Learn Brazilian

5 Feb


By Diego


  • Blackout, power cut, power failure..

Na prática, para evitar um novo apagão elétrico, criou-se um novo apagão: o de gás.

In pratice, to avoid a new eletrical blackout, they created a new power failure: the gas one.

The word apagão comes from the verb apagar ‘to switch off’. It was coined in 2001 to describe the severe eletrical power cuts at the time. The same word is also used for other kinds of ‘switching off’ or power failure, for example o apagão aéreo, to describe the critical situation at Brazilian airports with long delays, overbooking and cancelled flights.

The suffix –ão is often used in Portugueses as an augmentative. An augmentative increases the quality of the original word, often indicating a larger size. For example:

Forte – strong        fortão – very strong

Centro – centre     centrão – big centre.

Augmentatives are very popular in Brazil. An important football championship is the brasileirão and some famous football statioums are the Mineirão in Belo Horizonte, the barradão in Salvador, and the Engenhão in Rio de Janeiro.

Names of stores also commonly adopt augmentatives, like Drogão, Feirão, Ponto Frio Bonzão and there is a popular Sunday TV programme called Domingão do Faustão. The most common augmentatives are masculine -ão and the feminine -ona. For example:

Um jogo – a game       um jogão – a great game.

Uma mesa – a table   uma mesona – a big table.

Strangely enough, the masculine augmentative can also sometimes be used with a feminine noun. The noun then becomes grammatically masculine with a meninine meaning. For example:

Uma mulher – a woman.

Um mulherão – a big woman(normally used by men rather than woman to describe a woman).

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