Friday, September 6, 2013

How to tell Brazil hates you (Angola, I mean you) - São Paulo

The new Brazilian ambassador to Angola in happier days.
So, I guess the post yesterday really whetted my appetite for political discussion. No, not really. But as always, I am sitting around having a coffee reading Folha de São Paulo-- and come across a story in the front section (A15 for those who like details) about the new ambassador to Angola. This is him: Jose Carlos Fonseca Jr.  The photo was taken when he was a representative in the Brazilian congress several years ago. 

Mr. Fonseca has an interesting political resume. He was elected in 1998 but he took a leave of absence so he could be secretary of the treasury for the state of Espirito Santo (the Holy Spirit state) for two years. After which he was convicted of "detouring" (I love this)  public money. But no worries, he got his job back as representative in 2001, but oops, he did it again and was convicted of "improbidade administrativa" (administrative misconduct) in 2010 and a little issue of "detouring" $R189,000 of public money.  He is appealing both sentences. 

Which makes him a great candidate to be ambassador to Angola. Right? Now if I were Angola, I might say "seriously, there's no one else? Collor, that impeached old president would do in a pinch..." Well, they did complain but they approved it with "contragosto." (against their appetite). I don't know, seems like maybe you wouldn't send a convicted criminal to be the relationship manager for a country where you (BNDES bank) financed Brazilian companies to the tune of US$2.7 billion. And has exported to your country US$1.14 billion of goods last year.

Angola, you deserve better.  In my eyes.


  1. I've gathered that you don't like Folha much but what's with the funky translations today? You are being too literal with "contragosto". Even Google Translate, which sometimes misses context, gives a more reasonable "unwillingly".

    Translating "desvio de verba" as "detour" isn't right because it's a legal term:
    "Detour" doesn't have the same meaning.

    OK, last one and then I'll stop, I promise. "Holy Spirit" is certainly correct, but it seems odd to translate it anyway. Imagine if Folha said "o estado cheio de flores" in an article about politics in Florida. Interesting fact but still a weird thing to mention, right?

  2. I love Folha. It's one of my best times all day. I even pay to have it delivered.

    Andrew, I am having fun. "Contra o gosto" is against your appetite. Literally. "Unwillingly" is a nice real translation. I do appreciate you keeping me honest, though it's not as much fun. I translate Piracicaba as Place where Fish Stop from the Tupi, but I'm guessing that literally isn't what the Tupi were going for. I enjoy Portuguese (and Tupi for that matter) because they are NOT my native languages though I am fluent in one of them.

    I have no defense on my translation of Espirito Santo. I love the name. I tend to have many asides in my blog--it is part of my style. I am sorry you don't enjoy that. I am not Folha though I appreciate the comparison--I can have fun with words, and they cannot. They are real news. I am not. I am a blog. Brazil in My Eyes. My Eyes.

    That's all from St. Paul.

  3. Ah, and I stand by my translation of "desvio" which is a definition of "detour" from the French. And appropriated by the English. A deviation from its course. A moving of money from where it is supposed to be (in public coffers) to one's pocket or your friends' pockets. I get that it is a legal term. In fact, once upon a time, I did research into judicial terms for a client and this was one of them. I am having fun. That is all.

  4. I don't mean to be a killjoy. I like your play on Piracicaba and St. Paul should be used more often (if anything, to stop so many foreign newspapers writing "Sao Paolo").

    I only bring it up because the casual reader of your blog might think Folha is being casual or whimsical with serious political news like that. I rather like Folha although they've made it almost impossible for me to continue reading it with their paywall.

    1. Okay. Seems that maybe I should stop talking about the real news again. I seem to have a better response from photos of rivers and stuff.

      I enjoy Folha too. Especially some of the opinion writers: Helio, for one.

  5. And in my defense, blogs are the new news sources. If a foreigner wants to learn about Sao Paulo, what are they going to read? Folha which is in portuguese, The New York Times which has one story about Brazil a year (about Carnaval, I'm sure - I know I exagerate but still) or your blog and a few others? Personally, I'm going with blogs.

    1. And I think you're right on the news through blogs. I think that my blog is not one people should take too seriously, though. I don't. And if I stop enjoying doing it, I will stop writing it. The NYT does not have that luxury ;)

  6. You are making fun of the language and implying that the language (or the people who use it) are idiots. That's the problem if you making literal translations and taking things out of context. Or not doing your research to see where expressions come from and making fun of them (pois não)

  7. I am sorry you feel that way, Anonymous. That is not my intention. I love the Portuguese language. I love in particular the Brazilian Portuguese language that has wonderful expressions about cats climbing walls, or doing little cows (faz uma vaquinha), etc. Of course the literal translations don't work on these--it is slang, and probably should not be translated at all. As a foreigner resident 8 years total here, I am trying to have fun with some of this -- "pois não" as you brought up, is a funny one, and I hope you can agree with that. No, I did not know the roots of the expression though someone here told me it. Foreigners coming for a visit might be taken aback by someone saying to them "pois não? as a way of saying "yes?".

    The challenge for me, Anonymous, is walking a line between enjoying the complexities of a foreign language without insulting my hosts. Including my Brazilian husband, by the way. I see that I have fallen over the line, in your eyes. As I have said before, and I will say again: this is Brazil in MY eyes. I am not saying I am the source of truth about this language or this country--I am not. And I would never suggest that Brazil is full of idiots. I would imagine they exist in the same proportion as in my country. I welcome anyone writing about the USA in their eyes.

    In terms of the Tupi language translations, there is very little I can do about literal translations that I get from google or from my Tupi-Portuguese dictionary (yes, I do have one). If you have anyone that speaks Tupi that could help, I'm all ears.