the world of numbers). Today is a good example, I went to the University from 10AM -8PM, I had 6 hours of class, worked on a group project, and in my downtime read the first two chapters of a text book on cartography that I found in the biblioteca. When I got home, I ran 4K did some sit-ups, push-ups, and core strength, then settled down to create this digital gem. I'm loving life down here, but in general, I feel In God We Trust demands more articulation for my personal growth.


Blogger charlie said...

I've found that I default to German vocab and grammar when I can't figure out something in Japanese, even though it's been 5 years since I took any German. I think the brain lumps everything into English and Not English categories or, more generally, Me/My and Not Me/MY categories. I think that hints further at human nature as a whole and in which can be found the motivations and justifications for immoral behavior. But it's hard to prove.

8:25 PM  
Blogger Brady said...

human nature...interesting...
I'm curious to see if my thoughts become separated, and I have 3 distinct liguistic areas... or if they just mix and I have 1 area with all 3 but the ability to manage it.

5:14 PM  

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