Friday, February 10, 2006

Bom Criuolo

I found the book Bom-Crioulo at the bookstore. The book was written by Adolfo Ferreira Caminha (1867-1897). It is a love story between a black man and a young white cabin boy in Brazil. It was published in 1895. It ends tragically I am sure, though I have not read it. So expect a book report on it soon.

The only problem I have is the way the book's title is translated by some reviewers and websites. Some have said that Bom Crioulo means Good Darkie or Good Nigger. American racial connotations against a Brazilian book title doth maketh my skin crawl I must say. I think Crioulo must be a term of endearment. Maybe? Something like Negruinho (Upa negruinho na estrada!). In Portuguese I can survive colored niceties and knick-knacks. In other languages it can be real difficult. I kicked it with this Bulgarian business man one night on a blind date. He made a couple of terms of endearment that kind of had me spinning my wheels. And with his German being very basic, and absolutely no English skills at all, I was not sure how to communicate that his English word for me was more than a slight insult. The affair was brief to say the least. He wrecked my nerves.

The translation I found by E.A. Lacey has Bom-Crioulo: The Black Man and the Cabin Boy.

Cool beans.


John K said...

Bill, "crioulo" in addition to its standard "creole" meaning has the meaning "Negro" or "Black person born in Brazil" in standard Portuguese, with a slight colloquial edge, so something along the lines of "Good Negro" would have been appropriate at the time (1895) among polite White folks, or for more racist-inclined types, "Good Darkie," since that was considered a term of endearment, at least in one direction (though obviously not the other).

"Negrinho" and "Nego" and "Negão" would be more common nowadays, especially in Brazil, though there are some people who would rather be called "Pretinho" (etc.) or "Pardo" or some other term ("Caboclo") than anything linked to the word "negro," which has overt (and these days, overtly politicized) racial and historical connotations. Interestingly enough, the brotha who's head of Grupo Gay da Bahia had sent me a message a while back, and as a compliment he called me a "Negão," which sort of means "big black man" or "big black brotha." The hiphop folks in São Paulo are also using the term "nigga" now too, unfortunately.

Portuguese Dictionary Online

Enjoy the book.

Littlemilk said...

Thanks. I thought about the term "creole" but was hesistant in terms of defining it according to what it means in the US. "Creole" is a loaded term too, with different meanings historically and topographically, not to mention its linguistic origins.

Good to know. And thanks for keeping me current. My co-workers say that I am a "baiano" and that is that. Someone explained to me that people use that term regardless if the black person is from Sao Paulo, Rio Grande do Sol, or Minas Gerais. So, now I have new words.

And thanks for the online dictionary.