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Caldo Verde Is Not Stone Soup

Persons, Names, Words, and Proverbs in Portuguese America


George Monteiro

Caldo Verde Is Not Stone Soup identifies elements of an emerging Portuguese American culture in the United States. The book discusses subjects and themes that reflect the richness and diversity of this culture. Included are analyses of the Portuguese fondness for nicknames over surnames, pejorative terms ("portugee," "Gee"), beau ideal heroes (John Philip Sousa, John Dos Passos, and Peter Francisco), now forgotten early emigrants, foreign visitors to the Azores (Samuel Longfellow and Thomas Wentworth Higginson), proverbs from the oral and literary traditions, the Portuguese sailor on American ships, and the saga of English As She Is Spoke, a serious-minded textbook that became a comic phenomenon.

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Chapter 1: New Names in a New Country


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Coming down the street towards somebody you know coming the other way, somebody I always pass the time of day with, as we met in going by each other and often in teaching, in an insulting way, you know, for the hell of it, you cock your head at each other. You approach each other. Sometimes you say something pretty good and sometimes you don’t. But it’s like that. Something in him does that to you, rises up, you know. Sometimes you get a nickname for somebody that way, you know. It comes over you what to call him. That’s where these nicknames come from, I suppose. Somebody just thinks it that way over again—unexpectedly, you know—hunting for it and sees it in the newspaper next day.

—Robert Frost (1960)1

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