Fotocrônica: Lost in Translation

My husband once quipped that he’s yet to see a t-shirt in Brazil that has decorative words in Portuguese on it. Everything is in English. Y’know what? I spend a lot of time people-watching as I work the market every Saturday and he’s right. There’s church t-shirts and marketing for local businesses–those are all in Portuguese–but anything decorative is always in English.  Maybe a smattering of French.

Of course, the translations aren’t always so accurate. Brazilians love English, but as a rule they’re not so hot at it. For example, the TV commercial announcer reads “Project Runway” as “Project RUNAWAY.”  This was entertaining the first time; now after multitudes of commercial breaks it makes me grit my teeth.  This dude gets paid to speak correctly, for crying out loud.

The English on the clothing is great however because it provides me with entertaining reading wherever I go. I’m usually pretty sure that people don’t know exactly what their clothing says. My eyes are always peeled for a fun piece of incongruity.

This week I loved this typo sported by a 70+ elderly man in the front seat of my taxi ride–“NYEW YORK.”  Of course, that’s how it sounds in Portuguese, so why not?  I’d bet you R$5 that he and his family never even noticed.

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  1. My favourite was sitting in the airport at a coffee shop in SP and seeing a seemingly normal, average family sit opposite me, with the youngest child of about 5 wearing a t-shirt that on the back had: “What the fuck?”. Awesome.

    • LOL. That’s great! My all-time favorite was one I saw in Ecuador: a very seemingly macho guy strutting down the street in a t-shirt that said “Mommy’s Little Angel and Daddy’s Little Princess.”

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