Sunday, February 24, 2013

Batmilk and Other Bloopers

Anyone brave enough to try it?

Like it or not, when you interact with people who speak a language other than your own, you are going to gather a collection of bloopers - some will be mistakes that you make yourself as you speak the foreign  language and others will be mistakes that those around you make as they attempt to speak your mother tongue.  It wasn’t too long ago, during elections in the States, that a Brazilian asked me what it meant when Americans called so and so politician "spineless". I thought about it and answered that it means he doesn’t have any "espinhas". The words "spine" and "espinha" have similarities, and at that moment I was pretty sure their definitions were also similar. The Brazilian looked at me with a puzzled expression on his face and asked if I was sure. I thought about it a bit more and said "yes". The man left, and approximately fifteen minutes later I realized that I had said that the politician in question didn't have any pimples. "Espinha" I remembered means pimple and "coluna" means spine.  As so many others are, this slip of the tongue was embarrassing!! However, the best thing you can do is laugh at yourself and go on.  

Translation jewel on a toy box.
I wish I could honestly say that the above mistake was one of the few I have made, but the truth is that it joins a very long line of mistakes that I and my family have made over the years. My Dad, poor fellow, often speaks in public and so many of his Portuguese mistakes are made in front of an audience. The Portuguese word for calf is “bezerro”, while the word for beetle is “besouro”, and their pronunciation is differentiated by the sound of one vowel. Dad has often slipped up as he preaches and said that Moses came down the mountain and found the people of Israel worshipping a golden beetle. The audience chuckles or sometimes even laughs out loud and Dad knows to rewind a little bit and exchange the word “besouro” for “bezerro”. A missionary wife we know once confused the word for hand with the word for mother and taught a group of children that Moses held up his mother and the Red Sea parted leaving dry land. Then there was the time that Dad and my brothers had cleaned up a river bank in preparation for a baptism, and they were telling some folks about what all was involved  in that and they jokingly added that they had skinned all the crocodiles, except they said “shaved” instead of “skinned”.

House of News - That's a strange name for a clothes store!
The mistakes that Brazilians make as they speak English are also priceless. One of my Dad’s first English students used to tell him all about her neggyboris. Her neggyboris did this and her other neggyboris said that, and Dad finally understood what she meant when he asked her to spell neggyboris. She spelled n-e-i-g-h-b-o-r. There is also an English teacher who honestly thought that when you speak of your left foot you use the word “foot” and when referring to your right foot you should use the word “feet”.  The Portuguese word “entre” means “come in” in certain contexts and in other contexts it means “between”. There was one fellow who very hospitably encouraged his English speaking guest to “Between! Between!”. A myriad of funny English mistakes come into being, when Brazilians run something written in Portuguese through an online translator. We had one man back in April, who kindly ran his email through an online translator before sending it to us. Here is what we received:

Hello friend how are you?
    Salute you…when will yousend an email to your friend? Lo, I am waiting brother.

   Friend’s new berth on the new worker who comes to Ramos Nereus? I know he’s hiding a lot from me, but I look forwardto the patience friend to write something.

                             Awaiting the big news,
                                Mr. Alviçareiras
                               …and to the next.

We promptly wrote the man back in Portuguese  and asked how we could help him.

Our collection of bloopers also includes a few mistakes that we have found in hotels and restaurants along the way. There is one restaurant in São Paulo near an airport that translated their menu into English for any English speaking patrons that might wander in. The menu includes among other things:
-         Italian Salad (which includes lettuce, rocket, black olives, buffalo cheese, and sun dried tomatoes)
-         Steak with garlic butter, rice, vegetables, and potatoes of paprika
Following your meal you might enjoy one of the following:
-         Three icecream scoops with chocolate syrup, cream, and biscuit
-         Coffeepot, milk, tea or hot chocolate
There is also a hotel which offers a number of complimentary hygiene articles. The list includes: cottonballs, Q-tips, disposable razor, and sandpaper…huh….Sandpaper? We thought and thought about this one, but couldn’t imagine what they meant to say until we looked at the Portuguese version of the list. The Portuguese list included fingernail files and no sandpaper.

Penkwives are hazardous and prohibited on airplanes!
We learned years ago that Brazilian food companies like to include English in the names of their products. That is how “Batmilk” came to be sold in the dairy aisle at our grocery store. The dairy company, Batavo, wanted a catchy name for their new yogurt and they came up with “Batmilk”. I have no doubt that to Brazilians “Batmilk” brings to mind a good quality strawberry yogurt, but to this American that name produces a mental picture of a shiny, clean dairy with nocturnal mammals hanging from the ceiling. Many food companies also include the English translation of the list of ingredients, nutritional value, and other info on their product’s packaging, even if their products aren’t exported to English speaking countries. There is an instant coffee label that assures you that if you add two spoons to a cup of hot water and stir, you will have a nice cup of hot coffee.  One cookie company informs you in Portuguese on their rolls of filled cookies that these are “bolachas recheadas” which means “filled cookies”, however, when they translate that into English they call them “cream sandwich biscuits”.

I personally prefer non-music songs :)
The icing on the blooper cake, though, in my opinion is the box of seasoned peanuts that my sister and I found one day at the grocery store while waiting in a long line to checkout. In a bright splash of yellow on the upper corner of the box, the company informed us that their peanuts now come in an “intelligent box”. A little further down the box, we learn that “one who eats never forgets”. Little do they know, but there is an American family out there who has never eaten their peanuts and yet they have never forgotten them.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Wedding Pictures

Alright, here is a special  post about Daniel and Sabrina's wedding for all of those who are awaiting news and pictures. As you read it, please keep in mind that I am writing it after traveling all night and that all the pictures were taken by unofficial  photographers, so please forgive any mistakes that may have gone unnoticed. :)

The wedding took place yesterday (Jan. 12th) at a "sitio" in Jundiaí. A sitio here in Brazil is usually a large piece of land that may have a few cows and even a garden on it, but it is usually used for recreational purposes. This sitio in particular had a lake with paddle boats, soccer field, horses, dormitories and several buildings which can be rented for special events. 

Sabrina originally wanted an outdoor wedding, so they rented this sitio and planned to have the ceremony on a lawn near the lake. However, three days before the wedding Jundiaí began having heavy rains to the point that several neighborhoods were at risk of experiencing mudslides.  The wedding ceremony was eventually moved to a covered deck near the lake.

Sabrina with help from her family did as many of the preparations for the wedding as she could. For starters, she made all the wedding invitations by hand. Here is a link to a video of her making one of the invitations if you would like to see it:

Sabrina helped her dad make the podium that was used for the ceremony...

....and she helped her mom make the chocolate and coconut candies which were served after the reception. Sabrina also took care of all the flower arrangements.

The Sukerth family also put together a special glass table for the wedding cake.

The finished cake table was very nice! Underneath the table Henrique, Sabrina's brother, put a small platform with colorful LED lights in it. This allowed the platform and the cake table to be always changing colors.

Now I don't want you to think that Daniel was lazy in the months leading up to the wedding so I will include some pictures of what he was busy with. :) Just as soon as he decided to propose to Sabrina, Daniel began looking for a house in São José dos Campos, which is where he works and attends church. The cost of housing in the booming city of São José is very high. Daniel quickly discovered that buying a house was out of the question and renting a house would be difficult. After reading the classifieds multiple times and looking into every option he could find, Daniel found a small house where he could rent the top floor.

As you can tell, the house wasn't in the best shape, but structurally it is a good house, so Daniel set to work fixing it up. He varnished the wooden ceilings, learned to do some electrical repairs, sanded and repainted the gate, and even put in a wall with the help of a brother from his church.

You will also be glad to know that he exchanged the  horrible green paint for several coats of a nice off-white paint.

The wedding ceremony was supposed to begin at 5:30 yesterday afternoon, but it ended up running a little late. This is not unusual in Brazil. Some folks even believe that if a bride arrives late to her wedding, it brings good luck. :) In Daniel and Sabrina's case, though, a good number of guests were still arriving a good fifteen or twenty minutes after starting time, so we all just had to wait.

Thankfully the time we waited gave us an opportunity to take a family picture....

....and it gave Benjamin and Daniel plenty of time to stand on the platform. :)

Yes, that is right! My older brother Ben came to Brazil in order to officiate at Daniel's wedding. I wondered, at first, if the eleven years Ben spent in the States would make his Portuguese rusty. But it didn't! At Daniel and Sabrina's request, Ben preached an excellent message on the need to have Christ first of all as Saviour and then also as the center of our marriages and homes.

The wedding ceremony began shortly after 6 p.m. Due to where I was sitting, I wasn't able to get pictures of many people coming down the aisle, but I did get this picture of Sabrina and her dad walking by.

Daniel and Sabrina sat on a park bench while Ben preached.

After the preaching was done, Daniel and Sabrina stood up and two little girls brought the rings up the aisle. Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of  what happened, but it was a funny point in the wedding so I must tell you about it. The two little girls are sisters and they were very cute in their matching dresses. The older sister is ten years old and the younger one is just learning to walk. The littlest one did pretty well taking her baby steps next to her big sister for the first half of the aisle, but then she must have gotten tired and kept wanting to sit down on the floor after every two steps. The older girl did pretty well at first lifting the little one up and getting her to take another few steps, but about three benches from the end of the aisle the little girl couldn't walk any more. Her sister's vigorous tugging on her arm produced no results, so Ben stepped off the platform, lifted the little girl to her feet, and with one little hand holding onto her sister and the other little hand holding Ben's fingers, she made it to the end of the aisle. The rings, by the way, were carried down the aisle in a wooden box which Daniel made to use when he asked Sabrina to marry him.

After rescuing the little girl, Ben stepped back up on the platform and performed the vows. I was able to film that part of the ceremony. Unfortunately, my blog doesn't want to upload the video, so I will post a link to it here: 
I suggest you watch it, because right before their kiss Daniel and Sabrina gave the audience a surprise. :)
You might have noticed the rain in the video. January is the month of rain here in Brazil, and even though there were a lot of people hoping that the wedding day would be overcast but dry, it rained for the greater part of the day. Thankfully most of the time the rain was a light drizzle, but the rain became heavy during the last part of the wedding ceremony. During this heavy rain, the bride and groom were sprayed on their backs and a gutter overflowed and came gushing down onto the platform and generously sprayed Ben's pant legs, but everything continued on. During the reception I overheard two ladies jokingly say that Sabrina must have eaten out of a pan several times. It seems there is a Brazilian saying which states that if a bride eats directly out of a pan there will be rain during the wedding. :)

Following the conclusion of the wedding ceremony, we all moved to the adjoining building where the reception was going to be held. Sabrina's colors were for the most part various shades of pink, but the tables and chairs for the reception had been done in brown and white with a pot of pink violets as a centerpiece.

Here is a closeup of the table decorations. The white paper with the little bride and groom on it is actually a menu telling about what is going to be served.

The meal that was served was especially creative. Sabrina began the planning process for the reception by looking into various catering services, but they were all too pricey. Then she stumbled across this company called "Pizza Architects".

The "Pizza Architects" make their own pizzas, and then pack the pizzas and their own oven up and take them to the events that they are catering. The idea was creative and the price affordable, so Sabrina hired them to do the reception.

During the first hour and a half after the wedding, the "Architecs" served a variety of meat, cheese, and even vegetable pizzas. At our table we had a pizza with tuna and onions, another with zucchini and cheese, a very common one with pepperoni, and an uncommon one that had sliced hot dogs and shoestring potatoes. They were all good. Later in the evening, the "Architecs" began passing around sweet pizzas, which included a pizza with strawberries and chocolate sauce, a banana pizza sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, and a Romeo and Juliet pizza, which has cheese and guava jam.

While we were busy enjoying the pizza, Daniel and Sabrina took a lot of pictures,...

....walked around the room greeting people, and then Daniel had to sell a tie.

It is customary at Brazilian weddings for the groom's buddies to gang up on him, put an old tie around his neck and lead him around the room asking the male guests for donations. When a guest makes a donation, the groom's buddies cheer loudly and give the guest a piece of the groom's tie.

You should have heard all the wild cheering and clapping that went on when on when Ben donated a ten dollar bill!

Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Gardner

And that folks is the end of my pictures! Daniel and Sabrina are away on their honeymoon in Campos do Jordão, which is a pretty tourist city nestled among the hills not so very far from Jundiaí. The rest of us, with the help of coke, chocolate, and the alphabet game, traveled all night to come home. :)