Adoption of British names in Brazil?

Outsider

Senior Member
Portuguese (Portugal)
They all end with "-on" is there anything portuguese-like about the ending -on?
The whole point of such names is in not sounding Portuguese, innit?

I doubt very much that Miranda is an exclusively Portuguese name. It looks Latin, and for all I know we may have borrowed it from Shakespeare's play.
 
  • Einstein

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    Is it really so strange that Brazilians use Anglo-Saxon surnames as given names? It seems to be a well-established practice in the USA too. Just think of Jefferson Davis, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harrison Ford...
     

    faranji

    Senior Member
    portuñol
    Thanks for the info, Macu. I always wondered whence the hell could Vanderley possibly come at all! Do you know anything about Djavan and Djalma?

    Another curious thing is some of these anglo names are changed in their transcription so that they become somehow easier for Brazilian speakers to read and pronounce. I've seen many a Deivide and Uílson, and I guess the ubiquitous Edson was intended to sound as Eddison.

    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!
    When I first moved to Bahia, in November 2001, one of the first pieces of news that caught my eye me as a greenhorn in most things Brazilian was a magazine story on a poor couple from the hinterland of the state who had just named* their newborn Osama Bin Laden.

    (* I was gonna say christened, but I somehow cannot picture a Christian priest holysprinkling any sin off an Osaminha)
     

    Dom Casmurro

    Senior Member
    Brazil Portuguese
    Do you know anything about Djavan and Djalma?
    Catalonia had a 13th century king named Jaume. It's Catalan for James. Once in Barcelona, I found out that that name, in Catalan, is pronounced exactly like Djalma. Since then, I've been convinced that somehow the Catalans that emigrated to Brazil were the real source of that name.
    As for Djavan, it is just one of those invented names, with no history behind it. It sounds good though, and suits perfectly its most famous bearer.
     
    Is it really so strange that Brazilians use Anglo-Saxon surnames as given names? It seems to be a well-established practice in the USA too. Just think of Jefferson Davis, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harrison Ford...
    Brazilians are not Anglo-Saxon but the States are.

    Sorry but what is the Portuguese form of Deivid? Is not it David? There is a brazilian footballer called Deivid by the way.
     

    Macunaíma

    Senior Member
    português, Brasil
    When I first moved to Bahia, in November 2001, one of the first pieces of news that caught my eye me as a greenhorn in most things Brazilian was a magazine story on a poor couple from the hinterland of the state who had just named* their newborn Osama Bin Laden.
    Perhaps these are the crazy parents you read about:

    Brasileiro enfrenta Justiça para registrar filho como Osama bin Laden
    Veja Online


    (...) O pai contou aos juízes que a admiração pelo terrorista vem da época em que morou em Bagdá, onde trabalhou como operário de uma construtora brasileira durante nove meses. "Gosto muito do Laden. Ele é uma pessoa boa e não esse terrorista que os americanos dizem."

    Durante o período em que morou no Iraque, Osvaldo, que nasceu na Bahia, conheceu o Afeganistão e o Paquistão. Ele voltou ao Brasil no auge do conflito entre Irã e Iraque.

    Argumentos - Durante a conversa que teve com os juizes, Osvaldo tentou desmontar os argumentos que impedem o registro do nome com base na Lei de Registros Públicos. (...) "Não abro mão e vou recorrer a todas as instâncias", declarou. Se não conseguir, o casal decidiu registrar o menino como Mateus, mas já avisou que ele será chamado para sempre de Osama bin Laden Feliciano de Oliveira Soares. Osvaldo garantiu aos juízes que o nome será bem aceito em Bagdá, para onde a família pretende se mudar no próximo ano.
     

    ter_

    Senior Member
    UK-English
    You must be joking.
    I don't think Einstein was joking. I agree with him that the practice of using typical English (and anglicized Scottish/Irish) surnames as forenames seems to be a well-established practice in the USA, but not in the UK. I think it is, or at least was, quite common among African-Americans because I used to watch American basketball on late night TV and some of the players names almost made me laugh. You'd be hard pushed to find anyone in the British Isles whose first name is "Berkeley" or "McMahon".
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    I agree with him that the practice of using typical English (and anglicized Scottish/Irish) surnames as forenames seems to be a well-established practice in the USA, but not in the UK.
    But that's to be expected, since English is the language they speak in the USA...
     

    Einstein

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    I wasn't joking. Of course there are two sides to this question: 1) that they are Anglo-Saxon and 2) that they are surnames. Obviously I had the second point in mind.

    To Outsider: Ter says: "... in the USA, but not in the UK". You reply: "But that's to be expected, since English is the language they speak in the USA..." It's also the language they speak in the UK (GB). In GB it's not usual to adopt surnames as forenames. This was Ter's point and also mine.
     

    Guigo

    Senior Member
    Português (Brasil)
    Arriving now to add that this phenomenon seems to occur mostly in 'younger countries' (USA included) where some cultural melting pot is still very active. In the USA, one may find people named: Alonzo, Bolivar, Maury, Delmar, Linda, Paula, Renata, Angela, Denise, Leroy, etc, and not all have Italian or Iberian or French ancestors. Also, we have the re-discovery of African and Native roots in names like Shaquille, Latoya, even they only look like African or Native.

    I think that the use of foreign surnames as given names in Brazil comes from the fact that that's the way some famous and celebrated people are known like: Roosevelt, Washington, Joffre, Ney, Wagner, Lennon. There are few exceptions like Fidel or Napoleão.

    EDIT: just to add that names like Gerson, Helber, Nathan, Jonatas are biblical having nothing to do with some eventual tendency.
     

    ampurdan

    Senior Member
    Català & español (Spain)
    I've always found it weird (I'm thinking about one Venezuelan "Kevin Costner de Jesús"), but on a second thought, how can we know that our more current usual first names were not once last names of mighty tribal heroes?
     

    Guigo

    Senior Member
    Português (Brasil)
    Anyway, researching old papers I found one by R. Magalhães Jr. published in the 70s where he informed that the 100 most used male given names in Brazil were all traditional: João, Antônio, Luiz, José, Carlos, Francisco, Sérgio, André, Marcos, Fernando, Pedro, Ricardo, ect, and for the 100 most used female given names only 2: Denise & Michelle weren't traditional; the others were common like: Maria, Ana, Regina, Vera, Teresa, Lúcia, Fernanda, Joana, Cristina, ect.

    The situation changed few in 30 years IMO and those given names from foreign background probably account for less than 1% of the total.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    Hello. I'm reviving this thread as I just met two Brazilians with weird sounding first names:

    Jeffeson
    Anderans

    Both of them seem like they are based on foreign sounding last names, but even so they are wrong to boot. With Portuguese sounding last names they sound really awful: Jeffeson Oliveira, Anderans Silva de Melo. The last names I made up as not to name real people. What on earth would make someone name their kids like that?
     

    Darth Nihilus

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    Hello. I'm reviving this thread as I just met two Brazilians with weird sounding first names:

    Jeffeson
    Anderans

    Both of them seem like they are based on foreign sounding last names, but even so they are wrong to boot. With Portuguese sounding last names they sound really awful: Jeffeson Oliveira, Anderans Silva de Melo. The last names I made up as not to name real people. What on earth would make someone name their kids like that?
    Isn't the name JeffeRson? If yes, that's a common name over here. Actually, many names ending with -son are common (ex. Anderson) and not really looked on as being "foreign" names. Anderans, however, is..uhm, an oddity.

    In Brazil, giving your children foreign names with creative spellings is a beacon of poordom; poordom is a state of mind for some poor Brazilians. Neymar is a solid example for that.

    Why do they do that? Well, why do some afro-Americans name their children like Latasha, Tyreque, Franshawn....? If you find the answer, let me know. :D
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    Isn't the name JeffeRson? If yes, that's a common name over here. Actually, many names ending with -son are common (ex. Anderson) and not really looked on as being "foreign" names. Anderans, however, is..uhm, an oddity.

    In Brazil, giving your children foreign names with creative spellings is a beacon of poordom; poordom is a state of mind for some poor Brazilians. Neymar is a solid example for that.

    Why do they do that? Well, why do some afro-Americans name their children like Latasha, Tyreque, Franshawn....? If you find the answer, let me know. :D
    No, it was definitely Jeffeson without r, and Anderans not Anderson. That was one of the reasons I was taken aback. Jefferson and Anderson would have seemed more normal to be, yet they are surnames. To me it would be exactly like naming someone Da Silvah Jackson or Holveira Jones.

    Some African-American names are bizarre, true. They combine the names of their parents or other relatives. So Franshawn could be the daughter of Frank and Shawn, but I agree those name sting a bit.
     

    Evgeniy

    Senior Member
    Russian
    No, it was definitely Jeffeson without r
    They are probably taught not to pronounce the [r]. (I am confused when it is and when it is not pronounced, I personally avoid it).
    For them, it is probably not a surname of a person, something personal, but an abstract idea… Like Concepción in Spain.
     

    basslop

    Senior Member
    Norsk (Norwegian)
    Back to the start of the thread - the use of -son names as first name. It is not just Latin America. It is also used in Africa. I think there was a guy from somwhere in the southern parts of Africa who was named Nelson Mandela.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    They are probably taught not to pronounce the [r]. (I am confused when it is and when it is not pronounced, I personally avoid it).
    For them, it is probably not a surname of a person, something personal, but an abstract idea… Like Concepción in Spain.
    Maybe they don't pronounce the R. That is probably true, but adopting a foreign name and writing it incorrectly is beyond me. Why bother.
     

    Evgeniy

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Well, they write Portuguese with (almost) Portughese spelling. The rules are strict in Portuguese: if you don't pronounce the sound, then you don't write the letter. My guess is that for them it is not exactly an English surname, but rather a Portuguese word (an abstract idea of something, like maybe being illustrous), so I can't see anything inadequate with this. :)
     

    Darth Nihilus

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    Well, they write Portuguese with (almost) Portughese spelling. The rules are strict in Portuguese: if you don't pronounce the sound, then you don't write the letter. My guess is that for them it is not exactly an English surname, but rather a Portuguese word (an abstract idea of something, like maybe being illustrous), so I can't see anything inadequate with this. :)
    Not exactly mate. For example, in homem (man) the letter H is just an ornament, it's not pronounced at all. There are other numerous instances. The letter R usually is not pronounced in Portuguese when in Coda position of the last syllable, ex: caçar (to hunt) can be pronounced caça. But this is not a rule, some people do pronounce it.

    In Jefferson we definitely pronounce the R. Jeffeson is just the invention of a creative (or nonsensical) parent.
     

    Fernando

    Senior Member
    Spain, Spanish
    I find it hard to say his name without putting in an R and then I don't know if it should be Jeffayson or Jeffison. I think I'm just going to rename these guys Jeff and Andy. :)
    Think that for a Portuguese-speaking person the pronunciation "Jeffison" does not even appear in your mind. So, there is no ambiguity.

    I once had a visit card from a 'Jhonny Gómez' (Gómez stands for his real surname, which was a very Castillian surname). Not Johnny, but Jhonny. Nobody ever doubted how it 'should' be pronounced.
     

    Darth Nihilus

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    I find it hard to say his name without putting in an R and then I don't know if it should be Jeffayson or Jeffison. I think I'm just going to rename these guys Jeff and Andy. :)
    Wouldn't it be easier for you to drop the E instead and pronounce it Jeffson, like Jackson? Anyway, I agree, Jeff and Andy is way more practical.
     

    Youngfun

    Senior Member
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    As a coincidence, most of the Brazilian girls I've met on the internet have non-Portuguese names, such as Laila (Arabic), Yara (Tupi), Kelly Karoline (English + French with creative spelling), Karime (Arabic), Ingrid (English?), Tawanyh (Persian).

    Only in one case the language of the name was to honour the family's ancestry: Karime who is of Lebanese descent. And she has a cousin named Shakira (the singer is also of Lebanese descent).

    In the case of Tawanyh, her family is now a high class emigraed to Mexico, and her mother liked the name Tawanyh when she saw it on a perfume when travelling to Iran.

    Kelly Karoline could be a typical example of low class family choosing a name that appears sophiscated. It's a mix of English, and a name with -e ending (Caroline as someone mentioned above) but rendered even more exotic by changing the C to K.

    I've met several Carolinas. One of them told me the same thing, that only low class people, or people in remote rural areas give exotic names.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    Fernando: Jhonny! :D I'd kill my parents. Why????? Do you think there is a chance they made a mistake on the business card and he didn't want to have them redone??

    Darth Nihilus: Actually the way he pronounces Jeffeson sounds really exotic, like nothing like it.

    Youngfun: Ingrid is Scandinavian. I think of a long tall blonde girl. Almost as blonde and tall as someone named Sabina.
     

    mexerica feliz

    Senior Member
    português nordestino
    Kelly Karoline could be a typical example of low class family choosing a name that appears sophisticated.
    Not necessarily, there are many English-sounding names among upper middle class and upper class Brazilians,
    for example Kelly de Almeida Afonso (more famous as Kelly Key) born into an upper middle class family of Portuguese ancestry in Jacarepaguá, RJ.

    So, you see poor people named João and Maria,
    and rich people named Kelly or Jefferson,
    there is no rule.

    Names of African and Amerindian origin (like Yara, Jacyra, Kauan, Kauê, Iracema, Janaína, Jurema etc.) are also evenly distributed among social classes...

    I found the trend of using Italian city names (like Verona or Siena) in German- and English-speaking countries much more puzzling...
     
    Last edited:

    lorenzogranada

    Senior Member
    English - mid-Atlantic
    In Brazil, where I lived among the poor and rubbed elbows with some of the rich too, in the innocent and carefree 1960's, the "heroic foreigners" fad seemed to have started when poor kids went to school for the first time and brought home their text books. Parents just leafed through them and chose the juiciest name they could find for their next-born. I have a long list of the most outrageous ones I knew personally and also heard of. My Brazilian wife taught school in a favela and told me one of her pupils was named Albert Einstein Ferreira, just to give one awful example. Can you imagine going to the grocer and saying, "Albert Einstein, give me a kilo of onions"? But you couldn't persuade people that this was a bad idea - for the poor, having a "rich" name meant the child had a better chance of becoming rich himself. When I gave private English lessons in wealthy homes in Ipanema, a dear friend in the favela asked me to take the dried-out umbilical cord of her last child - which she had been saving just for the purpose - and bury it, when my pupil was in the loo, in his potted plants, "so that she will be rich like him". I refused, because it was nonsense but also because my pupil might have thought I had gone mad, or - if he believed in macumba - trying to cast a spell on him!
    I have always wondered if "Wilson", which was the name of my best friend, and also of a Colombian one I met five years later in his country, comes from Woodrow Wilson or the sea captain. I think it was the US President, who appeared as a just and kind man who helped the poor, like Kennedy - and in the 1960's there were plenty of little barefoot Kennedys dancing about...
     

    Guigo

    Senior Member
    Português (Brasil)
    Most popular names registered in 2018 (Brasil), for newborn boys (meninos) and girls (meninas):

    Mais populares entre os meninos:
    Enzo Gabriel - 18.156
    Miguel - 17.699
    Arthur - 17.119
    João Miguel - 16.049
    Heitor - 14.025
    Pedro Henrique - 13.672
    Davi - 10.206
    Bernardo - 9.914
    João Pedro - 9.519
    Gabriel - 9.452

    Mais populares entre as meninas:
    Maria Eduarda - 15.760
    Maria Clara - 14.170
    Alice - 12.482
    Ana Clara - 11.059
    Helena - 10.573
    Valentina - 10.325
    Maria Luíza - 9.353
    Laura - 9.252
    Maria Alice - 8.782
    Maria Cecília - 7.719

    Source: Centro Nacional de Informações do Registro Civil.
     

    Angelo di fuoco

    Senior Member
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    Just another Nordic sounding name like Lotta, Elsa, Alva, Tilda, Cornelia. :)
    Except that Cornelia, while it is in truth a Roman name, is nowadays old-fashioned in Germany. A woman called Cornelia is most probably in her fifties. That said, I had a class-mate called Cornelius in the mid-90s.
    Alva, in spite of the final a, is a male name, for all I know.

    I found the trend of using Italian city names (like Verona or Siena) in German- and English-speaking countries much more puzzling...
    I know only one Verona (Pooth, née Feldbusch) and only one or two Siennas (not Sienas). In the German-speaking countries there's definitely no trend calling girls like Italian cities.
     
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