Obies Using Languages: Dani Miriti Pacheco ‘19

Dani is a musical studies major at Oberlin College.

What other languages do you know and how did you learn each of them?

I know Portuguese because I grew up speaking it with my parents. My father was an expat who migrated from São Paolo. He went to college in Panama city and then went to UIC where he met my mom, and from there they both went back to Brazil.

Which language do you feel like you can communicate best in or are more yourself? What language feels most like home or comfortable to you?

I feel like I can communicate better in English but it doesn’t feel like home necessarily. What feels most like home is when I’m speaking both English and Portuguese, using words from both languages wherever they work best. This combination is usually what I speak with my mom and dad which is why it feels most like home.

What is your favorite word or phrase in another language besides English that is untranslatable to English? What does it mean?

I think the obvious one in Portuguese would be saudades, which translates to missing but its meaning is more like nostalgia or longing. Another phrase in Portuguese is from a song I like: O samba e pai do prazer o samba e filho da dor. The exact translation of this is Samba is the father of pleasure, samba is the son of pain, but the flow of it in English isn’t the same as in Portuguese.

When you speak in other languages, do you think in the language you’re speaking or translate the words from another language in your head before speaking?

I think in Portuguese when I’m speaking it, but it’s sometimes more limited because most of my thoughts are in English. Its interesting because the thoughts that I need to convey in Portuguese today as an adult are totally different from when I was in middle school in Natal, Brazil. When I was in middle school, all I needed to know how to say was where’s the bathroom, let’s go play ball, stuff like that haha.

What is your favorite dish tied to this language?

I like feijoada because of its history and because it’s one of the things that my mom would always cook growing up. Also I love farofa so much which is manioc flour toasted in fat that becomes really crispy and tasty.


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