EP word of the week (#74): SIDA/sida

Today we celebrate yet another public holiday (on this date in 1640, the Portuguese monarchy was restored after a period of 60 years of Union with the Spanish crown), but it’s also World AIDS Day – the fact that it falls on a holiday usually helps to get the message out there, with HIV/AIDS charities being able to reach people in the places of leisure/consumption, usually with red ribbons in tow.

I thought this would be a good opportunity to both bring attention to this day (as I’ve done a few times in the past, and will do so in the future) and also reveal how there are grammar and/or vocabulary to be learnt from them!

The EP word for AIDS is [a] SIDA (in recent years it has been incorporated into the language as a regular common noun, [a] sida). It’s an acronym formed by translating the name of the disease to Portuguese – Síndrome da Imunodeficiência Adquirida – and rearranging the initials. The HIV virus is also translated the same way, VIH, for Vírus da Imunodeficiência Humana. Together, they can also be joined just like in English, VIH/SIDA (HIV is also quite common when referring to the virus, but AIDS is never used in reference to the illness).

The word is read like a normal word with two syllables – si + da, therefore making it uma siglaaids-ribbon

BP just went above and beyond simply changing the word into Portuguese – in fact, it did went for the road less travelled and decided to keep the English acronyms – [a] AIDS and [o] HIV – and simply changed them into a more Brazilian pronunciation! While HIV and VIH are both acrónimos in the two variants, with means they’re pronounced by reading each letter individually, AIDS is a sigla, with “ai” followed by “ds” (which is pronounced like “dis” or “des” in a final positon).

This is a weird choice to explain only because Portuguese doesn’t really have a /ds/ diphone like English, so it would be impossible to replicate this sound in BP without adding an extra vowel (for all intents and purposes, the word rhymes with all words ending in “-des”, like cidadesfrades, and idades).

Funnily enough, EP is better endowed to replicate this /ds/ sound, since our unstressed E sound is usually elided (cut off, or omitted) in regular fast speech [but as per our rules regarding the sound of final s, it would only sound as /s/ before an initial vowel in the next word, though).

Long story short, AIDS/Aids is translated into European Portuguese as [a] SIDA/sida.


2 thoughts on “EP word of the week (#74): SIDA/sida

  1. Rafael December 14, 2016 / 11:43 pm

    There’s a motive why we, Brazilians, adopted the English acronym for AIDS instead of SIDA, which is also used in all Hispanosphere.

    Until the late 60’s, Aparecida was a very common name for ladies here (according to the Brazilian Census Bureau, IBGE, it is still the 93th most common name today). Its diminutive is “Cida” (spoken the same way as SIDA). Trying to avoid possible embarrassments for all those women, Brazilian authorities discarded the translated acronym, adopting the English one instead.

    Aparecida is a common name in Brazil for the same reasons as Guadalupe (Mexico), Fátima (Portugal) or Lourdes (France): it was the city where a Virgin Mary’s apparition occurred in the past. In a then mostly Catholic nation, the name caught on as a homage to Jesus’s mother.

    Liked by 2 people

    • luisdomingos December 16, 2016 / 8:11 am

      Hi, Rafael! (Olá!)

      Thank you for your feedback – that’s a very interesting explanation! I had never made the connection, but I must admit religion isn’t really my forte.

      Thanks for stopping by! I hope you found the blog interesting and helpful in learning some different Portuguese words :)

      Um abraço para o Brasil!


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