I have a category on blog called language fails where write posts about funny language related episodes I’ve been a part of or come across, however there has been a particular series I’ve wanted to write about for some time now. This series has all to do with my experience of working with Brazilians and the odd expressions they use and how these left me in a state of constant confusion.
What made this even more frustrating to me is that I do not like expressions. I’m a straight talking kind of guy so using expressions and idioms is something I avoid, and dislike when people use them with me because this requires a knowledge of expression and/or a penchant for deciphering nonsense, both of which I do not posses.
Now just because I don’t enjoy them, does not mean others don’t (to my complete despair). Afrikaaners in South Africa love idioms, but forget that only they know them, so when someone told me that I had hair on my teeth, I felt deeply offended and almost started an argument, only to find out it means you are very patient.
Brazilians love expressions too and also conveniently forget that only they know them, which is how this series of ‘Language Fails’ came to be. In the weekly installments of this series I will blog about the various expressions and translations which caused some funny and sometimes distressing episodes. This week we look at the expression “Send the Bullet”.
“If you think you are ready to sign the contract, then send the bullet!”
The first time I heard this expression, I became very concerned for my own well-being. Thoughts about having to hire a lawyer crossed my mind due to the legal implications of being asked to shoot someone for a conrtactor or the implication that your superiors condone violence in the work place.
My initial reaction to this was an instinctive widening of the eyes. First of all, I had no idea what the expression meant, so the immediate instinct was to take it literally, which caused the widening of eyes and worry. My colleague who used the expression saw the concern in my eyes and knowing that I had a history of misunderstanding Brazilian Expressions, asked me if I knew what he meant.
In the attempt to not be ridiculed I thought I would sidestep the issue with a very vague “Yes I know what it means…”. Well, fortunately or unfortunately (still not sure what is worse), he didn’t call my bluff and went on to clarify the expression before I went off to find contract killers.
To my relief I was explained that “Send the Bullet” is a direct translation of the Brazilian expression “Mandar Bala” which basically means “go for it!”. Isn’t it obvious??