Virundum is a serious thing, although it’s impossible to be serious about it – 05/24/2023 – Sérgio Rodrigues

Virundum is a serious thing, although it’s impossible to be serious about it – 05/24/2023 – Sérgio Rodrigues

It’s time to give virunduns the cultural weight they deserve. A few days ago I launched a provocation on Twitter and the result was an explosion of misunderstandings that made even a statue of Caxias laugh. This column will only fit one part.

Yes, in the land where the indisputable classic “change your bikini without stopping” (for “playing BB King without stopping”, line from the song “Noite do Prazer”, by the band Brylho) sprouted, the production of virunduns is as vast as it is varied .

There are those who appreciate the onomastic precision of “My son Válter Gomes dos Santos/ which is the most beautiful name” (“Pais e Filhos”, Legião Urbana) and those who prefer the lysergic mood of “As I got off the plane/ Judy stepped on a magnet” (“Acai”, Djavan).

They all have in common the inability to repress smiles when exposed to crude verses such as “Who knows the Indian roasted a little girl” (“Malandragem”, Frejat and Cazuza, in the voice of Cássia Eller) or “Aí an analyst ate me” (“Divina human comedy”, Belchior).

It is said that the name “virundum”, based on “Ouviram do Ipiranga”, was coined by Paulo Francis in the days of “Pasquim” to name the misunderstanding caused by a fortuitous sound similarity. English baptism came first.

The article in which the American journalist Sylvia Wright launched the neologism “mondegreen” dates back to 1954, based on a popular poem from the 17th century in which the verse “laid him on the green” is understood as “Lady Mondegreen”. The confusion is untranslatable, of course. Virunduns always are.

The important thing is to register that Wright was, until further notice, the first voice to rise in defense of the mondegreens, maintaining that they impose themselves because they are aesthetically superior to the original verses.

I don’t know if I’ll go that far, however tempting “Scooby-Doo dos Sete Seas” (“The Discoverer of the Seven Seas”, Tim Maia) is. When I say that virunduns deserve to be taken seriously as a cultural phenomenon, I am thinking of an argument similar to the one Paulo Rónai used to defend puns in his book “How I Learned Portuguese” (Edições de Janeiro).

Unsatisfied with the reputation of “the lowest form of humor” that surrounds the pun, often seen around in the company of the adjective “infamous”, the Hungarian scholar recalled that it was cultivated by great writers, such as Shakespeare, and even by Jesus Christ: “And I also tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church”.

It doesn’t stay there. Rónai states that “the essential element” of the pun is the impossibility –or at least the difficulty– of translating it into other languages, which makes it “linked to the intimate substance of each language”, like the best poetry. The virundum is the same.

From the sample I collected, there is a doubt about who would be the king of virunduns in Brazilian music. The most obvious candidate is Djavan, who, in addition to receiving the most citations, owns a style in which free association and sound games make the original itself seem like a misunderstanding.

You have to respect whoever opens the door to virundums like “Easier to stone ponies in Bali” (“If…”) and “Desert yellow and the three tenors” (“Oceano”), in addition to the one I mentioned above.

But Djavan has a great rival in Belchior, owner of a rare feat —two beautiful virunduns in the same song. In “Like our fathers”, we find “But you’re the one who doesn’t see it” and “You’re at home, guarded by God, cutting your dental floss”. Duel of titans.

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