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This is Brazilian Portuguese, just for context.

In the popular Capoeira song, Paranauê, the second line is almost always "Capoeira me venceu, Paraná" (occasionally, this gets rendered as "Capoeira que venceu, Paraná", which definitely shifts the meaning). What seems to differ is whether people translate that as something like "Capoeira has defeated me" or "Capoeira saved me", with that difference seemingly varying whether the person believes the song is about talking about how Capoeira has taken over their life versus whether it's describing how Capoeira won a war in Paraguay.

One example of the latter can be seen here:

Vou dizer minha mulher, Paraná (I’m going to tell my wife)
Capoeira me venceu, Paraná (Capoeira saved me)

Is either translation correct?

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  • 1
    I'd say neither. Maybe "capoeira won me"? I don't know the song by the way. – Schilive Mar 28 at 22:31
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    Not everybody is a translator. But for someone like me that is, it makes no sense in English to say: Capoeira defeated me. The meaning properly translated is: Capoeira has won me over. The phrasal verb: to win someone over to something. – Lambie Apr 11 at 16:18
  • Eu dira venceu-me – ClMend Apr 21 at 10:24
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"me venceu" Means defeated me.

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  • Makes sense. I'm guessing people are trying to use the que venceu version's reasoning with the verses they know. – Sean Duggan Apr 11 at 3:15
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    No, it does not make any sense. Who would say that? A person might say they have been won over by it with the meaning: I am now convinced Capoeira is great. We say in slangy English: Capoeira beat me (I have to admit I love it.) – Lambie Apr 11 at 16:19
  • Eu diria venceu-me – ClMend Apr 21 at 10:24
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1 - 5 Ter supremacia sobre; dominar: O bom senso acabou vencendo a impulsividade e a arrogância. Nem sempre a razão vence.

Good sense ended up winning over impulsiveness and arrogance.

Or: coming out ahead of

2 - 10 Convencer alguém ou um grupo de pessoas; persuadir: Venceu os pais, que nunca a deixaram viajar sozinha, provando-lhes ser uma pessoa responsável.

She convinced or persuaded her parents, who never allowed her to travel on her own, proving to them she was a responsible person.

Michaelis_português brasileiro

Capoeria has won me over OR Capoeira has convinced me [of its worth]

Musical Addendum:

Here is one of the most famous songs about Capoeira, from the great composer Vinicius de Morães. This is the chorus:

Capoeira me mandou
Dizer que já chegou
Chegou para lutar
Berimbau me confirmou
Vai ter briga de amor
Tristeza camará

That chorus personifies both Capoeira, the fight-dance and the instrument, the Amerindian berimbau.

And if you don't know the song Berimbau, here's the full Monty:

Berimbau for the words

For the composer singing the song with other famous singers: Berimbau

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The lyrics for this song haven't been written in standard Portuguese. I've found different lyrics for this same song, such as here, and here. -
Here, a third version, it definitely sounds like old Afro-Brasilian Vernacular Portuguese.

From what I can understand, "capoeira me venceu" means "capoeira has defeated me" or "capoeira has won". However, depending on context, it might mean "capoeira defeated me and has conquered my heart and mind".

ps In Afro-Brazilian culture, Capoeira can refer to a traditional fight (developed by enslaved Africans in Northeastern Brazil during the 16th century) which used to be fought in earnest. Nowadays, it can be just a manifestation of black culture as a dance. It has also been growing as a sport modality.

See ilustrations below. The first picture shows how Capoeira is performed in the 21st Century. The second picture depicts what it must have looked like in the 19th or early 20th Century. Until 1937 Capoeira was considered a crime and fighters were sistematically arrested by the police. enter image description here enter image description here

EDIT Several Brazilian writers, poets and composers use Afro-Brazilian Vernacular Portuguese in their works, which by no means makes such vocabulary standard Portuguese.

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  • How so, "Capoeira defeated me"? This is not clear to me. Is Capoeira an agent, a person or group of persons, that has physically defeated the singer? That doesn't feel plausible. Or is it a metaphorical defeat in the sense of "it has conquered me and I have surrendered to it", meaning that the singer has embraced it? That feels more plausible to me, but I am an outsider and don't have any cultural knowledge to understand this with certainty. I feel that the asker is in the same position. – ANeves thinks SE is evil Mar 29 at 0:40
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    @ANevesthinksSEisevil In other language sites, lyrics interpretation is considered off-topic as, more often than not, several answers may be given and only the author knows exactly what they mean. I've offered some possible meanings but I don't have any sources to back them up. As far as I know, Capoeira can be a fight, a dance, both a fight and a dance, and also the person who engages in it. – Centaurus Mar 29 at 1:36
  • Capoeira is Afro-Brazilian culture restricted to Bahia and perhaps some neighbouring states. I'm not an expert in the subject. – Centaurus Mar 29 at 1:39
  • @ANevesthinksSEisevil "Or is it a metaphorical defeat in the sense of "it has conquered me and I have surrendered to it", meaning that the singer has embraced it?" It's one of the possibilities I considered when I wrote "defeated and conquered me". – Centaurus Mar 29 at 1:42
  • It is Brazilian Portuguese. I'll try to remember to add a bit more context to the question tonight. Sorry. It was all a bit clearer in my head as to what I was asking. – Sean Duggan Mar 29 at 19:21

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