Brazilian Challenge Day 169: So… what?!

Brazilians like to cut corners. Except for, or perhaps because of, Brazilian bureaucracy, the fastest and easiest way is the only way to get to something.

They do the same in regards to names. No matter what the name, they try and get it down to the fewest syllables possible. I’ve often had people do this with my name and I hate it it’s OK. But in Brazil, the name can be whittled down to something almost unrecognizable.

My daughter’s name is Sophia. When her cousin was small, she called my daughter Fia – cute! Too many syllables for my new culture, they call my daughter So.

Yesterday, Day 169 of my challenge to be more Brazilian, and day three of the second layer of my challenge to do this in the U.S., I decided to refer to my child as So.

Despite the fact that she had multiple people calling her “So” every day for nearly two years, my first few attempts were completely ignored. When I finally got her attention, she look at me and said, “So… what?!” I explained that I was referring to her by her Brazilian nickname. She shook her head with, “Oh, mommy.” And walked away. Any subsequent attempts were again ignored. I received curious glances from my family during this process, and I explained. But you know when you explain something to someone, and you can see that they understand what you are saying, but still don’t have a clue about why you would do it, but are too polite to straight out ask. This was like that.

Her cousin caught on a yelled “So” at her enough times to make it really annoying and she got to ignore him too. Makes me wonder how often she is ignoring the Brazilians when they call her So.

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9 Responses to Brazilian Challenge Day 169: So… what?!

  1. This reminds me of when I was referred to as Mr. Awesome: sure it was endearing; but it isn’t my name. I think people take too many liberties with nicknames in Brazil. I find it rude, and somewhat authoritarian for one person to decide that this is how you will be called. The only people who should do that are parents.
    I have decided that Mr. Awesome is ok though (but it was my decision). So all you fans out there can start calling me that if you wish.

  2. Danielle says:

    Hahaha, mine gets shortened to Dã, and with the nasal A, it just sounds a little retarded.

    Perhaps your daughter already perceives the different O phonemes and you’re not making the right one? Portuguese Os are the bane of my existence. I was at the post office once, and the guy was finishing up with my stuff and as he was turning to look to the lady next to him, he said “sô?” I figured he was talking to me and just not looking at me (not unheard of with Brazilian customer service drones), so I said “Só isso!” and he turned back to me and chuckled and said, “No, I was talking to her. Her name is Solange.” Whoops.

    So just so you know, there’s ó, ô, and ou, and the last one is more like the English “so” (but still not the same). If people say “Só” for Sofia, they might be using ó or ô. Have a native speaker show you because I sure as heck can’t.

    • Yes, this is an excellent possibility. But she usually take ever opportunity she can to correct my pronunciation. So when I explained to her that I was referring to her by her Brazilian nickname, she most likely would use that opportunity to correct me. Or… she is just totally over it and doesn’t care. HA!

      • Sarah says:

        Danielle, that reminds me: once my daughter and her little Brazilian cousin were correcting each other over how to pronounce “Dora” – as in Dora the Explorer. Although my daughter speaks fluent Portuguese, she only hears about Dora the Explorer in English, so I assume she was pronouncing it as in English. I was astounded – to me the two pronunciations sounded exactly the same, other than the R. I eventually figured out that they must have been discussing the sound of the O (maybe in combination with the R, of course, but that I can hear.) Any thoughts on this? (It is possible that they were just randomly fighting and I am reading too much into the conversation of four-year-olds!) I understand that the different sounds exist and can differentiate avó from avô by emphasizing the avaaaaw part, but that’s as far as my efforts go!

        • Danielle says:

          Hi Sarah,

          I just made Alexandre say the word “Dora” in Portuguese so I could do a test. (Much better than doing translation work!) It’s true that the Os are different between English “Dora” and Portuguese “Dora”, and it’s also true that English combines its vowels with its Rs (so we have things called rhotic vowels, which is what you’re hearing in English “Dora”. The result is that it’s hard to separate the English syllables as Do-Ra, even though that’s technically how the English syllables should be separated).

          Anyway anyway, the point is you’re right! The O in Portuguese “Dora” is like the O in Vovó. It’s this sound:

          Some East Coast Americans make this sound in the word “caught”. Try to say “caught” like a New Englander, and you’ll get it.

          Your daughter is so lucky for learning both as a child and having her brain accept them all as different phonemes!

          Hope that helped!

          • My daughter ALWAYS corrects my pronunciation of “Monica.” It’s a cartoon character here, and no matter what, I can seem to do it “right.” Definitely the “o” sound that’s impossible for me.

        • I’m so glad that she is learning all this now. I’ll never get it!

  3. Danielle says:

    Also, accept vs except! I know you know. Just helpin’ a girl out. You can delete this comment. xo

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