Keeping Our Secret Language Alive

Posted by Lindsey Costard on Wednesday, September 12, 2012. Filed under: ,


Now that Ro and I are back in Canada, we have the new responsibility of "keeping up the Brazilian" in our lives. (That was a failed Keeping up with the Kardashian's joke... wow, please forgive me.) Big butts aside (haha pun so intended), while living in Brazil, that's easy-peezy.  I would be hearing/speaking/seeing/smelling/6th sensing Portuguese all day long so when we came home, English was our my break from that, plus it was our secret language that we secretly very obviously took pleasure in having.

We could speak English loudly and proudly (although all expats know that after you've been there a while, LOUD English speakers are the most obnoxious people ever, so we truly didn't speak loudly). But we COULD make fun of people right to their faces, or complain about situations happening right in front of us, and 90% of the time we could get away with it. Don't ask me what happened that other 10% of the time. Ouch.

We have always spoken English together since our first night hookin' up in my apartment. Haha. We made an explicit arrangement to always speak English doing that and young lovers in love do that a lot so you see why we just started speaking English all the time anyway.

Now that we're back in Canada, we have lost some highly important characteristics that made us unique in Brazil.  
  1. No more secret language, what??
  2. Can't make fun of you in front of you anymore, pardon??
  3. Not special or different in any way? Damn.
Case in point. When we were just FOB, this was something I had to get used to again. We were at my favourite fast food restaurant Wendy's (ugh, could we be any more North American???) and there was a guy in front of us ordering. Only he asked for a quarter pounder. I laughed LOUDLY and in my best 'you're a giant idiot voice' boomed,
"QUARTER POUNDER? WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, MCDONALDS?"

It unraveled in slow motion for me as Ro whipped his head around, like Nooooooo!!!!!!
"People UNDERSTAND you here!!!!"
I buried my face in his shirt, totally embarrassed, but not before seeing the guy turn around and look squarely at me while calling to his wife who was standing, y'know, a hundred percent beside me.

Luckily for me, Canadians are completely passive, or at most passive aggressive, so I would never have to worry about someone fighting me. The guy probably actually apologized in all reality. But the POINT is, I don't have the freedom to make these comments anymore because everyone speaks our secret language! And that's just balls!

So, we have been making a SUPER giant effort to speak Portuguese together. For all of you in multi-lingual relationships, you know that whatever language you started speaking in, is usually the language you speak in for your whole relationship because:
a) It's awkward as hell to switch, and
b) You already have inside jokes and stuff so changing seems like it will = less funniness

So hopefully you can recognize our efforts in changing our spoken language. It equals me feeling a little shy and us actually having to force ourselves to communicate (in Portuguese), as well as being very aware of every thing you say. In the beginning, it's almost like making awkward small talk but with someone you know very well, just so you can speak words.

Now, it's not all the time. Habits take time. Sometimes, I especially, just need to express myself in English. But it is absolutely getting easier and feeling more natural.  We are speaking for extended periods of time, at random, unplanned moments (at first it was like, 'ok so let's speak in Portuguese now'... awkward), on the phone, texting, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, when we have to complain about something or someone who is standing right in front of us.

Now, isn't that what secret languages are for? God, I love being in a bilingual relationship.





3 Responses to Keeping Our Secret Language Alive

  1. Mexi-can Me.

    Haha, I could never do that in Cancun since everyone speaks English there! lol! But here we talk spanish all the time (even though our relationship started off and is still mostly in English) As my spanish has advanced, we speak more and more spanish in our day to day. It helps keep me learning and/or fluent which I love :)

  2. Meredith

    For us it's the other way around...we started our relationship in Portuguese and when we're in the US we go hard at cracking on people (so immature, I know :), talking about my family when they're in the room, and being able to have private conversations (that's usually what we do). When we return to Brazil we can't do that because EVERYONE speaks Portuguese; so sometimes we do it in English, but then you never know who understands (I know where my parents live no one speaks/understand Portuguese and where we lived in Florida you can tell when people are Brazilian so you know not to have a private conversation).

  3. Shayna (formerly Brasilicana)

    That McDonald's incident is hilarious!!!

    My husband doesn't speak English, so our relationship is entirely in Portuguese and I agree - so many of the nicknames/inside jokes/banter just doesn't translate well from the language in which it was originally created.

    Once we were in Israel, and we'd been commenting on how a lot of Israeli families had young children really close in age ("must be something in the water," we mused). While on the boardwalk, a family came towards us pushing what appeared to be triplets in a stroller. My husband goes, "Porra, TRES???" - just as we passed the family, and the father of the triplets turns around and goes, "Oi, tudo bem?" HE WAS BRAZILIAN.

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