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Those who gave us "fazenda"

Week 4, Episode 7

As I went through the language of Portuguese, I discovered something surprising: Portuguese word "fazenda" is actually very young in my language (Russian) and in English.

It seems rather odd when you think about all these widespread online games we have for years now where you grow and sell stuff. Could anyone resist them? It is even stranger if you, like me, were growing in Russia in 90's and was a witness to numerous Brazilian telenovelas with people only worrying about their fazendas and, of course, lost and suddenly found offspring or memory.

The word came to my language in 1988 thanks to "Escrava Isaura" ("Isaura the Slave Girl") — white-skinned slave girl who lived, loved and suffered at the fazenda. Same ocurrance of the word is true for English, just a year earlier. By the way, this series achieved worldwide success and is the most dubbed program in the history of world television! Nossa! (Wow!)

"Fazenda" comes from the Portuguese word "fazer" (to do), like "hacienda" in Spanish is derived from "hacer" (to do).

I was so excited to learn about the origins of the word that it got me wondering: and what about "Portugal" and "Brazil" themselves?

Well, the word "Portugal" came from the name of the place Portus Cale, which is Portu nowadays. I know, not so trilling.

But the word "Brazil" was chosen for the country, that was discovered in 1500 and had been named several different ways —from "Island of the True Cross" to "Land of Parrots"—, for its dyewood, brazilwood (from portuguese word "brasa""heat", "red-hot coals"), that produces a deep red dye —brazilin—, reminiscent of the color of glowing embers. Ain't that just poetic? :) That wood was much in demand by the European cloth industry and previously had to be imported from India at great expense. Now, though, it is endagered—not poetic at all.

But don't you think it is quite interesting that the country, which existed for 500 years, gave us a new word its people used since the beginning of 19th century, less than 30 years ago. I wasn't even born yet.

But on my Langventure, there is more to the story of the word "fazenda". It led me to a discovery in my own language! Turns out, till 1918 there were two alternatives for the letter "Ф" ("ef") in Russian: Ѳ — feetah, and Ф — fert. Feetah had Greek origins and was used instead of the letter Θ, θ (teh-tah), which in Greek words presented sound "th" like in English "think". But since in Russian we don't have this sound, due to the Spelling Reform (1917-1918) it was eliminated, forever.

And the wild thing I've never known about is that our letter "Ф" mostly appears in the words adopted from other languages—Latin, Dutch, French, English, Greek, German, Italian, and many others, including Portuguese word "fazenda"—"фазенда"—which is pronounced in Russian almost the same way as in English.

Aren't you curious what Portuguese can teach you about your language? :)

Um beijo! (oong bay-zhoh; Kiss) Um abraço! (oong ah-bdah-soh; Hug)

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