Like magic eye pictures, languages can prove difficult. Even after years of practice, nonnative speakers can give themselves away with the slightest of errors. Since every day I am reminded that I cannot communicate as well as I would like to in this exotic wonderland known as Brazil via this mysterious arrangement of letters and sounds known as Portuguese, I thought I would take the time to share with you the things that are most difficult for Brazilians to grasp in English.
Pronunciation: (most of these never occurred to me until Brazilians brought them to my attention)
- Ear vs. Year
- Beach vs. Bitch: Quite hilarious.
- Ten vs. Tan: The ten tan men tan at ten.
- Sheet vs. Shit
- Tyler: it always becomes Taylor, even after the affirmation of a correct pronunciation.
- On vs. In: In Portuguese the word “em” is used to express both “on” and “in” and the abstract use of the two in English can prove quite tricky. For example, “he’s sick in the head” = he is crazy; “he’s sick on the head” = he had a rough night and/or ate bad fish.
- To do vs. To make: In Portuguese, the verb “fazer” is used to express the ideas of both “to do” and “to make”. This can be in issue in situations such as when PUC-Rio’s International Program Director told all the incoming foreigners that, “the best way to learn Portuguese is to do a Brazilian friend.” Even though this may be true, I believe some translation issues may have occurred.
There are likely many more examples that escape me at the moment, but I fear that the coco vs. coco and its brethren far outnumber the situations I could conjure up in English. Tô fudido.