Unspoken Portuguese rules of etiquette
Olá, Senhora Carol,
Obrigado for a most helpful post. We all have a lot to learn!
We totally noticed the lack of apparent friendliness among strangers. I think it was especially jarring because we'd been fed this steady stream of "The Portuguese people are the friendliest, nicest, most welcoming people on the face of Planet Earth" on Facebook, only to arrive and find most people on the street wouldn't even make eye contact, much less say hello.
However, we've found in actual face to face situations, people are really nice and helpful. We were trying to find an access road to a beach one day and a guy could tell we were confused and jumped out of his car to come over and help us find where we were going. We've also had several really nice interactions with employees of various businesses who were willing to suffer through our terrible Portuguese to try to help us, as well as give us tips on our pronunciation and word choice.
There truly are plenty of super nice people - they're just not necessarily going to greet you as you pass one another on the street. Just one of those things that can be different...
This is so helpful. Thank you for taking the time to put it together for us. Maybe I'll make a few less mistakes now. 🙂
Oh- good to know! Thank you!
Ah, I could go on and on and on with this complicated cultural differences... But, as said, we portuguese are very understanding of these cultural challenges. So, don't be afraid. Observe, repeat, ask - we are pleased and proud to explain (even when we, who are 100% portuguese, don't agree with our own codes...).
By the way, when adressing to a man - formally - whose name is (example) Manuel Silva
[I'm not explaining here, now, our 100 km names... but I can, if you are interested.]
you will say Sr. Silva OR Sr. Manuel, depending on how he is called by others - rarely it will be Sr. Manuel Silva (except calling him in a doctor's office or some administrative and formal situation).
With a woman, the last name is NEVER used. Explaining: Isabel Pereira will be Dona Isabel OR Sra. Isabel - she will NEVER be called Sra. Pereira.
[The difference between the right use of «senhora» and «dona» would be also complicated to explain... So, in a first contact, stick to Senhora - unless you heard others call the lady Dona (which, by the way, means... «lady», «senhora») and follow what you hear.]
When presentations are made, you will be attentive and imitate what is said.
If the presentation is «Sr. Paulo...», you will adress to him as «Sr. Paulo».
If it is «O Vasco...», you will adress to him as «Vasco».
Same thing for the ladies.
Use the first name only when you are told (by the person) to do so.
Are there exceptions? Of course. Are there other ways to adress to people. Yes. But these here are safe for beginners. Stick to them.
Imitate only what you hear often and when you are sure that is right. In doubt... don't. Stick to the formal way.
This one we definitely want to publish in Portugal Living Magazine. It's helpful, useful, resourceful! Love the title, too. Permission requested.
Thanks so much for this; incredibly helpful!