25 de mar de 2016

Palavras Africanas / African Words

Brazilian Portuguese is full of words with African origin. Because the black people came to Brazil as slaves, however, they often are loaded with some bad connotation. The other day I started listing some that, to me, sounded African (I know I am being very loose and treating the different people as if they were all the same... but this is supposed to be a fast post =) ), and a friend called me racist because I could only remember words with bad connotation (actually, it was not true -- some words were food names, and he ignored them v__v). I wanted to put somewhere a list of them (so that I can close some tabs in my browser), and that is why I am posting this here.

The version in Portuguese of the article on Kimbundu (a language spoken by many of the slaves who came to Brazil) in Wikipedia has a list of many of the words I am looking for, like
  • muamba: anything that is cheap in another place that you bring home when coming back -- often without paying the taxes);
  • muleque: boy;
  • bunda: ass;
  • fubá: some corn flour/powder.
Another word, mandinga (a curse or a "spell"), comes from the Mandinka people in West Africa. Also, some places say that treta (previously, I always heard it as a "scheme", in sentences like tem treta nisso aí ["there is treta in this thing"], but nowadays it became some kind of "flamewar", and people say isso vai dar uma treta [this is gonna cause a huge treta]) is European, having versions in Spanish and French, while mutreta (this can only have the first scheme meaning) probably came from Kimbundu.

Finally, there are two words that confused me.
  • balangandã actually comes from just the sounds that heavy stuff hanging does. It should refer to some "ornaments" that women wear, but also sometimes is used as how "tough" some woman is, in sentences like não tem balangandã pra isso (i.e., "[this woman] doesn't have enough balangandã for this").
  • maracutaia, which is just a "fraud" or a "scheme" (just like mutreta above), was said to come from indigenous origins when proferred by our ex-president Lula in the 90's, but apparently it is unclear where it comes from.
In fact, finally, while this Facebook post is VERY inaccurate (apparently, they didn't take the trouble to check the origins of the words before writing those stuff), it has a list of at least interesting words that I suppose are not much used in Portugal. It is public, so you don't need Facebook to see it.

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