Friday, April 27, 2012

Cultural Quirks and Perks - Vol. II

Hello?! That was a stop sign!

Here's a quick **Goiano Portuguese lesson...

Oi [pronounced: "oy"] = Hi

Hola [pronounced: "oh-lah"] = Hello

There is also a funny (and sometimes pretty rude) way to use "Oi!?" as slang, which is the not-too-distant cousin of the "Hello!?" used by teenage girls in the United States.

U.S. teen girls when you are overlooking the obvious:

"Hello!!" (Variant:"Um, hello!")

Goiás peeps when they don't understand what you just said:

(*Often yelled loud enough so that onlookers can help in deciphering the next go at it.)

And, no... This isn't only reserved for foreigners with accents. It's for anyone & everyone, and for some reason I find it either hilarious, or annoying - it all depends on how it is delivered. Sometimes it's way harsh, guys.

Depending on the intonation and [deliberate] volume it, more often than not, reminds me of a testy teen queen with a 'tude. It can be a major manners misstep. (So rude!)

More than once I've fought the urge to pull a Cher and exclaim, "As IF!" [in English - just for fun]. Of course, just imagining this scenario usually makes me giggle so much that it's all I can do to get through the rest of the conversation without drawing any additional, unnecessary attention.

You see, the "Oi" in this case serves as a "What's your problem!?" (aka "You can't speak normally.") or even, "Hey! Gather 'round people! Look at the loser who's wasting my time." People are generally pretty nosy, so this is a sure way to draw a crowd. (If you're a drama queen!) It's like it is a crime to try to keep things on The DL. I just don't get it.

I still crack up when I remember the first time I heard this use of "hi." I was signing in at the doctor's office, and the receptionist asked me for my detailed info. Since I didn't want to share with the rest of the group, I spoke in a low tone as I replied.

"Oi?" the receptionist asked, noticeably raising her voice.

I thought she was rebooting our [live, face-to-face] conversation that we'd begun a mere 2 minutes ago. I was confused.

"Oi?" I replied timidly.

That was when the testy teen queen surfaced. I saw it in her eyes:


"O-o-o-o-o-i-i-i-i-i!" she roared back (with ear-splitting efficiency, enough to make everyone look up from their magazines).


I was like, "Um, you had me at... 'Oi.'"


**Does anyone know if this is a Brazilian, or a regional thing? I don't recall hearing "Oi" used in this manner, in any of the other regions I've visited. The locals I've asked don't seem to know the answer to this question, either.

All pics found on Google images.


  1. Using the pics from Clueless made me laugh and really made your post! Of course, it may get lost in translation if someone has not seen the movie.

  2. Alisa -


    This post is specifically for people who have seen the movie!

    It's a surreal experience that i get to "do over," again & again. Just wanted to share.... ;)

  3. Haha. I lived in Goiania for 3 months and to this day I still use the "oi?" when I don't understand a Brazilian. For me that happens quite frequently because my Portuguese is pretty basic. Love the blog, coming back to Goiania next year and this is the only way I can connect with it for now.

  4. Glad you like it, The-WC! :)

    Meeting a fellow American/foreigner who has been here is about as rare as a Yeti sighting, these days. :] As you well know, Goiânia is a relatively unknown city, outside of Brazil.

    From what i understand, things move to a different beat here [though not as in the alleged dusty-trail-cowboy nonsense that is also attributed to my home state, as i've seen mentioned around the internet] so it's refreshing to be able to relate with someone who has actually 'gone Goiano.' I'd love more insight on what you love here, and what keeps you coming back.

    Thanks for stopping in & saying Oi! :D

    'té mais!

  5. Hey, yea I agree its very rare to meet another foreigner there. When I was living there I had one fellow gringa in my apartment building so I guess I was lucky in that sense.

    Its hard to put into words what I liked about Goiania but I guess it was the people. I visited a few cities in Brazil when I came last and I felt Goiania was a very social place and the people were friendly. The city structure is pretty good too. I guess I'm kind of crazy but I also liked that there were so many basketball courts for me to use :)

    How long have you been living there now with your husband?

  6. The-WC,

    Huh - that was a lucky break! I haven't run into Americans or other foreigners, but a few times. I hear rumors of other foreigners, and have had people hand me the phone number of another foreigner... ;) Ha-ha. (That's always funny... and weird!)

    One thing about Goiânia is that there are a lot of Brazilians here that travel quite a bit or have lived abroad, at some point.

    It makes it easier to strike up a conversation, plus people are usually excited to practice their English skills, so that guarantees a little interaction wherever you go.

    I've found that it's a little easier (and more enjoyable) for males, since females have more social rules to "follow," but the quality of life here is great.

    Ha-ha! I noticed that, too: there are a number of basketball & volleyball courts here that make it seem like home. :)

    I've been here for over 5 years, now. When you come back, are you going to stay for a while?

  7. Right now the plan is to come back sometime in 2013 and stay for 6 months . The two tourist visas back to back. I want to teach in an English school for a semester, see if I like it enough to make a permanent move. And your right, I met a few English speaking Brazilians there, it was always a random surprise. I would be at one of those many calmelodromo(forget the word, whatever) shops and one guy would randomly start speaking english saying how he lived abroad :)

    What sector do you live in? Last time I was near the bus terminal and dromo thingies...

  8. I forgot about your site for a while. Glad to be back.

    Very funny. I'll have to ask my wife about this.

    Hope all is well...

    Chris (austin, TX)

  9. The-WC,

    Cool! It's good to teach at a school here to get a feel for what is being taught, and what isn't. You can make about 4-5 times as much with private students, though. Most schools here pay a pittance, and require most of your waking hours. Private classes are better for you & the student. :) Of course, it takes a little time to get the right contacts, but schools are great for networking, as well.

    Like my hometown, Austin, I'm spending my "formative years" in Goiânia Southside! :)


    Hey, dude! Thanks for stopping in. :)

    We had a lot of fun when you guys were in town. Can't wait until y'all can get down here again for a visit!!

    'té mais!


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