Language is a barrier

15Sep11

Language can be a social barrier anywhere because one of its functions is to be a status symbol, as it allows someone to be labeled by their accent, by their idioms and so on. Portuguese is Brazil’s official mother tongue and is totally mastered by around 25% of Brazilians, usually by the ones who could afford a good education. Although football is just a sport, it’s affected by this educational flaw and it frequently provokes a clash between those who could study – media professionals and some of their followers – and those whose only option to get a better life was investing their time in their talent – footballers.

Most of Brazilian footballers come from a very humble background in which good health care and proper education aren’t offered by a government that is efficient in charging and collecting high taxes. They probably would be facing a hard time if they didn’t become well-paid athletes. They can get a comfortable and costy lifestyle after making it, but the hard times insist on following them by putting some barriers on their professional lives. This time, the communicational issue is going to be analized by Maracanazo 2014.

Mother language

Official statistics show that illeteracy is no longer a problem in Brazil, but the actual fact is that 3/4 of Brazilians are functionally illiterate. That means they can’t read and write beyond a basic level, what has already been causing a couple of problems: it’s difficult for companies to find high-qualified workers, people are likely to be easily deceived, popular culture lacks a better quality etc. Concerning football, a great deal of athletes can’t figured out the game from a thoeretical perpective and can’t  speak out their minds clearly.

In spite of complaining that players always come up with the same answers, reporters insist on asking the very same questions every season . Also, some communicators try to take advantage of Brazil’s low educational level in order to cause controversy, what many times make them sell more and increase their audience.

Mauro Cezar Pereira, who works for ESPN Brasil, often mocks Brazilian footballers that express themselves confusedly. It’s a shame because, as a journalist, his major activity is commenting on what’s news. In addition to it, if he wanted to play the teacher role, he’d encourage someone’s improvement instead of putting them down.

Foreign languages

Aldair – AS Roma legend and FIFA World Cup champion – had been living in Italy for a long time and, consequently, he picked up the local language and got used to the Italian habits. His time in Rome even gave him an Italian accent while speaking Portuguese – what is quite normal, by the way. Some Brazilian reporters have already made fun of the retired defender by saying that ‘he can’t speak good Portuguese anymore’.

Well, someone able to observe and analyze the sly Brazilian mindset knows that a typical middle-class Brazilian dreams of visiting a West-European country, especially during the season in which ‘there’s snow and people look fancier‘. In fact, most Brazilian reporters undoubtedly would love to have the opportunity of living in countries such as Italy, Spain or France but the reality is that just a minority can make it come true. So, it’s fair to say that they are envious when they see footballers (who usually used to be favela dwellers) enjoying life in Europe.

When the footballer happens to come from a middle-class family, the media treatment is different. Leonardo (PSG’s current manager) and Kaka (Real Madrid’s playmaker), for instance, are respected, praised and words are carefully chosen when they are referred to. On the other hand, why hasn’t anybody said that Romário can speak some Dutch? Does it have anything to do with his humble background in Rio de Janeiro?

The situation worsens when Brazilian journalists think they can criticize a foreign player – and then we gotta mention Mauro Cezar Pereira as an example once again. In spite of pathetically mispronouncing both English and Spanish words as well as international footballers’ names, Mr. Pereira has already been enough arrogant to affirm that Carlos Tevez speaks ‘bad Spanish’. Also, he was one of the millions of Brazilians who sneered at a Joel Santana’s interview in English.

The former Bafana Bafana coach is far from speaking an accurate English, though he probably learned it at an advanced age. Moreover, what’s the point of being so exigent about English in a country like Brazil, where its official language is fully mastered by around 25% of the population? By the way, is English so well spoken in Brazil as it is in the Netherlands or in Sweden?

It’d be better if there were more respect from the media towards Brazilian footballers, that’s for sure. But some reporters are just like spoiled kids, so things won’t change so early. Anyway, if you’re thinking of visiting Brazil and if you don’t wanna have communicational problems, just follow Maracanazo 2014’s recommendation: learn some Portuguese beforehand!

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