Argentina vs. Brazil
Brazilian and Argentine Speakers at a Debt-for-Education Swap Seminar
Last night I returned from a two-day work trip to São Paolo. It was my second visit to
My busy schedule and fatigue due-to-illness left me with no time to sight-see. Nevertheless, I gained some more insight into a culture that fascinates me.
Argentine Spanish vs. Brazilian Portuguese
Unlike the pork-chopped peninsular Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese, particularly if spoken or sung by the right person, is one of the most beautiful sounds in the world.
I am able to read and understand about 95% of the Portuguese text I come across. Understanding Portuguese when spoken is another story. I comprehend about 50-70% of the Brazilian variety. I barely absorb any of the Peninsular brand.
I put my poor Portuguese skills to the test earlier this week. On Tuesday I was participating in a seminar on Debt-for-Education Swaps held by the Brazilian Ministry of Education at Bovespa (the Brazilian Stock Exchange). Before arriving, I wasn’t sure if simultaneous translation services were going to be provided.
I thought back to my meeting in
However, the last speaker spoke in a very congested, hasty Portuñol. I managed to capture about half of what he was saying. It was simply too awkward to stop him every time I didn’t understand something.
This time around in São Paolo, I was bit more worried about the language barrier. There would be around 100 people in attendance. I was to present on a panel of five ‘experts’ on the somewhat technical issue of debt-for-education swaps (a subject I will discuss in another post). Thankfully, arrangements had been made to provide personal translation devices to those in attendance.
I then noticed something peculiar.
I have long thought that Spanish is a much easier language to understand than Portuguese. But I also knew that my position on the matter was quite biased. My evidence had been based on the chafing sandpaper sounds I’ve heard (and mocked) in the streets and shops of
However, this time I had some objective proof. Firstly, the Argentines in attendance had a harder time understanding the Brazilians’ Portuguese than the Brazilians’ had understanding their Spanish. Secondly, the other Argentines on the panels simply conducted their presentations in Spanish (even if they knew enough Portuguese to muster up some Portuñol). They knew that practically none of the Brazilians in the audience would require the translation devices.
I later overheard several conversations between Brazilians and Argentines. I realized that even though we were in Brazil, it was the Brazilians who were making the effort to speak Portuñol as their southern neighbours spoke in their native tongue. A part of me thought – ‘Wow, this is quite arrogant (even for Argentines). Why is it that Brazilians are the ones going to greater lengths to communicate when we are the visitors in their country?’
I knew that Spanish was easier to understand for Portuguese speakers than the other way around. Yet it was still strange to experience this type of receptiveness to another nation’s language - especially, when it’s a neighbour that you’ve long considered a rival.
Argentine Fútbol vs. Brazilian Futebol
The beginning of Argentina vs. Brazil in Buenos Aires (on this occassion Argentina played an incredible game and won 3-1).
As I waited for my return flight to
What made the blow-out that much more unbearable was that only a month earlier I had attended a World Cup qualifying match in which
That victory had brought
Wednesday’s spectacular display put on by Adriano, Ronaldinho, Kaká, and company not only put Brazil ahead in this bitter rivalry, but also embarrassed an Argentine squad that appeared over-confident from their previous victory.
Brazil’s performance revealed that although the head-to-head record is a close one, when it comes to big games, they are in a class of their own. They have been crowned World Cup champs five times. Argentina has only claimed the honour twice.
Perhaps the hardest part to swallow about the defeat, is that the verde-amarelos celebrated the Confederation Cup (a relatively unimportant tournament) as if it were a World Cup final. Having humiliated Argentina may have had something to do with their jubilation.
While I have yet to visit any beaches, carnaval or Rio, I am already convinced that the most beautiful thing about Brazil is the way in which their eleven best footballers can soundly defeat any opponent, with unparalleled creativity, style, and sportsmanship. They do all of this under 180 million microscopes and still manage to maintain enormous smiles on their faces.