LINGUISTICS & CULTURE
|Data:||24/FEV/2006 4:08 PM|
In Brazil we say "Educação no trânsito" - since education is a false cognate, how would you say in English: "Os brasileiros não têm educação no trânsito"??
What you learn in a classroom is called "driver education". A "traffic classes" usually means a remedial class (several hours long) that you take instead of paying a fine for a traffic violation.
"Os brasileiros não têm educação no trânsito" = Brazilians have no manners in traffic. Brazilians show no courtesy in traffic. In Brazilian traffic, it's every man for himself.
Quite frankly, this has been my greatest cultural shock here. The "right of way" means nothing. Nothing! Just north of Porto Alegre on a two lane highway, I had TWO cars at once pass me. At once! Where was the fire? Was the Banco do Brasil in the next city giving away R$1000 banknotes that day? Had a bank been robbed? A few moments later, one of them passed a truck ON THE RIGHT. About the same time, a car was passing me illegally on the left when a police car appeared out of dip in the road ahead. The car next to me had to hit its brakes and swing in behind me to avoid hitting the police car. Do you think the police car turned around, pursued them, and issued a citation? That was quite a morning.
But it's more than just the drivers here. The pedestrians do some really dumb things, endangering their lives. Parents with babies in their arms often jaywalk.
Do you know what I do for revenge? I am courteous. If I see someone trying to walk across the street, I stop for them and smile. If someone is trying to back up to enter the flow of traffic, I stop for them too. And I smile. That's another thing; in the US courtesy is usually acknowledged with a wave of the hand or a nod of the head. I rarely see a "thumbs up" or any other gesture here to say thanks.
How odd that Brazilians can be such nice, sweet, gentle, courteous people. And then they get into a car... What happens to them? It's like watching a Frankenstein movie.
By the way, I have my "carteira de habilitação" now. DETRAN did a good job of teaching me all the laws that I am expected to break. So if you see a red Gol coming at you, better stick to the sidewalk.
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