LETTERS

LETTERS

By

In Brazil the name Aurélio is synonymous with dictionary. So famous is the Aurélio
dictionary that the publication, which was first released in 1975, has sold in its
quarter-of-a-century career 15 million copies, much more than any book published in Brazil
except for the Bible. Despite this tremendous success the work had not been updated for 13
years. When we look at the fast-paced, new terms which have been added to the
language—just think about technology and Internet in particular—this period
might seem more like a whole new era.

For those—most Brazilians—whose only Portuguese-language authority is the Aurélio,
the wait is over. The new version of the book, which is now called Novo Aurélio
Século XXI (New Aurélio Century 21) has just been released. 100,000 copies were
printed with 300 pages more than the previous edition. 28,000 new terms—for a total
of 168,000 words and phrases—are included in its 2,160 pages.

The new Aurélio will cost around $50. Initially 55,000 copies were printed, but
50,000 more should be on bookstore shelves soon. The new edition, the same as the
previous, has a CD-ROM version. The dictionary will also have a version for children with
games and multimedia resources. It also can be accessed on line at www.aurelio.com.br

Aurélio Buarque de Holanda Ferreira—uncle of famous composer Chico Buarque de
Holanda—the philologist from the state of Alagoas who gave name to the dictionary
personally led the effort to put together the previous two editions. Since his death,
however, in 1989, the mission was taken over by Marina Baid Ferreira, a Holanda student
who became his wife. The second edition of the Aurélio had been dedicated to her.

The Aurélio first edition came out in 1975 with the research work having been started
in 1968. For the latest edition the research effort started in 1986 led by Holanda himself
who continued the effort until his death in 1989. The team, which has seven linguists and
more than 40 experts in several areas, is already busy preparing the next edition although
there is no anticipated date for its release.

When Holanda finished his research in the mid ’70s and went looking for an editor he
heard many negative comments before Carlos Lacerda—former Guanabara’s governor who
had been stripped from his political rights by the military that had taken over the
Brazilian government—decided to publish the dictionary. Lacerda was then the chief of
the Nova Fronteira publishing house.

The Aurélio is not the most complete dictionary in Brazil. The Michaelis Moderno
Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa, for example, has 201,174 terms, 30,000 more than
the Aurélio. While the Michaelis has 2,259 pages, the Aurélio has 2,160.
Since its release in 1998, the Michaelis, however, has sold less than 90,000
copies. Using numerous examples and literary citations_its trademark_the Aurélio
continues to win the popularity contest. Antônio Houaiss, the man who translated James
Joyce’s Ulysses into Portuguese has been researching for years what is considered the most
ambitious dictionary ever in Portuguese language. But nobody knows when the Houaiss will
be making it to the bookstores.

The new words introduced in the dictionary are slang, as well as medical, scientific
and computer terms which have appeared in the last 13 years. Two thousand new words are
Africanisms. Sorbonne University professor Michel Lapan was in charge of Africanisms,
those terms borrowed from Africa and Portugal’s former colonies, that have been
incorporated to the everyday language.

Among the new slang is roubada (stolen), a term that now also means a bad deal.
Among computer terms just borrowed from English there are: download and bug.

Professor Margarida dos Anaw6kx, who together with Marina Baird Ferreira, coordinated the
new edition, stressed that their goal was to incorporate into the dictionary words already
being used in books, newspapers, radio, and TV. "The use is what makes the language
and the terms used in computer books and the media were ratified by us. The scientific
terms are the consequence of discoveries that occurred in the last 13 years."

Despite the fact that Aurélio and dictionary are interchangeable in Brazil you will
not find the term aurélio in the Aurélio. Just a case of modesty. "My
husband was very modest and he didn’t want to include his name in the second
edition," explained Marina. She simply followed his lead.

Editora Nova Fronteira, the dictionary’s publishing house, used a thinner paper and a
different typeface in a way that the new Aurélio has the same size and is lighter than
the 1986 version even thought it has 25% more terms.

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