Adoption of British names in Brazil?

Alchemy

Member
England, English.
As title says. Something I've noticed over the years, and was wondering if anyone here could shed some light on this? I've noticed that it's usually the surnames that I see all the time in my country that end in son becoming first names in Brazil. I'm hoping this hasn't been discussed already.
 
  • palomnik

    Senior Member
    English
    Actually, I think that this is more than just a fad or a trend. Anglo-Saxon surnames being used as given names in Brazil is a long-standing custom. There are Nelson Rodriguez (playwright in the fifties), Wilson Martins (literary critic), Nelson de Araujo (novelist in the seventies), Nelson Pereira dos Santos (film director), Baden Powell de Aquino (guitarist). They're not necessarily taken from England; Washington Luis was president of Brazil from 1926 to 1930.

    It's probably only fair to indicate that this phenomenon is not only limited to Brazil, but can be found in other areas of South America, most notably Uruguay: Washington Benevidez (Uruguayan writer), Washington Beltran (president of Uruguay, 1965).

    I'm sure I'm missing a bunch of other names just as well or better known.
     

    Vanda

    Moderesa de Beagá
    Português/ Brasil
    I agree with Palomnik, I think it is just a fad that has already gone. From time to time some particular names appear according to the moment: soccer (all Ronaldos, for example), race car champions (Nelson Piquet, Emerson Fittipaldi), soap opera stars, to mention some.
    In the past before the TV phenomenon they were from famous politicians.
    Nelson, for instance, might have begun with Admiral Nelson. We have plenty of Washingtons, Emersons, Edmilsons, and so on.
     

    Dom Casmurro

    Senior Member
    Brazil Portuguese
    This phenomenon is not confined to Anglo-saxon names. French names used to be very popular, and we can see so many Victor Hugo around that we tend to forget about the original. There is a soccer player whose name is Alain Delon, and I had a co-worker called De Gaulle. Celebrities in general are source of many an inspiration for names. There is a reputable doctor called Luiz Beethoven, and a soccer player Alan Kardec.

    But the funniest story I've heard about such names came from Mossoró, a town in the Northeastern state of Rio Grande do Norte, home of the wealthy Rosado family. Their patriarch decided that all his chidren and grand children would bear French numeral names. Accordingly, the first to be born under that rule was christened Un Rosado, the second, Deux Rosado, the third, Trois Rosado and so on and so forth. The # 18 of that dinasty, Dix-Huit Rosado, became a Senator, and was influential nationwide. But the luckiest of all Rosados was, without a doubt, pretty # 13. Treize Rosado was a young lady who took part in a local pageant and, much to the joy of her elders, was crowned Miss Mossoró.

    P.S.: by googling under "Dix-Huit Rosado", I have just found out that an important theatre in Mossoró was named after him.
     

    Macunaíma

    Senior Member
    português, Brasil
    This phenomenon is more common in the lower classes today (Portuguese names seem to be coming into fashion again). Feminine names ending in -e to make them look French used to be chic -Caroline instead of Carolina, and so on. French names like Alain, Gisele, Pierre can still be easily found in Brazil. One thing that is arguably even more strange about English surnames used as first names in Brazil are names ending in -ton, a suffix used in English for the name of towns. There is a guy at my work called Clayton (Cidade de Argila:eek:). It's just a fad, though. It won't be long until it disappears.
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    There are some names like Edilson or Jerson (some of which I think don't even exist in English), that are formed with the Germanic or North Germanic patronymic suffix -son.
    Nelson is a fairly popular name in Portugal too, though, and has been so for decades.
     

    falc

    Member
    Sahara español
    There´s a lot of British, German, French... names in Brazil or in all the Spaniard America. Just becuase people likes exotic names.
    This phaenomenon is most important in Cuba. I met people called Osiris, Yusimit, Boris, Marisleisis, John...
     

    Dom Casmurro

    Senior Member
    Brazil Portuguese
    Washington is more imposing than George. And... well... George is the founding father's first name alright, but it is also the name of the present President...
     

    Macunaíma

    Senior Member
    português, Brasil
    But why surnames become first names??? If someone likes George Washington, would not it be wiser to call their child "george" rather than Washington? :D
    One reason is possibly because it's common for people in the English-speaking world to address one another by their last names in more formal circumstances, which is unusual in Brazil. So, one hears Mr. Washington more often than George. Also, not all English names ending in -son are family names. Alison is a good example: it's a very popular name in the US (and, to our amazement, it's a female name).

    The most popular English surmanes used as first names in Brazil are probably Wellington, Washington, Ad(d)ison (I have a friend with this name), Wilson and Nelson.

    The German Wagner is quite popular as a first name too, and I've seen Guthemberg, Mozart and Lutero (Luther) as well.
     

    Horazio

    Senior Member
    italian / spanish (bilingual)
    Uruguayan checking in :
    Yes , in Uruguay it was common. Maybe it still is,mostly for the lower class.
    Even if it's common,it's also considered tacky.
     

    Porteño

    Member Emeritus
    British English
    I noticed this phenomenon when I lived in Brazil but it seemed to be restricted to the less privileged classes. Many of my employees bore names like Washington, Wagner, Nelson, etc. and I always thought it rather strange. Is it really a passing fad? It seemed to be pretty well established when I was there (1969-1981).
     

    Vanda

    Moderesa de Beagá
    Português/ Brasil
    Yes, Porteño, now it is not "in" anymore, although you can still find some children named like that. When you were here your employees might have been over 20 years, right? In the last 15 to 10 years, TV and soccer - mainly - dictates fashion, names, behavior, and so on.
     

    ronanpoirier

    Senior Member
    Brazil - Portuguese
    Well, I'm Ronan (Irish name) and I have a brother called Taner (have anyone thought of Tanner last name?). :) And we don't have Irish blood to give some kind of family background justification. But I would not like to be called Alexej (Czech), or Hans (German) or João (Portuguese). I like my name! :D

    I don't think it's weird choosing foreign names. I'm only affraid when they try to match the pronunciation to the spelling so we get some scaring stuff. And it gets worse when they try to add some weird "y" and "h". Maybe it's for Numerology. :)
     

    Porteño

    Member Emeritus
    British English
    Yes, Porteño, now it is not "in" anymore, although you can still find some children named like that. When you were here your employees might have been over 20 years, right? In the last 15 to 10 years, TV and soccer - mainly - dictates fashion, names, behavior, and so on.
    I'm very relieved to hear that, as long as they are Brazilian!
     

    Nanon

    Senior Member
    français (France)
    As Palomnik and Falk already mentioned, this phenomenon is also common in Spanish-speaking countries. I am honoured to be personally acquainted - inter alia - with a Benjamin Franklin in Venezuela. I also met a Nixon, a Stalin and a Rommel... :D

    Names of regions or countries can be found too - Argelia, Bélgica, Bretaña, Grecia, Francia... and América Latina, why not? And there are no limits to creativity for inventing names.
     

    Porteño

    Member Emeritus
    British English
    It has not been so common here in Argentina, probably because for many years the law required that foreign names be translatable into Spanish.
     
    The only example I can come up with, in Turkey, is the name "Fidel" (fidel castro) given to some children over the years. But just fidel not the castro part. According to this news in year 2003, more parents named their kids "fidel" than those who named their kids "tayyip" (tayyip is the name of our president)
     

    Macunaíma

    Senior Member
    português, Brasil
    Names of regions or countries can be found too - Argelia, Bélgica, Bretaña, Grecia, Francia... and América Latina, why not?

    As for geografic names, I've only seen Israel and Iran here.

    Another thing that propably puzzles foreigners is that the letter W in those English names is often pronounced as V, probably due to the influence of German surmanes, not uncommon here. Wilson is frequently pronounced Vilson, Walter as Valter, etc. (Wellington and Washington are exceptions, they are always pronounced here as they are in English). To add to all this confusion, the same happens to German names, sometimes pronounced as if they were English: Weber becomes Uéber, Wolfgang becomes Uúlfgang (not that I've met any Brazilian called Wolfgang!). Not to mention names used by the wrong gender: Sasha for girls, for example.

    In the XIX century there was criticism of the adoption of French names in Brazil, especially for women (like Desirée :D). Now most are virtually extinct. The same will probably happen with English names, but it's inevitable that other fads will come because, let's face it, Portuguese names are so repetitive! I've seen little boys with names such as Enzo (Italian), Cauã (Tupi), Raoni (Caiapó), and girls called Mayara (Tupi), Yara (Tupi) and many more I don't remember now. But surnames used as first names, I think that only happens with English and German ones.
     

    ronanpoirier

    Senior Member
    Brazil - Portuguese
    Macunaíma said:
    As for geografic names, I've only seen Israel and Iran here.
    Interesting. I've seen Georgia, Atenas, Louisiana, Itália and once on a magazine I saw a woman named Zelândia! :eek:


    But to all the preganant woman I've talked to, they are now choosing more "common" names to their kids, such as Lucas, Eduardo, Felipe and Tiago. I guess that is just tendency. In some years we'll have a new one. :)
     

    Alchemy

    Member
    England, English.
    I'm English with a Scottish background from my father's side. My surname is Wilson and my cousins from Brazil like to remind me how common my surname is in their country and how much they dislike it!
     

    Porteño

    Member Emeritus
    British English
    OK, palomnik, but we're talking about people's names. It seems that you are complaining about the number of Amerindian names in São Paulo and I wonder why that might be?
     

    palomnik

    Senior Member
    English
    OK, palomnik, but we're talking about people's names. It seems that you are complaining about the number of Amerindian names in São Paulo and I wonder why that might be?
    They're hard to pronounce. And keep straight.

    Seriously, though, I always thought that there was something patronizing about it rather than a true tribute.

    Rather like the way in the USA they name the major street in every black neighborhood after Martin Luther King. It makes me wish that New York City would rename Park Avenue after Martin Luther King.

    But I'm digressing.
     

    Macunaíma

    Senior Member
    português, Brasil
    I'm English with a Scottish background from my father's side. My surname is Wilson and my cousins from Brazil like to remind me how common my surname is in their country and how much they dislike it!
    It doesn't make sense to me... If your Brazilian cousins look on the bright side, they will see that, if people are using it, it means they like it! :)

    Seriously, though, I always thought that there was something patronizing about it rather than a true tribute.
    That's wide of the mark. Some of the most beautiful names of towns in Brazil are indigenous or mixed between indigenous and Portuguese - Ubá (the town where Vanda was born, by the way:)), Araçuaí, Santa Maria do Suaçuí (because of the River Suaçuí), Sabará, Aimorés, Campos dos Goitacazes, Goiás Velho, Itaipava, Mantiqueira, Serinhaém... And besides, until the early 18th century, the Língua Geral (Tupi-Guarani) was the most commonly spoken, even by the white, in São Paulo. Bandeirantes (explorers) of that time like Fernão Dias Paes Leme, Manuel de Borba Gato, etc., all of them white and of noble lineage, used the Língua Geral as their everyday language. Needless to say, they founded many, many cities, including the aforementioned Sabará, in Minas Gerais.

    But, back to topic, isn't there any foreign names/surnames that are used in English in, say, an unusual way?
     

    Jaén

    Senior Member
    México, español/portugués/inglés
    The most popular English surmanes used as first names in Brazil are probably Wellington, Washington, Ad(d)ison (I have a friend with this name), Wilson and Nelson.
    Don't forget the name Sidnei (Sidney sometimes).

    Wilson is frequently pronounced Vilson, Walter as Valter, etc. (Wellington and Washington are exceptions, they are always pronounced here as they are in English).
    Don't forget Valdisnei. Certainly none of our non-Brazilian friends here (and many Brazilians as well) can even think of the origin of this name.

    Walt Disney = Valdisnei, for some illiterate mother who heard it over there. on TV, perhaps.
     
    Originally Posted by Macunaíma
    It doesn't make sense to me... If your Brazilian cousins look on the bright side, they will see that, if people are using it, it means they like it!
    I guess His cousins dont like it not all brazilians.

    There is one thing I dont quite catch. Why do you say that this is/was a fad among the lower classes? I thought lower classes would be more conservative thus feel more comfortable with typical luso-catholic names.
     

    palomnik

    Senior Member
    English
    But, back to topic, isn't there any foreign names/surnames that are used in English in, say, an unusual way?
    Actually, I can't think of a particular surname that has become a major trend, at least in the USA. Of course, there is a tradition, primarily among Protestants, of using your mother's maiden name as a first name. It has a very distinguished ring to it.

    Aside from that, there are some unusual first names. Oddly enough, there seems to be a tendency to use place names, particularly among white Americans; there are a considerable number of kids getting named Dakota or Montana nowadays.

    The most noticeable trend, however, is an increasing difference in the names that blacks and whites tend to give their children, to the point that you can usually tell somebody's race by looking at their name any more. In the USA it's illegal to attach photographs with a CV, due to anti-discrimination laws; unfortunately, people's names often tell their racial background anyway.

    The worst case of a given name I ever heard here in the States was the poor kid named Sh*thead - which, his parents pointedly said, was pronounced shuh-TEED.
     

    Porteño

    Member Emeritus
    British English
    I certainly have never come across the use of a foreign surname as a first name in the UK. If anyone has an example of this it would be very interesting. In fact the Brits tend to be very conservative with names, unlike our American cousins who are very inventive. Years ago, especially among the less-privileged classes, there used to be a trend of naming children after the latest Royal child. I don't know whether that still continues, but I would hope not. Did those people expect some glory to rub off on their own issue?
     

    Dom Casmurro

    Senior Member
    Brazil Portuguese
    Why do you say that this is/was a fad among the lower classes? I thought lower classes would be more conservative thus feel more comfortable with typical luso-catholic names.
    Families of higher classes usually bear pompous surnames that instantly command respect, prestige and power. In contrast, the surnames of most of the poor families in Brazil usually reveal their humble origin. Silva and Santos are among those; both abound in Brazil, and are biasedly associated with poor families - or, if no longer poor, with a modest background.

    Out of sheer naiveté, lower class parents try to compensate the lack of lustre in their children's surnames through giving them first names that are artificially pompous and, better still, foreign, royal (Elizabeth, Charles, Soraya, Kayser), foundingfatherly (Washington), heroic (Wellington, Nelson), ideological (Lenin or Lenine, Mussolini), literary (Byron, Victor Hugo, Milton, Chateubriand), musical (Mozart, Wagner), genius- (Newton, Freud, Edson) and celebrity-inspired (Marilyn, Elvis, Brigitte).

    To make things worse, names are freely invented, frequently with a foreign 'accent'. One of Brazil's rising soccer stars, Richarlyson, does not owe anything to his name to be better off, but I bet his mother still believes he does.
     
    I understand the idea of giving your child the name of a hero but is not there Brazilian heroes??? What did Washington do for Brazil? and why just American heroes? Do you have Ataturks too (our national hero) I guess not :)
     

    Macunaíma

    Senior Member
    português, Brasil
    These names are given occasionally, with no intent to pay a homage to anybody, and most frequently by people who knows little about History, etc. It's not political.

    There are heroes in Brazilian history (forged heroes, like pretty much all heroes), but if you name your child Pedro, Joaquim, etc., it will pass as an ordinary name, not as a homage to a hero you might have had in mind when you chose the name.
     

    Jaén

    Senior Member
    México, español/portugués/inglés
    Of course, there are many many famous and acknowledged name in the world or Brazilian history, but they don't seem to be pompous to them, or maybe never heard those names before!
     

    Dom Casmurro

    Senior Member
    Brazil Portuguese
    Pedro, Joaquim are ordinary (spanish, I guess).
    They are 100% Portuguese

    But I just think that names like Magellan/Magalhães, Columbus/Colombo
    As Macunaíma put it, this naming craze is not about paying hommage. In 99% of the cases, the parents don't have the faintest idea who Washington is or was. They pick that name just because it's pompous, that's all.

    You are asking why they don't choose Brazilian heroes to name their children after, and the easy answer is, again: this is not about paying hommage.This is about sounding foreign and sounding great. Magalhães, for instance - no matter how great the Portuguese explorer that you have in mind was - is but an ordinary surname in Brazil. It just doesn't sound as great as Wellington.
     
    I understand it better....But how come simple men who dont know any history come to a conclusion that Anglo names "Washington, Wellington" are pompous. I am not a stupid man but I dont even know who Wellington is. Where did those simple men hear the names Wellington etc..:confused:
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    I am not a stupid man but I don't even know who Wellington is. Where did those simple men hear the names Wellington etc..:confused:
    Have you heard of Napoléon, or of the Battle of Waterloo?

    The Duke of Wellington, with the assistance of the Prussian von Blücher, defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
    Waterloo was Napoléon's final defeat.

    Wellington was also twice Prime Minister of Britain.
     

    Dom Casmurro

    Senior Member
    Brazil Portuguese
    I understand it better....But how come simple men who dont know any history come to a conclusion that Anglo names "Washington, Wellington" are pompous. I am not a stupid man but I dont even know who Wellington is. Where did those simple men hear the names Wellington etc..:confused:
    They might be simple alright, but they are not primitive. They are exposed to those names one way or another, and no one can afford to take a guess on how they come across with them. Just keep in mind, though, how intense and caring the name picking process is for any pregant woman and her husband. They want their brand new baby to have the most beautiful, the most glorious, the most respect commanding name of all. And they take a lot of time thinking about it, considering and reconsidering upon a vast array of options. They talk to friends, they check newspapers in search of any word that starts with capital letters, and all at a sudden, in a dull moment during the nine long months, in a very accidental way the father or the mother stumble onto the ultimate choice: AVOK!! Bingo!

    This is how AVOK, a potential Brazilian soccer star, still to be born, will someday in the long future amaze the world with his skills. :)
     
    Pleaseeee no! Avok is not a name!! I just made it up, it does not mean anything at all :)
    I am sorry but I am not still convinced.. how come those village people were exposed to names like Wellington whatever... and they are anglo-saxon names, this just can't be a coincidence. How can "o senhor perreira" know the name of twice Prime Minister of Britain? I think one can take a guess but I am not brazilian so I cant :(

    By the way when I said that names like Magellan/Magalhães, Columbus/Colombo can also be well pompous, I meant them as a "first name" not a surname. As a surname there,of course, must be many Magalhaes. I guess Magalhaes da silva is more pompous than Wellington da Silva :) Thank you Brioche for the news,
     

    Dom Casmurro

    Senior Member
    Brazil Portuguese
    Why are you assuming they are villagers? A great majority of them might well be people living in big cities, being exposed to information available in newspapers, school books, old foreign magazines found in dusty basements, envelopes addressed to someone in Wellington, New Zealand, etc. Take street names, for instance. I googled for "rua Wellington", "avenida Wellington", and "praça Wellington", and found streets, avenues and squares bearing the name Wellington in many Brazilian cities.

    Anyway, as my last post implies, don't underestimate the determination of parents who feverishly do their utmost to find a 'suitable' name for their children. They can do things that you, from Turkey, and even I can't understand. It's a matter of raising the social status of their children. Is there anything more important than that?

    And of course, when the first little Wellington is christened as such, many others are expected to follow. One day, when you least expect it, Wellington becomes a well rooted 'Brazilian name'.

    Cheers!
     
    Hi,
    No, I dont underestimate it -I am not against it I am just (too) curious :) If I underestimated it I would not even care about this thread. I am just curious.

    I still cant understand the relation between Anglo-saxon names and the Brazilian society. I guess I never shall. If those anglo saxon names were popular in Germany, Sweden, Holland etc.. I would not be curious. Dont get me wrong but in a hot, spicy, latin country like Brazil, a first name like Washington is just funny (but not in a bad way)

    I have assumed they were villagers because of the other posters from brazil.

    And of course, when the first little Wellington is christened as such, many others are expected to follow. One day, when you least expect it, Wellington becomes a well rooted 'Brazilian name'.
    That makes sense. So, many people take it for granted.

    Ciao
     

    Vanda

    Moderesa de Beagá
    Português/ Brasil
    The very first Wellingtons, Wilsons, Washingtons' names in Brasil were born in middle class families whose parents went to school and knew world history. I had (he is dead right now) a close friend called Lincoln César born in a wealthy intelectual family. Remember, as I have said before, those were the days before TV and the like so there is nothing to do with "ignorant parents" giving their children pompous name. They were honouring those men because of their role in history: all Napoleões, Lincolns, Césares (by the way what about of all Caesars born in anglo-saxon countries as well as in Latino countries just to mention some?).
    After that first pioneers - those whose name were a homage to the "great men in history" - then others begun to name their children because of relatives with those names, because they found it interesting, because of important persons, stars and so on till it all turned into a fad. A fad that went way to give place to Ronaldos, Robertos, etc.
     

    faranji

    Senior Member
    portuñol
    My favourite Brazilian name has to be that of the relatively unknown football player (he's quite averagish) Creedence Clearwater Couto, a forward who used to play for Guarani and is currently playing in Belgium.

    There's also a footy player named John Lennon Dias. I read an interview where he explained he was named so "after a famous TV presenter or something like that, from long ago, whom my dad was fond of."

    And the best player in my street is a 13-year boy named Ziggymarley Santos.

    Cheers.

    (ps. Please let no one start a thread on Adoption of Graeco-Roman classical names in Brazil.)
     

    Macunaíma

    Senior Member
    português, Brasil
    Creedence Clearwater Couto, a forward who used to play for Guarani and is currently playing in Belgium.
    Não! Diga que isso não é verdade! Meu Deus!!!!:eek:

    Ok. Aside from the odd abnormality here and there :))), the English names mentioned in the first few posts don't sound all that strange anymore, except perhaps that they carry the lower-class stigma. I've been trying to come up with more names, and I remembered that I've had schoolmates called Wallace, Douglas (both Scottish names), and I once met a policeman called Beethoven. Vanderley is also a quite popular name, and it has its origins in a wealthy family from Pernambuco, which descends from a Dutch nobleman, Gaspar van der Ley, who came to Brazil with Mauritz van Nassau during the Dutch occupation of Pernambuco, converted to catholicism and married a member of a powerful Portuguese-Brazilian family, the Lins de Albuquerque Mello.

    I've also been trying to remember the Portuguese surname that I know it's used as a first name in some English-speaking countries: it's Miranda (the Australian top model Miranda Kerr in the picture).
     

    Macunaíma

    Senior Member
    português, Brasil
    ArnoldSarzeneger Santos (don't ask me!) must belong to the same family as Ziggymarley.
    This is esculhambação (I apologize with non-Portuguese speakers, but there is no better word in any given language to convey this)!!! :D

    I can't believe in such a thing! It's forbidden by law in Brazil to give children names that are likely to be vexatious to them. No notary public would agree to be accomplice to a crazy parent who tried to register their newborn child with such a name!
     
    The most popular English surmanes used as first names in Brazil are probably Wellington, Washington, Ad(d)ison (I have a friend with this name), Wilson and Nelson.
    They all end with "-on" is there anything portuguese-like about the ending -on?

    ..."tayyip" (tayyip is the name of our president)
    Sorry I made a mistake here, I dont want to misinform anyone. Tayyip Erdoğan is the prime minister not the president.

    Of course, there are many many famous and acknowledged name in the world or Brazilian history, but they don't seem to be pompous to them, or maybe never heard those names before!
    Probably :)

    A fad that went way to give place to Ronaldos, Robertos, etc.
    That's better, at least they sound brazilian.
     
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