Brasil '77 : "Tonga" translation - What the...?

TulitaPepsi

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
I stumbled across the lyrics to "Tonga" (A Tonga Da Mironga do Kabuletê) [by Toquinho & Vinicius de Moraes] from PAÍS TROPICAL, and put them through Google Translate to see what would turn up. Unfortunately, Google's "Portugese" is not the same as "Brazilian Portuguese" so the resulting translation is something of a puzzle as to what it all means. Sounds like threats from an angry deity.

(fascinating Wiki entry on the differences between the European and Brazilian languages:
Brazilian Portuguese - Wikipedia)

Lalalalala Lalalalala
Lalalalala Lalalalala
Lalalalala Lalalalala
Lalalalala Lalalalala
Lalalalala Lalalalala

A tonga da mironga do kabuletê
A tonga da mironga do kabuletê
A tonga da mironga do kabuletê
A tonga da mironga do kabuletê
A tonga da mironga do kabuletê

Eu caio de bossa
Eu sou quem eu sou
Eu saio da fossa
Xingando em nagô

Você que ouve e não fala
Você que olha e não vê
Eu vou lhe dar uma pala
Você vai ter que aprender
A tonga da mironga do kabuletê
A tonga da mironga do kabuletê
A tonga da mironga do kabuletê
A tonga da mironga do kabuletê
A tonga da mironga do kabuletê

Eu caio de bossa
Eu sou quem eu sou
Eu saio da fossa
Xingando em nagô

Você que lê e não sabe
Você que reza e não crê
Você que entra e não cabe
Você vai ter que viver
Na tonga da mironga do kabuletê
Na tonga da mironga do kabuletê
Na tonga da mironga do kabuletê

Você que fuma e não traga
E que não paga pra ver
Vou lhe rogar uma praga
Eu vou é mandar você
Pra tonga da mironga do kabuletê
Pra tonga da mironga do kabuletê
Pra tonga da mironga do kabuletê

Lalalalala . . .


***************************************************************


The Tonga of Mironga the kabuletê
The Tonga of Mironga the kabuletê
The Tonga of Mironga the kabuletê
The Tonga of Mironga the kabuletê
The Tonga of Mironga the kabuletê
I fall down
I am who I am
I come out of the pit
Cursing in nagô
You who hear and do not speak
You who look and don't see
I'll give you a slap
You will have to learn
The Tonga of Mironga the kabuletê
The Tonga of Mironga the kabuletê
The Tonga of Mironga the kabuletê
The Tonga of Mironga the kabuletê
The Tonga of Mironga the kabuletê
I fall down
I am who I am
I come out of the pit
Cursing in nagô
You who read and don't know
You who pray and do not believe
You who enter and do not fit
You will have to live
In konguletê mironga tonga
In konguletê mironga tonga
In konguletê mironga tonga
You who smoke and don't bring
And you don't pay to see
I'll plague you
I'm going to send you
To tonga from mironga do kabuletê
To tonga from mironga do kabuletê
To tonga from mironga do kabuletê
Lalalalala. . .
 

Mike Blakesley

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
I’ve seen several of Sergio’s Portuguese songs run through translations. Almost always they come out sounding downbeat or sad, when on record they don’t match up with that feeling. Makes me wonder how accurate the translations are.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
I read one of the interviews with Raul Malo for The Mavericks' latest record, En Español, and what he said about language made sense. He is a first-generation Cuban American (his parents relocated here circa 1960), so he grew up in a bilingual household. The point he made was that the conversational Spanish he spoke while growing up is not the same as the Spanish he used for writing the five new songs for the record. In fact, they made use of a decades-old Argentinian rhyming/word book to help create the phrases.

Google's translations will align with spoken language, not anything like song lyrics or poetry, especially if the lyricist or poet use different meanings of the words or phrases things differently. Words that rhyme in other languages won't make sense in terms of what comes out of a translator. I'm not surprised that many are way off base when song lyrics are run through a translator. Sometimes we can get a rough idea of what a song is about, but the actual meaning of the lyrics might be lost.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
A tonga da mironga do kabuletê

These lyrics pretty well line up with the lyrics printed in the Japanese CD of PAIS TROPICAL, with the exception of that one main line. As is typical with Japanese, they've transposed an "l" and "r" and printed:

A tonga da milonga do kabuletê
 

lj

Well-Known Member
The song has a beautiful melody by a supreme melodist--Toquinho. Vinicius and Toquinho between 1970-1980 comprised an amazing songwriting team. Gracinha's vocal of this song is incomparable. All the Portuguese lyric songs on Brasil 77's Pais Tropical album as interpreted by Gracinha are classics on par with the best from Brasil 66. As for the title of the song--they are definitely curse words and X rated. Here is a link with additional background information.

A Tonga da Mironga do Kabuletê
 

lj

Well-Known Member
Vinicius de Moraes--diplomat, poet, and lyricist--was one of Brazil's most important cultural figures of the 20th century. His songwriting teams were legendary. First he worked with Jobim, then Carlos Lyra, then Baden Powell, and finally Toquino. What musical heavyweights! Vinicius was the creator of the play Black Orpheus. In 1959, the movie version took the artistic world by storm, and was a major impetus in the promotion of Bossa Nova around the world. Here is the delightful version of "Tonga" by Brasil 77 from 1971.

 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
This is probably a good place to mention that the above song "Tonga" is contained on the soundtrack to the film IN THE KEY OF JOY and is on the deluxe edition of that soundtrack.
 

eddie7

New Member
I stumbled across the lyrics to "Tonga" (A Tonga Da Mironga do Kabuletê) [by Toquinho & Vinicius de Moraes] from PAÍS TROPICAL, and put them through Google Translate to see what would turn up. Unfortunately, Google's "Portugese" is not the same as "Brazilian Portuguese" so the resulting translation is something of a puzzle as to what it all means. Sounds like threats from an angry deity.

(fascinating Wiki entry on the differences between the European and Brazilian languages:
Brazilian Portuguese - Wikipedia)

Lalalalala Lalalalala
Lalalalala Lalalalala
Lalalalala Lalalalala
Lalalalala Lalalalala
Lalalalala Lalalalala

A tonga da mironga do kabuletê
A tonga da mironga do kabuletê
A tonga da mironga do kabuletê
A tonga da mironga do kabuletê
A tonga da mironga do kabuletê

Eu caio de bossa
Eu sou quem eu sou
Eu saio da fossa
Xingando em nagô

Você que ouve e não fala
Você que olha e não vê
Eu vou lhe dar uma pala
Você vai ter que aprender
A tonga da mironga do kabuletê
A tonga da mironga do kabuletê
A tonga da mironga do kabuletê
A tonga da mironga do kabuletê
A tonga da mironga do kabuletê

Eu caio de bossa
Eu sou quem eu sou
Eu saio da fossa
Xingando em nagô

Você que lê e não sabe
Você que reza e não crê
Você que entra e não cabe
Você vai ter que viver
Na tonga da mironga do kabuletê
Na tonga da mironga do kabuletê
Na tonga da mironga do kabuletê

Você que fuma e não traga
E que não paga pra ver
Vou lhe rogar uma praga
Eu vou é mandar você
Pra tonga da mironga do kabuletê
Pra tonga da mironga do kabuletê
Pra tonga da mironga do kabuletê

Lalalalala . . .


***************************************************************


The Tonga of Mironga the kabuletê
The Tonga of Mironga the kabuletê
The Tonga of Mironga the kabuletê
The Tonga of Mironga the kabuletê
The Tonga of Mironga the kabuletê
I fall down
I am who I am
I come out of the pit
Cursing in nagô
You who hear and do not speak
You who look and don't see
I'll give you a slap
You will have to learn
The Tonga of Mironga the kabuletê
The Tonga of Mironga the kabuletê
The Tonga of Mironga the kabuletê
The Tonga of Mironga the kabuletê
The Tonga of Mironga the kabuletê
I fall down
I am who I am
I come out of the pit
Cursing in nagô
You who read and don't know
You who pray and do not believe
You who enter and do not fit
You will have to live
In konguletê mironga tonga
In konguletê mironga tonga
In konguletê mironga tonga
You who smoke and don't bring
And you don't pay to see
I'll plague you
I'm going to send you
To tonga from mironga do kabuletê
To tonga from mironga do kabuletê
To tonga from mironga do kabuletê
Lalalalala. . .
Hi there!
I'm an Brazilian and have to say many lyrics feom Brazilian artists are confusing even to the people.

The main may to understand this lyric, is to review the composer background and the social/political situation at the time.

Vinícius lived in Basis and had a connection with afro-brazilian religion Candomblé, só he was close to terms from Nagô and other idioms. Toquinho was very close friend.

Then we have the period of military dictatorship ruling Brazil, with strong censorship on any artistic movement. It created a kind of era of hidden messages on every single kind of human expression, as an inventive way to workaround the system.

In other words, this lyric is directed to the military bloc, cursing them straightforward. Inner of the possible translations for the cursing in Nagô would be like Go F.U., so replace in the lyrics, and imagine that you are sending this "letter" to a committee of military to be approved to record... That is the beautifully designed by the author. He cursed the system directly, by sending it to them, and indirect by all people singing and understanding what just happened.

There are some information here, I guess you can translate to English
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Hi there!
I'm an Brazilian and have to say many lyrics feom Brazilian artists are confusing even to the people.

The main may to understand this lyric, is to review the composer background and the social/political situation at the time.

Vinícius lived in Basis and had a connection with afro-brazilian religion Candomblé, só he was close to terms from Nagô and other idioms. Toquinho was very close friend.

Then we have the period of military dictatorship ruling Brazil, with strong censorship on any artistic movement. It created a kind of era of hidden messages on every single kind of human expression, as an inventive way to workaround the system.

In other words, this lyric is directed to the military bloc, cursing them straightforward. Inner of the possible translations for the cursing in Nagô would be like Go F.U., so replace in the lyrics, and imagine that you are sending this "letter" to a committee of military to be approved to record... That is the beautifully designed by the author. He cursed the system directly, by sending it to them, and indirect by all people singing and understanding what just happened.

There are some information here, I guess you can translate to English
Exatamente! One of the reasons why I love Tropicália: ou panis et circensis.

From Portuguese Wikipedia (A Tonga da Mironga do Kabuletê – Wikipédia, a enciclopédia livre):

According to the "Novo Dicionário Banto do Brasil," by Nei Lopes, these words mean the following: (1) tonga (from Kikongo), "strength, power"; (2) mironga (from Kimbundo), "mystery, secret" (Dicionário Houaiss da Língua Portuguesa adds: "witchcraft"); (3) cabuletê (from unknown origin) "despicable individual, vagabond".

So, roughly, I suppose you could translate it as, "The Force of the Despicable Man's Witchcraft." As mentioned above, it's steeped in Afro-Brazilian and Pan-African subtlety, so I suppose the average Brazilian wouldn't understand, as these words come from indigenous African languages (like Kikongo and Kimbundo). It's like a dog whistle, if you will--the words chosen were meant for a certain "in group" to be able to understand; the "in group" certainly was not the military dictatorship!
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Xingando em nagô
This is another African reference, I believe. Xingar (cognate of Spanish chingar) comes from Kimbundo xinga, and means to curse/swear. According to Wiktionary, nagô is a Brazilian Portuguese word for either the Yoruba language or a Yoruba person (from western Africa), particularly a descendant of a Yoruba slave brought to Brazil.

So, "xingando em nagô" is literally "cursing in Yoruba," but Yoruba is probably a double-entendre for cursing someone out using any Afro-Brazilian word (whether it comes from Kikongo, Kimbundo, or any of the other indigenous African languages that Portuguese has had contact with throughout the centuries).
 
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