Voce Que Manda – You’re the Boss

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I’ve heard the idiomatic expression “voce que manda” at least two times while living in Brazil, and based on the context, I deduce that it probably means, “you’re the boss.”

Before we go any further, let’s see how the Google Translator translates this idiomatic expression.

Oops! It means exactly the same in the Google Translator!

But I swear! I didn’t look this up before! Before jumping up my throat, let me explain my logic to you.

First of all, I thought the Google Translator would have turned up an erroneous translation, but this proves that the Google Translation is becoming more and more refined or “intelligent.”

Word for word, here is the translation:

voce = you

que = that

manda = send

You that send? What the hell that means? It should be noted that in this case, the word “que” which usually means “that” takes on the meaning of “who,” as it often does in some contexts in Portuguese

So let’s go again.

Voce: You

Que = who

Manda = send

You who send? You can’t deduct much from that either, can you?

The first time I heard this expression, it was told to me. I was helping a friend of mine move some furniture around in his apartment. He told me to move it “that way.” And apparently, I did a good job, so he remarked, “voce que manda.”

At that point, I wondered what he meant by “voce que manda.” It didn’t make much sense to me.

But the second time I heard the expression, I was in the Boticario store buying colognes to resell in Georgetown. I asked the sales girl for a few more bags. Then a few more. Then I asked her to give me a few smaller ones. She followed all my requests to the letter with a smile, in the name of good customer service of course. Then, as she handed the last two bags to me, she remarked, “voce que manda.”

At that point, I deducted that the expression probably equates to the English “you’re the boss.”

The Portuguese word “mandar” means “to send.” However, the word has the connotation of a “commanding” send. It’s more like “order.” It has the implication of imperialism embedded in the meaning.

If I say, “the king sent his soldiers,” in Portuguese, I would use the verb “mandar” for English “send.”

But if I said, “the girl send a letter to her friend,” I would use the Portuguese “enviar,” which is the lighter, more friendly translation of “send.”

Here’s another demonstration:

English: Commandment.

Portuguese: Mandamentos.

English: The Ten Commandments

Portuguese: Os Dez Mandamentos

As you can see, the word “mandamentos” has the verb “mandar.”

Mandar and enviar both mean “send,” but as you can see, the word “mandar” has a strong, commanding tone, while enviar has a friendly gesture.

Hence the translation: Voce que manda: You’re the boss.

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