February Partying


Dear English-B Interpreter Friends,

(First, my letter to you to using words from Post #9)

Ah February! The poor, little month that seemed to get the short end of the stick when the Romans were fiddling around with the calendar. I was reading up on the origins of this particular month (because my love of arcane trivia knows no bounds) and discovered that the name comes from a Roman festival of ritual purification (Februa), which traditionally occurred between the 13th and the 15th of the month. But, let not the poetic appeal of ceremonial cleansing delude; purification is none other an overt admission of having just engaged in inevitably impure activities. Just as the purported impurities of the Saturnalia festivities preceded the Roman’s soul-scrubbing Februa, what precedes our modern-day festival of ritual purification (that is, Ash Wednesday / Lent) is none other than the ubiquitous, promiscuous, frivolous, uproarious, morally decadent masquerade we now call Carnival.

I happen to be writing this digest with a cold beer in hand as a little nod to the current nationwide carefree attitude while I actually work this Monday. For many years, I would spend Friday to Carnival Tuesday out on streets, occasionally getting mildly chastised for letting myself get too carried away with the festivities. In recent years, however, I’ve been less inclined to take Brazil’s Carnival customs much to heart, mostly staying quietly indoors, though I’ve ironically been called culturally callous for not sufficiently embracing my Carnival spirit. This year, however, I was genuinely desirous of participating in something social. So, I headed out Saturday to follow around a parade float with marchinha-singing revellers in a bloco whose name loosely translates to Danny the Donkey (Jegue Gerso), dancing incessantly in the street until 3 a.m. And after I finish this digest, I may yet go out to dance and enjoy myself alongside a percussion-based Carnival bloco that calls itself Termite Mound (Cupinzeiro).

Saturday night, as I was listening to the music and singing and getting progressively more covered in paper confetti, I felt giddy. Maybe it was because it had been a while since I’d taken the mass Carnival spirit to heart. Maybe it was because I was amusedly watching two friends who had never experienced Brazilian Carnaval (a man from Portugal and a woman from Syria) joyously partake in the celebration. Maybe it was because watching the motley crew of costumed people in the college suburb of Barao Geraldo was entertainment in and of itself. Or maybe because I currently seem to be going through a stage where I’m finding myself newly smitten with all things Brazilian. Who knows (maybe overanalysing my contentment it is just a moot exercise), but I was (and am) truly happy enjoying this year’s Carnival.

Wishing you all a fun-filled final day of partying.

Happy words,
Melissa

*** FIVE WORDS (IN CONTEXT) TO BRING INTO THE BOOTH ***

ASCERTAIN
* As used in the title of this medical summary about measuring doctor’s fatigue through analysis of their eye movements (#medicine)
*  As a Portugues-to-English interpreting opportunity from this interview about the applications of big data. (#IT)
ref. “Esses insights… trazem cenários mais apurados?” (2:04) – Can we better ascertain prospects/scenarios with these insights?
STEADFAST
* As used in the body of this article on why Jews are historically good at finance, and why the Chinese admire them for it (#finance; #religion)
*  As a Spanish-to-English interpreting opportunity on the widespread availability of organic food in Cuba (#agriculture; #policy)

ref. “Creo que Cuba ha hecho un esfuerzo extraordiario con el tema de agricultura orgánica” (6:18) – I believe Cuba has been steadfast in its efforts in organic farming.
QUANDARY
* As used in the headline of this article in the LA Times about its participation in Ukraine’s civilian battle with Russian-backed separatists (#geopolitics; #military)
DRAGNET
* As used in this body of this WSJ article reporting on the fallout of the Petrobras scandal (#politics)
PAEAN
* As used in the title of this very amusing piece on the common elements of love letters throughout time because it did not go unnoticed that we also celebrated Valentine’s Day this week (#art; #literature)

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