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The Four Engines that Accelerate Language and Life

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The Four Engines that Accelerate Language and Life

Last fall, my girlfriend and I sat down to have a street food dinner in Bangkok. It was a tiny street stall with only a handful of plastic chairs and tables, so seating was cramped. Soon another foreigner came and sat down across from us and began to eat silently.

A few minutes pass and the foreigner sitting with us takes note of my girlfriend's accent. He asks in Portuguese, "Você é brasileira?" (Are you Brazilian?) She says yes, and the three of us then initiate a conversation in Portuguese.

The guy was obviously from Rio de Janeiro. You could hear it in how he pronounced his s's and his frequent use of the word "cara" (the Brazilian equivalent for the word "dude" in the US or "mate" in the UK). He had the mulatto skin, the big afro and the easy smile. Yep, clearly from Rio.

That's why, after a few minutes, it caught my girlfriend and I by surprise when we finally asked him where he was from.

"Oh, I'm from Pennsylvania," he replied in a bland American accent.
"Wait, but then your parents are Brazilian?" my girlfriend asked.
"No, …

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