WORD FOR THE WISE

Brazil

The Advertiser - SA Weekend - - UP FRONT -

For the next month, the gi­ant South Amer­i­can coun­try will be cen­tre of the uni­verse as it hosts the World Cup, the big­gest sport­ing car­ni­val on the globe. Aus­tralia will be there, but its so­journ may be brief. There are a cou­ple of the­o­ries on how Brazil re­ceived its name. One pos­tu­lates that it de­rives from a Gaelic leg­end about an is­land that only ap­pears once ev­ery seven years and which ac­cord­ing to one story was called Hy-Brazil. But the more pop­u­lar the­ory goes back to Por­tu­gal’s coloni­sa­tion of the coun­try in the 1500s. Ini­tially the area was known as Land of the True Cross, but as it de­vel­oped as a trad­ing post its main ex­port was a tree called the pau-brasil. It was a wood that pro­duced a bright red dye. So red it was like an ember. And Latin for ember is brasa.

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