Interjections and Popular Expressions in Brazil


Looking up in different dictionaries, I’ve found some definitions for the word interjection. Though different one from another, they reached the same point: interjections are words or expressions that express feelings and emotions, sometimes emphatically.

Brazil aggregates characteristics that foment the invention of new words and popular expressions: its vast territory and creative, emotive and religiously influenced people. Most expressions and interjections showed here have religious background and are used countrywide. Others are more popular in some regions and can be pronounced in different ways depending on the place they are used.

1. “Afff..”. – comes from “Ave Maria” (Hail Mary), that turned into “Aff Maria” and then, “Aff“. It may indicate disapproval, insatisfaction or impatience.
e.g. Aff, are you going to talk about it again??

2. “Nossa!” – from “Nossa Senhora” (Our Lady). Can be also seen as “Nó!“,“Nooooooh!”, “Nossss” and “Nó Senhora!” and indicates amazement or astonishment.
e.g. Nossa, what a car!

3. “Vixe Maria!”- one more with religious background. Originaly “Virgem Maria”(Virgin Mary), also appears as “Vixe”,“ Víiii”, “Vixxxx”.
e.g. -Your mother is coming home and the room is a mess! -Vixe Maria!

4. “Meu Jesus!”(My Jesus)- it can also be “Ai Jesus!”(Oh Jesus), “Ai meu Jesus Cristinho!”(Oh my Jesus little Christ). All of them are used to show surprise or fear.
e.g. Washing the dishes, one of them falls into the ground. “Ai Jesus!”

5. “Humm!” – also seen as “Humm, sei não”(Hummmm, don’t know). Indicates doubt, disbelief regarding something or someone.
e.g. -Brad Pitt has just called you. -Humm!

6. “Ué!”- shows surprise, astonishment or questioning.
e.g. A friend Who should arrive at 10a.m.arrives at 8:00a.m. Someone says: “Ué, already here?”

7. “Então…”- used when there’s nothing else to say, when someone wants to change the topic of the conversation or start a new talk. It can be translated to English as “so”.
e.g. Então, when do you graduate?

8. “Porra!”- used in many different ways, it shows surprise, astonishment, contrariness, annoyance. It can be translated to English as “fuck”.
e.g. Porra, I’ve left my wallet at home!

There is a great number of interjections and popular expressions which are from specific regions in Brazil. One from the state of Bahia has become a movie : Ó pai, ó! (2007, written and directed by Monique Gardenberg). When the movie was released, people from other Brazilian states didn’t know the meaning of the expression. Journalists of one of the main TV news in Brazilcouldn’t get the right pronunciation of the expression. It is used to call someone’s attention about somthing and it means “Olha para isso, olha!”, in English “Look at this /that!”

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