A not-so-fun game of telephone

Alexander Graham Bell and his first telephone. (I am similarly confused by the phone here, but not because of technology.)

This is going to be my first (of what I assume will be many) entry about me stumbling through life in a new country that I’m still trying to figure out every day. Now you can enjoy the hilarity of me being a foreigner!

Every so often, I find myself in a pickle: The phone rings, and I’m home alone. Now generally I’m not afraid of the phone. In fact, I quite like it. But it’s a little different here, since Portuguese is not my first language. (It’s actually the third I’m trying to learn fluently, fifth if you count my attempt to learn Spanish and Russian during my brief time at the University of Toronto.) I understand Portuguese fairly well now, since I’ve been in Brazil for almost eight months, but thinking of the right words to respond is a little hard. It usually goes a little like this:

Boa noite. Pode falar com Caio, por favor? (Good evening. Can I speak to Caio, please?)

Caio não está aqui agora. (Caio isn’t here right now.)

Você pode (mumble mumble mumble) por favor? (Can you <mumble mumble mumble> please?)

Desculpe, não entendo. Não sou brasileira. Sou canadense. Pode falar um pouco mais devagar, por favor? (Sorry, I don’t understand. I’m not Brazilian. I’m Canadian. Can you speak a little slower, please?)

(Really fast talking that I don’t understand because they clearly didn’t listen to a word I said.)

And that’s a good call. Forget it if the person on the phone is from the north east. That is one accent I just can’t wrap my head around. (Of course, 99% of the time the person is from the north east.) But I refuse to be discouraged. Apparently I learn a lot faster than most people do, so I’m hoping once I start taking Portuguese classes again (they start in February!), I’ll become a pro. (Encouragement, tips and prayers to whichever god(s) you believe in are welcome. I need all the help I can get.)


Filed under Brazil, Language/Portuguese

2 responses to “A not-so-fun game of telephone

  1. Tyler

    Renee got me an Italian learning kit for Christmas. Hoping to pick it up as fast as you’ve picked up Portuguese!

    • You can do it! My advice would be to find an Italian friend and talk to them a lot. If you don’t know any Italian people, go down to College, just east of Ossington. There’s this little bar (I can’t remember the name) and it’s full of old Italian, Portuguese and Brazilian men watching soccer 24/7. Watch with them. If you can understand an old man, you’re set.

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