Portuguese Lesson: Aconteceu Um Imprevisto

Completely foreseen traffic in São Paulo…and yet…


It’s been a while since the Owl has given you all a Portuguese lesson. As some of you know, the Owl spent nine wonderful years in Brazil on two tours of duty–one working for a telecom company during Brazil’s telecom privatization in 1998, and once when Mr. Owl was transferred there in 2008. We moved to Weston from Brazil in 2014 just after the World Cup because no one but no one moves away from a country during the World Cup. Remember this is in 2026 when the Cup is here.

Portuguese will always be my favorite language because of its sayings. German is a close second because it is (sorry to say) crazy–like the word for friendship is Freundschaftsbeziehungen which how is that even possible? Your friendship has ended by the time you have pronounced that. Never mind. Portuguese.

Today’s saying is “Aconteceu um imprevisto” which directly translated means “something unexpected has happened.” Brazilians use this term for many many many situations. Like my homework is late because aconteceu um imprevisto which might be that the student has not foreseen how hard it was, or that maybe the dog ate the homework, or maybe they just got caught up in Snapchat. The most amazing thing is that no one ever asks the speaker “what happened?” — they just accept that life is full of unforeseen occurrences and that’s okay. Yes, be late two hours to a party because “aconteceu um imprevisto” like I was actually at another completely foreseen party until now. Here, have a beer.

You can also use the phrase as was most used in São Paulo, one of the largest cities in the world, as a reason for being late even though the traffic is never good and you well know that you have to leave your house to travel 2 miles at least an hour before meeting start. Once I spent 45 minutes trying to drive a city block. But it’s not unforeseen. And yet….”aconteceu um imprevisto.”

What is also fun about “aconteceu um imprevisto” is that the speaker has accepted no blame whatsoever. Something unexpected happened…I can’t be held accountable for that–I had absolutely nothing to do with it. It happened. Not that I made it happen. Nope, you just utter that phrase and you are forgiven because life is full of the unexpected, at least to a Brazilian.

Yesterday I used “aconteceu um imprevisto” while talking to a long-time Brazilian friend in England. I was supposed to be on a plane there tomorrow to celebrate her graduation from graduate school this Friday. Due to unforeseen circumstances, I cannot go. We had this trip planned since February. It will just be postponed, not canceled, and the reasons were not relevant to our conversation. All is forgiven.

Now, Weston, you have a full day of activities in front of you and they are all foreseen: Welcome Back Weston at Land’s Sake, the Codman Arts and Crafts Fair, the Weston Dads campout (wait, will that happen if there is storming? Someone let me know), WCCA Sports Swap, Cub Scouts Open House and last, but definitely not least, the Weston Boys Soccer team takes on the Northeast Metro Tech High School Knights at 11 am at Proctor Field.

The Knights are getting a new high school right now as their high school was built in 1968 and “does not meet the needs of today’s students.” Huh…sound familiar, Weston? Our high school? 1962. Just saying…if the town gets a request for a new high school…there is nothing unforeseen here. Yes, I digress but aconteceu um imprevisto.

Happy Saturday, Weston! This concludes your Portuguese lesson for today.


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