Tuesday, 19 May 2015

It Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Does #2/Brazilian Culture: Differences #7

In Brazil we have two words for the colour black. It’s important to understand how they’re used so as to avoid giving (or receiving) insult:


Negro is a word in Portuguese that means “black/dark”, and is usually only used when describing a living thing, the exception almost always being in poetry/songs if it fits better for rhyme/meter/etc. i.e. A CD of lullabies I had as a kid had a song whose title was Negro céu (”Dark Sky”).

The word for someone with dark skin is negro (pronounced “n’eh-gro”, not like “nee-gro” in English). 

To Brazilians the word negro has ZERO racist connotations. In fact, it’s the politically correct way to refer to someone who has dark skin.


The most commonly used word for the colour black in relation to objects/non-living things (and oftentimes animals too; i.e. gato preto - “black cat”). 

When used in reference to a person, it’s considered pejorative (unless used by someone who’s black).

No comments:

Post a Comment