Um grupo de jovens decidiu fazer uma lista de frases moçambicanas localmente conhecidas como “Calão” traduzidas para o inglês sul africano.
Abaixo você encontrará uma lista de frases úteis originalmente compilado por Dawn Kebelman-Wallner e os voluntários do Peace Corps.
Amanhacer (v.) – 1) to wake up very early; literally “to dawn;” 2) to stay up all night festejando; thus not waking up early.
Andar desaparecido (phr.) – “to walk disappeared.” Indicates that someone has not seen the other person in some time. They have “disappeared.”
Animar (v.) – to make happy; to excite; lit., to animate, e.g., “Esta novela anima muito.” [This novel is very exciting.]
Aos poucos (adv.) – slowly.
Até já (phr.) – see you soon. Lit., until already.
Babalaza (n.) – hangover.
Bacela (n.) – what you ask for after buying something like peanuts in the market, in hopes of getting a little bonus.
Badjia (n.) – bean cakes. Plentiful in the South of the country, sadly scarce in the central provinces.
Barraca (n.) – small informal bar.
Bate-lá (v.) – hit it; give it to me; slap it down. Often used when exchanging money.
Batefogo (n.) – a stick, broad at one end, which is applied in frantic, repetitive beating motions to regain control of a fire set in one’s machamba. Lit., “firebeater.”
Bater cervezas (v.) – to drink beers, usually heavily.
Batuque (n.) – drum.
Bazar (v.) – to leave quickly; to jet. May be related to the root bazaar, referring to the central market (i.e., “Let’s get out of here and go to the bazaar”).
Bazooka (n.) – bottle of beer. Typically, Moçambican beers come in large, half-litre sizes, perhaps resembling an RPG launcher.
Bandido (n.) – bandit. See ninja.
Beijaflor (n.) – a hummingbird.
Beijinhos (n.) – the two kisses a man gives a woman on her cheeks to greet her.
Biggi (adj.) – big; huge. Many English words filter into the Mozambican lexicon as every surrounding country’s official language includes English (Zimbabwe, South Africa, Swaziland, Malawi, Zambia, and Tanzania). In fact, Mozambique considered a bill that would have switched the official language from Portuguese to English.
Boleia (n.) – a free ride; hitchhiking. In Mozambique, hitchhiking is quite common; if one wishes to stop a car to ask for a boleia (or to hail a chapa), one normally extends their arm and then moves their forearm up and down parallel to one’s torso.
Cacana (n.) – an incredibly bitter leaf, generally considered a medicinal plant in the central provinces, prepared as a caril in the south.
Calamidades (n.) – 1) used clothing; 2) the market where such clothing is available for purchase.
Camarada (n.) – comrade. During socialism, most Mozambicans referred to each other by this word. Its present nuance must be thus contextualized.
Camarão voador (n.) – a type of grasshopper which travels annually through inland communities to the gastronomical delight of anyone with a net. Literally, “flying prawn.”
Capulana (n.) — ubiquitous, all purpose cloth, typically measuring 1 meter by 2 meters, that is used as a woman’s skirt, to carry small children, as a tablecloth, to bundle goods for a trip, a towel, a bedsheet, etc. May also be brought to the tailor to make shirts, curtains, and dresses.
Caril; Relish (n.) – the “sauce” that normally accompanies any meal of massa. Often, this sauce will be made from green leafy vegetables, such as mustard greens or an equivalent (see: couve). Also peixe seco, tomatoes, or meat often constitute the base of the caril.
Cena (n.) – scene; happenings; goings-on. See:
Qual é a cena, meu? Chapa-cem (n.) – the ubiquitous mode of transport—usually mini-buses that seat about 12, but in which usually are found 20-25 passengers. Shortened to Chapa, one story of its origins is that originally a bus ride cost 100 Mt. (cem = 100), hence the name. Another is that chapas, which also means roof-tile, were so beat up and looked like nothing more than corrugated metal slapped together that the name stuck.
Chefe (n.) – at work, the boss; anywhere else, especially where service is required immediately, the server (cobrador, waiter, etc.). “Oi, chefe, da-lá mais uma Manica, pah!” [Hey chief, bring us one more Manica!]
Chega (adj.) – enough. Extremely common and useful expression.
Chequear (v.) – to check something out.
Chibar (n.) – a small bar. In Western Manica, where Shona and English are mixed with Portuguese, “chi” (and sometimes “xi”) is combined with the English word “bar,” and used frequently by people who speak neither English nor Shona.
Chofista (n.) – a showoff.
Cobrador (n.) — chapa driver’s assistant and money collector. This person not only keeps track of all of the passengers’ change and their destinations, but is also responsible for loading and unloading oversize baggage (large bundles, farm animals, etc.) on the top of the chapa.
Colgate (n.) – toothpaste, no matter the brand.
Confusão (n.) – confusion. Refers to situations that involve conflict. “Havía uma confusão no mercado ontem.” [There was a confusion in the market yesterday.]
Conto (n.) – 1,000 Meticais. Since inflation was high in Mozambique during the Civil War, the current smallest unit of usable currency is 500 Mt. coins. The most common denomination is 1,000 Mt. coins, called contos.
Corto Mato (n.) — shortcut. Lit., to “cut the bush.”
Couve (n.) – large green leafy vegetables. Many people told me they were leaves from brussel sprouts that had grown large. The closest thing to couve outside of Africa would probably be mustard greens.
Curandeiro / Feiticeiro (n.) – traditional healers. The former, one who uses various means (e.g., herbs) to heal their patient; the latter, one who practices “black magic,” or medicine to harm others. In truth, a feitiço is usually a spell or curse that is said to cause illness, death, or other grave misfortunes. The actual existence of feiticeiros is debatable; everyone, however, visits curandeiros, even the most cosmopolitan of individuals.
Curtir (v.) – to totally enjoy oneself.
Cuspideira (n.) – the Mozambican spitting cobra. When frightened, known to rear its ugly head up to the height of a grown man and spit blinding venom into its victim’s eyes. D
De nada (phr.) – no problem; it was nothing.
É a minha sobrinha/cunhada/etc. (phrase) – often males will refer to their extra-marital lovers as family relations, such as the ones above [She’s my niece, step-daughter, etc.]
É pah! (int.) – an expression of surprise, anger, confusion, or horror, i.e., “Eu fui a casa mas, é pah, não consigui procurer o gajo.” [I went home but, dammit, I wasn’t able to find that guy.
En casa é aqui (phr.) – used to tell someone that this, indeed, is one’s house.
Estar a DJar (v.) – to DJ.
Está a ouvir de longe (phr.) – to indicate that someone is not all there; dense. Lit., he/she is hearing from afar.
Está a ver? (phr.) – “do you see?” Put at the end of conversational sentences.
Estámos juntos (int.) – “we are together.” A salutation generally said just before people part ways; also may indicate agreement or merriment depending on inflection.
Estámos quase (adj.) – lit., “we are almost.” Describes the amount of time or distance left in any Mozambican road journey, no matter how far away one actually is from the destination. Also refers any amount of expectant time, i.e., getting ready to leave, waiting for a show to start.
Estar friqui (adj.) – to be freaky.
Estou a pedir (phr.) – “I’m asking”; a humbling/groveling way to ask for something, often used by beggars (to ask for money) or students (to ask for a passing grade).
Estou aqui (phr.) – “I am here.” Often, when two people part ways, the person who is staying in the original location will affirm that, indeed, he/she is still there (and will continue to be there for an indeterminate time).
Fazer um MacGyver (v.) – literally, to do a ‘MacGyver.’ Used in context to indicate that someone jury-rigged/jimmy-rigged something, i.e., “Quando a bacía quebrou-se, eu fiz um MacGyver para arreglar-á.”[When the bucket broke, I did a MacGyver to fix it]. This refers to the TV series MacGyver, starring Richard Dean Anderson, who once jury-rigged the Earth to alter its normal trajectory by coordinating the movements of all the rats in the world.
Fazer merda (v.) – To make trouble; lit., to defecate.
Fazer xixi (v.) – To go pee; urinate.
Feijão malouco (n.) – “crazy beans”: long, fuzzy inedible beans that cause intense itching if they touch one’s skin (but whose allergens can be passed through the air, not necessitating direct skin-to-bean interaction).
Feijão nhembe (n.) – beans which when cooked are roughly garbanzo-like, except with removable skins and reddish-brown interiors; by far the best thing to eat while waiting for a chapa.
Folgado (adj.) – carefree; unfettered. i.e., “Hoje na escola hei-de estar folgado pah. Nem tenho nenhum ponto.” [Today in school it’ll be a breeze. I don’t even have one exam.]
Fulan(i) (n.) – refers to something or someone who’s name is either not known or not important; “whats-his-name”; “whats-it-called”; “so-and-so.” e.g., “Vamos conversar com Prof. Fulani sobre as notas.”[We’re going to talk with Professor so-and-so about the grades.] From Arabic.
Gajo/gaja (n.) – refers colloquially to a guy/gal. Perhaps the best translation to English would be “dude.”
Gala-gala (n.) – a lizard.
Gelo (n.) – sugary colored ice sold in small plastic bags in the market or near parragens.
Gramar (v.) – to like intensely; to dig. “Esse gajo é numa boa mesmo. Gramo maningi do gajo pah!” [That guy is really really fine. I intensely like in the most acute sense that guy, you feel me?]
Grosso (adj.) – drunk. Translated literally, grosso means “thick.”
Gufto (adj.) – drunk.
Hei-de; há-de (v. tense) – one of the most common ways to express the future (along with vou a…), e.g.,“Hei-de ir à praia mais logo.” [I’m going to go to the beach later.]
Infelicidade (n.) – “unhappiness”; a euphemism generally used to refer to a death in the family, e.g. “O João não esta a dar aulas hoje porque teve uma infelicidade na familia.”
Iwe! (excl.) – “you!” in Shona, Chimanica, Chitewe and Chisena, four of the principal local languages of central Mozambique. Very handy for getting the attention of small children and or livestock. It can also be used to call adults, though it may insinuate derision.
Jazz; jazzi (adj.) – drunk.
Jeito (n.) – a condom, so called for the same reason many Mozambicans call toothpaste “Colgate,” and many westerners call paper nose tissues “Kleenex.” Jeito was the first major condom brand launched in the Mozambican market, heavily subsidized by Population Services International. Jeito also means, roughly, “a stylish manner.” Thus the brand’s slogans are generally double-entendres. “’Ta-se com Jeito,” means “be stylish” and “be with a condom”; “brinca com Jeito” translates roughly to “play (around) in a stylish way” and “play around with a condom.”
Jobar (v.) – to work. Another English root word grafted into Mozambican Portuguese.
Jumpaborda (n., v.) – “jump-the-border”; refers to an individual who crosses (usually illegally) the Mozambican border to procure cheaper goods in another country (e.g., Zimbabwe, South Africa, Malawi), then brings said goods back to sell at a profit. “Ouve-lá, quando um gajo como eu jumpaborda, se vá conseguir muito dineiro mesmo.” [Listen, when a guy like me jumps-the-border, he’s going to get a lot of money indeed.]
Juntos (adj.) – together; often used to acknowledge common understanding or position. “Estamos juntos.” [We are together.]
Lá (aí-aí) (adj.) – way over there; far away.
Lixado (adj.) – tired; worn-down. Literally, it means dirty.
Lobolo (n.) – bride price.
Maçaroca (n.) – fresh corn. Often the corn will be roasted over coals in markets and sold—its kernels are bigger than Western varieties and perhaps more succulent.
Machamba (n.) – farm. From Swahili.
Machimbombo (n.) – a larger “touring-style” bus; a coach. Usually used to go long distances in Moçambique and similar to a Greyhound. Also see chapa.
Mafioso (adj. / n.) – wily; a liar. Perhaps from “mafia?”
Maheu; kabanga; tontonton; sura; nipa (n.) – these are all variations on local home-brews of liquor. Most are made from sugar cane or maize; some are stronger than others. The most common type in the central provinces is nipa. Often drunk by more “rural” folk as it is much cheaper than commercial beer or spirits.
Majarimani (n.) – a Mozambican who spent time in East Germany while it was under socialist rule.
Malandro (n., adj.) – cunning individual; joker. See ninja.
Malouco (adj.) – crazy; daft. Used to describe the actions of others, i.e., “Você é malouco pah!” [You are crazy!]
Malta (n.) – regular company; a “crew.” Usage note: Malta may precede a name to indicate the regular company of that person. For example, “Malta-João” would be used to describe the buddies with whom Joao spends his time.
Mandar um fax (v.) – to send a fax; to defecate.
Maningi (adj., adv.) – to an excessive degree. Maningi is from the Shona dialect, but is commonly used throughout the Central Provinces of Mozambique to mean a lot; very much. Perhaps it’s most apt usage is Nice. “Maningi nice.” [Nice. Very nice.]
Mano/mana (n.) – slang for brother or sister (irmão, irmã), mostly figurative.
Mãos leves (adj.) – indicates the propensity to steal. Lit., “light hands.”
Massa; Nsima; Xima; Sadza (n.) – stiff, corn-flour porridge. Most large meals (lunch and dinner) use this starch as the “main course.” Caril is normally the sauce into which one places the massa, often using themassa in a spoon-like fashion. Legends are told about the degree to which some elders can eat massa e caril with their hands while keeping them completely clean.
Matabicho (n.) – breakfast. Literally, matabicho means “kill” the “bug.” In continental Portuguese, breakfast is called pequeno almoço [lit., small lunch].
Matapa (n.) – vying with Matssau for the place of best caril in Mozambique. Prepared by pounding fresh tender manioc leaves, then boiling them with peanut flour and coconut milk.
Metical; Meticais (n.) – Mozambican unit of currency. Its abbreviation is Mt.
Matope (n.) – mud.
Matssange (n.) – a wild fruit, roughly the size of a litchi, which grows on trees in upland areas of Manica province, i.e., near Chimanimani. Has a tough brown inedible skin and three pits which are coated with a sweet and sour orange meat. Ripe around late November, best eaten while descending Mount Vumba with friends, hollering at angry baboons.
Matssanga (n., adj.) – refers to an individual allied with RENAMO. Comes from André Matssanga, the individual who “started” the protracted Moçambican civil war. Legend has it that he held up a bus full of people on the road between Manica and Chimoio, killing many inside.
Matssau (n.) – vying with Matapa for the place of best caril in Mozambique. Prepared like Matapa, but with finely sliced pumpkin leaves.
Mesmo (adj., adv.) – indeed; used for emphasis. “É aqui mesmo onde se fica!” [He lives right here!]
Meu (n.) – brother; man. A colloquial moniker used among friends. “Como é meu?” [How are you man?]
Mmm (int.) – “uh-huh.” Used to show agreement or show engagement in the conversation.
Muzungo; Mulungo; Murungo (n.) – white person; foreigner. The different spellings correspond with the regions in which the word is said: the “l” version is used more commonly in the South, whereas the “r” and “z” are much more common in the Central Provinces (the “r” being especially prevalent in areas near Zimbabwe).
Nada por isso (phr.) – it was nothing; think nothing of it.
Não faz mal (phr.) – no problem. Lit., “it does no harm.”
Não tem de que (phr.) – think nothing of it; my pleasure.
Né? (int.) – “isn’t it?”; a shortened form of Não é? Added to the end of many sentences.
Necessidade menor; maior (n.) – to go “number one/two”; to urinate/defecate.
Ninja (n.) – ninja. Refers to someone of low moral character; one who steals.
Nipa (n.) – a fiery homebrew distilled from sugar; a single coke bottle has been known to get at least a dozen grown men quite drunk.
Normal (n.) – the condition of being the same as before, as in “Estou normal.” Depending on the inflection, can be a signal of depression.
Nos copos (adv.) – drunk. Usually used with estar, i.e., “Este puto estava nos copos aquela noite.” [This kid was drunk that night.]
Numa boa (adj.) – great; fantastic.
Que se passa pah? (greeting) – translates to: “What’s happening, huh?”
Oi (int.) – hey.
Ouve-lá, pah (int.) – listen here, yo. The lá is often tacked onto the end of verbs for emphasis. For example: “Vamos-lá agora mesmo, pah!” [Let’s go right now man!]
Oxalá (adj.) – godwilling. From Arabic: “May Allah grant it.”
Pah (int.) – commonly used for emphasis. Often found at the end of sentences, i.e., “Vamos a praia para procurar algumas moças boas pah!” [Let’s go to the beach to pick up some nice chicks, yo!]
Pães, Cães, Capitães (grammatical) – examples of the rare instances where words ending in -ão (pão, cão, capitão) change to -ães in their plural forms.
Pancado (adj.) – drunk. Parragem (n.) — bus stop, usually en route. Also a signal given by passengers to make the cobrador aware that their stop is approaching. For inter-city chapa terminals, see: Chapa-cem.
Passa (n.) – marijuana. Passa literally refers to the act of “passing” the joint around (in a circle of people).
Patrão (n.) – a term used to refer to someone who (in the mind of the speaker) has a higher social status, often due to wealth or skin color or the model of 4×4 he (almost always he) is driving; a sad leftover from the colonial era.
Pau (n.) – 1) 1.000,00 Meticais; 1 conto. 2) a tree branch or stick.
Peixe seco (n.) – dried fish. These usually are tiny “minnowish” fish that are salted to preserve them. A common type of caril, peixe seco is also rumored to be an aphrodisiac. Manica legend has it that every woman keeps a little peixe seco in the kitchen just in case the man comes home too drunk and can’t “get it up.” Convexly, for many Westerners peixe seco actually decreases tumescence.
Pessoal (n.) – refers to a grouping of people. See malta.
Piri piri (n.) – 1) a hot pepper 2) very spicy hot sauce made from that pepper.
Pita (n.) – girlfriend; date; chick. The story I heard is that it refers, literally, to baby chickens (chicks).
Pouco a pouco (adv.) – bit by bit; slowly.
Pouxa; Pouxas; Porra; Poooooooooorra! (int.) – darn; dagnabbit; damn; (in corresponding order). Common interjection, used to express surprise, anger, etc.
Powa (n., adj.) – power; strength; force.
Professor (n.) – teacher.
Prontos… (intj.) – a gap-filler used when searching for a word or attempting to appear thoughtful/ distinguished before getting to the heart of a matter. e.g., “O gajo é… prontos… é mesmo mafioso, pah.” [The guy is, well, he’s a straight-up thief.]
Purreiro (adj.) – great; fantastic. Often used when responding to a greeting, i.e., “Como é, meu?” “Estou purreiro, pah!” [How are you, my brother? I’m great!]
Puta (n.) – a lady of the night.
Puto (n.) – kid; boy; young punk.
Qual à cena, meu? (greeting) – translates to: “What’s the scene, my [brother].” (The brother is implied by meu.) See cena.
Refresco (n.) – a soft drink. There are limited choices in Mozambique: Fanta, Coca, Sprite, and Schwepps.S
Sho! (excl.) – an exclamation uttered while dancing, preferably when listening to Oliver Mtukudzi’s band the Black Spirits break it down to just the batuques.
Si deus quiser (phr.) – Godwilling. Often indicates the certainty of future plans.
Situação (n.) – a problem.
Stor (n.) — familiar term for professor; an abbreviated version of “O Senhor Professor”
Suca! (excl.) – “get out of here!”; most often said to goats that wander onto one’s porch.
Suruma (n.) – marijuana.
‘Tá-andar isso? (int.) – “how’s it going?” Lit., “is this going?”
‘Tá-se bem? (int.) – “how are you?” Lit., “Is one good?”
Tacos (n.) – money, cash, scroll.
Tchau (int.) – bye; see ya.
Tchauzinho (int.) – a brief goodbye.
Ticha (n.) – teacher.
Tio/tia (n.) – lit., uncle/aunt. Often used as a respectful but informal way to address an older man or woman in place of “senhor” or “senhora.”
Titio/titia (n.) – the cute way that little kids often say tio or tia.
Too much (adj.) – a lot. Though not Portuguese, this English saying is often confused for an “excessive amount.” It is used to mean very much so, e.g., “I like steak too much.” [I like steak a lot.]
Troco (n.) — change for a large bill or coin. May also indicate a lack of funds; e.g., “É pah!, não tenho troco.” [Rats, I don’t have any money!]
Vela Eléctrica (n.) — a booklamp. Lit., Electric candle.
Vunar (v.) – to go really fast. e.g., “Aquele chapa está a vunar – o motorista é malandro, vai fazer confusão.” [that chapa is flying—the driver is deceitful, he’s going to cause a problem.]
Xingar (v.) – to fool; to show-off; to be cool. Used often to express when one is “chilling” or “hanging out.”