Vocab: know your desafios, buracos and buracadas

Here are some news items and related vocabulary that caught my eye while reading Portuguese media this morning.

1) From BBC Brasil:

Screen shot of BBC Brasil

Screen shot from BBC Brasil website

Enfrentar means to face, to meet, confront, stand up to (there are many en- verbs in the language) and desafio (the word I wasn’t too sure of) means a challenge or contest, derived from the verb desafiar, to challenge, defy, provoke, dare, incite, spur on.

Screen shot from BBC Brasil website

Screen shot from BBC Brasil website

The story is about a chegada de barcos cheios de imigrantes pobres e desesperados (the arrival of boats full of poor and desperate immigrants). This has been a big issue in Australia for a good decade now and too often politics overshadows basic human principles. ‘Treat others the way you would like people to treat you or treat your mother’ is a good philosophy to have in life. I hope one day we will live in a world where people have nothing to fear or flee, but humanity seems to be moving in the opposite direction.

On a more cheerful and entertaining note, though, desafio is often used to mean a musical challenge. Here, for example, is a stirring routine from some contestants in um desafio de bateriasa drumming and percussion contest – in the state of Paraná in southern Brazil. They’re pretty good!

2) From Portal R7:

Screen shot from Portal R7

Screen shot from Portal R7

OMG! The sun is starting the new year with an enormous buraco a hole, gap, hollow, cavity, gully aperture, pit, loophole, etc. What’s going on? Fortunately, the sun is not caving in on itself. The story says o fenômeno ocorre quando a parte externa do astro fica com uma densidade de plasma menor que as outras regiões e, por isso, brilha menos, criando a impressão de ter um buraco (the phenomenon occurs when the density of the plasma on the external part of the star is less than in the other regions and, as a result, shines less, creating the impression of having a cavity).

Um buraco de fechadura is a keyhole (fechar means to shut), and buraco can be used figuratively to mean a disappointment, embarrassment or trouble.

In Brasil, it is also the name of a game of cards, a type of Canasta. According to Wikipedia, “the game is popular in the Arab world, specifically in the Persian Gulf; where it is known as ‘Baraziliya’ (Brazilian)“.

IMG_1209The reason this word caught my eye is that I have been playing Mahjong on my computer recently, and buracos is the name of one of the games (I have chosen Portuguese as the default language on my computer). It is in the Avançado section,  – it seems I am a pretty good player. This is what it looks like* – can you see the cavities?

There is a feminine form of the word, uma buraca, which signifies a big hole/gap, and in Brasil also means a leather sack used by mule and cattle drovers, while uma buracada means a rough, uneven track of land or a road with lots of potholes.

* Footnote

Apologies, the pic is very blurred. But after wasting a good half hour experimenting and looking at YouTube tutorials of how to take a screenshot of an app in Windows 8 (the most user-unfriendly and least intuitive version of Windows I have encountered) I gave up and just took a photo of my screen with my phone, but it had trouble focusing clearly on the image. That’s buracos for you!


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