Portenglish Culture in California
The Portuguese presence in California is documented since the 16th century, when João Rodrigues Cabrilho (c.1496-1543) reached what is known today as San Diego bay. Later, there were are also some peculiar characters linked to the Gold Rush, but the main settlement of Portuguese emigrants occurred during the 20th century, when thousands started working in shipyards and, most of them, in California farms.
Portenglish, a pidgin mixing Portuguese and English languages, is still common today in large communities of Portuguese background in North America, particularly in the states of California, New Jersey and Massachussets, in the U.S.A., and some provinces of Canada.
This crate label provides an example of what may have been an earlier documented text integrating Portenglish - limoneira may very well be an obvious corruption of lemonade.
Many examples of Portenglish abound in morphology, either regarding nouns, adjectives or verbs, and syntax. One of the most peculiar examples of Portenglish is related to the gender of the US and Canada currency – in Portuguese, the dollar is masculine (o, um dólar), while in Portenglish it becomes feminine ("a, uma dolla"). This may be owed to the indefinite article "a" in English (a dollar), which may have influenced the ocurrence of such use in Portenglish. (The definite articles in Portuguese are "o,a (singular); os,as (plural)".)
DVD cover for Bananas Is My Bussiness (1995), a documentary on Carmen Miranda directed by Helena Solberg (dates unknown).
Curiously enough, one of the main Portuguese mid-century movie celebrities is scarcely identified as Portuguese, either in California or the U.S. In fact, the Portuguese-born actress Carmen Miranda (1909-1955) embodies the Hollywood image of exotic Brazil in the 1940s and 1950s. Such exotic treatment of Latin-American characters influenced even Walt Disney Productions, which released The Three Caballeros in 1944. This movie introduced Joe Carioca, a character that prevailed in Brazilian comics for decades as José (Zé) Carioca.
Notice how the crate label design evokes the flag of Brazil.
For one of the latest pastiches of Carmen Miranda's famous performances, check http://www.pedrassalgadas.pt/.
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