Engrish in Brasil thus far (and other nice mixes of language that I find funny):
The cat litter we originally used was called “limpi cat” and now we use “cat bom.” The latter seems more appropriate considering some of the things we have cleaned out of that box.
When looking for a traditional U.S. can opener, I came across a suction cup toilet paper holder that was labeled “Fiction cup.” The suction cup actually existed, however.
There is a chewing gum here called “Happy Dent.” Happy teeth, I know, but saying a dent is happy is so much funnier.
A neighborhood area in Rio Vermelho has a sign labeling it as “snuggly.” The buildings are close together, but I don’t get a snuggly fresh feeling from being there. (if you get this reference, then I know you have watched many television commercials during the 80’s and 90’s and possibly do laundry)
I noticed the other day that the dish towel in our kitchen says “eggs are pop.” I’m not sure what that means to Brasilians, but to someone from Michigan, pop is a carbonated drink – known in some other parts of the country as soda or Coke. Meuamor says “It means eggs are popular, like every likes them and eats them.” Okay, yeah sure…
Gestures have tripped me up more than once here as well. It is difficult to describe them, but I will attempt.
There are two very similar gestures that involve the shaking of the hand in the air, with the pointer finger and the thumb together as if they are holding something. If you wave this gesture across a strait line at the waiter, it means “please bring me the check.” If you wave this gesture in a somewhat diagonal or downward motion, apparently this means something related to smoking a joint.
Waving good bye, with your fingers stretched out strait and then closing the hand so they meet the palm, opening again, closing again, etc, has been tripping me up repeatedly. This is the most common way for me to say “good bye” to students as they leave the room, or people at work as they leave the building. What it often results in, however, is the student or person returning to my side, wanting to know what I want, since here this gesture means exactly the opposite – “come here.” Before someone clued me into this (I believe it was some time in July) I had caused tremendous amounts of confusion to both myself and my students and coworkers several times over. I still forget much of the time and have to explain to people what I mean when they come running back to my side. The problem is that gestures are so NATURAL, it’s difficult to change them. I think I may have to change my good byes to be verbal only.
Today we were discussing American foods that we missed and now I feel inspired to bake things that you cannot find here. However, I’m still afraid of the oven and I am sure that being South of the equator is not going to make a difference in my amazing ability to burn things, so I think that the baking will have to wait till I can get some supervision and assistance – i.e. not tonight. I want my cook book. It’s still in Michigan, with my mother. Who needs a cookbook when you have your mother? Now I’m here and I have neither. The cook book would be cheaper to send here, so I’ll settle for that temporarily