Pejorative/Slang for Portuguese People

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Zephirus

Member
European Portuguese
Hello. I am portuguese and I have a question if I move out/visit USA. I would like to know about what to watch out when people refer to me. I have a good knowledge of the english language. But all I want to know what kind of pejoratives/slang can be applied to portuguese people and its meaning (all around the USA). Thank you.
 
  • Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    You'll be pleased to know that I've never heard of any pejorative terms applied to people of Portuguese descent. :)

    Please note that nationalities and languages, such as English, are always capitalized.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    There is a database of American racial slurs kept at http://gyral.blackshell.com/names.html. Without prejudice, I should think the Portuguese would be taken to be Hispanic.

    If I may add, it is a little sad that, before you even get there, you feel that Americans might address you in this manner or that you need to be aware that offence is being given.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    The English is rhyming slang - "Pork and cheese". (But we hold them in high regard; their other epithet is "our oldest ally.")
     

    Zephirus

    Member
    European Portuguese
    Humm but I thought the term Hispanic could only refer to the American people of Spanish speaking. But lets say that I was born in USA but a full ethnic Portuguese. What kind of person I would be classified? I wouldn't be classified as a white man? People would disregard me as they disregard Mexicans and such. Under a court I would be considered an Hispanic? Because I know that in USA a black just for being black can get bigger sentences.
     

    Miss Julie

    Senior Member
    English-U.S.
    Maybe someone from the northeastern U.S. can weigh in. Most people of Portuguese descent seem to live there! Or a Canadian...a lot of Portuguese emigrated to Canada as well.
     

    Zephirus

    Member
    European Portuguese
    I'm saying this because mostly Portuguese are normal South Europeans. Black hair, brown eyes, a bit tanned but still European. There are Portuguese that are plain Vanilla, even blue-eyed and blond.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Humm but I thought the term Hispanic could only refer to the American people of Spanish speaking.
    If you think that the sort of person that resorts to racial slurs is going to make a distinction between being Spanish/Mexican/Puerto Rican/Cuban and Portuguese, then you given them too much credit.
     
    Hispanic is not a slur, and it is not a race. It merely means that one is from a Spanish-speaking country. Technically, this means that Brazilians and Portuguese are not Hispanic, while Spaniards and Venezuelans are -- but because Americans are more likely to be familair with those parts of Latin America and the Iberian peninsula where Spanish is spoken, I can imagine that the term could be used less accurately to include Brazilians and Portuguese.
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Maybe someone from the northeastern U.S. can weigh in. Most people of Portuguese descent seem to live there! Or a Canadian...a lot of Portuguese emigrated to Canada as well.
    I live in New Bedford. It has a large Portuguese population, with many of the families having come here over the years to work in the fishing industry, as well as significant groups from other Portuguese-speaking places such as Cape Verde. Even today there are areas where one hears as much Portuguese as English - if not more. (We were in one restaurant not long ago where they had to call "the English-speaking waitress" over to explain some of the menu items. There was only one such person.)

    If there were a pejorative term for Portuguese people, I'd have heard it by now. I haven't.
     

    Zephirus

    Member
    European Portuguese
    <Response to deleted comment.> Yes Americans are very welcome (as long as they know the language). Even more now with so many people getting out of the country. Now as of USA I saw the movie Crash and I know the society can be very racist. In the last years USA were getting tired of Immigrants at all. So my question about the pejoratives resumes to the level of racism towards my people. Plus I'm studying to be a linguistic so it is important to know a bit the slang...
     
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    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Ah! Crash, in my opinion, was very exaggerated.

    We're going off-topic here and this particular forum (English Only) is not a general discussion forum. Once you have been on WRF for a while you will have access to other forums where general discussion is encouraged.

    The only term I can think of (and one I haven't heard in probably forty years) is "Dago", which was once used as an offensive term for Spaniards or Portuguese (supposedly as a reference to the common first name "Diego"). Keep in mind that the people calling names usually don't care that Spaniards and Portuguese come from completely different countries.

    I only heard it a few times on television shows when I was growing up. I hadn't ever heard anyone use it around me and had to ask what it meant. I was told it was a hateful word you should never use.
     
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    Miss Julie

    Senior Member
    English-U.S.
    The only term I can think of (and one I haven't heard in probably forty years) is "Dago", which was once used as an offensive term for Spaniards or Portuguese (supposedly as a reference to the common first name "Diego").
    I've heard the term "dago" quite often throughout my lifetime, and 100% of the time it was used to refer to an Italian-American.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    You'll be pleased to know that I've never heard of any pejorative terms applied to people of Portuguese descent. :).
    Neither have I, although it would not surprise me if they exist in some areas.

    (My dismal view of my fellow Americans is that most haven't the foggiest idea where Portugal is located or if so, that Portuguese is a fine and ancient language distinct from Spanish)
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I've heard the term "dago" quite often throughout my lifetime, and 100% of the time it was used to refer to an Italian-American.
    Perhaps it's a regional thing. The entry in Merriam-Webster says:

    usually offensive
    : a person of Italian or Spanish birth or descent

    The Free Dictionary's entry says:

    da·go also Da·go (dg)
    n. pl. da·gos also Da·gos or da·goes also Da·goes Offensive Slang
    Used as a disparaging term for an Italian, Spaniard, or Portuguese.

    YourDictionary says:

    SLANG a person, often dark-skinned, of Spanish, Portuguese, or, now esp., Italian descent: a term of hostility and contempt

    Longman's Dictionary of Contemporary English says:

    a very offensive word for someone from Spain, Italy, or Portugal. Do not use this word.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Post #10
    There are Portuguese that are plain Vanilla, even blue-eyed and blond
    Just call me Raspberry Ripple. Or maybe you meant as dark as a vanilla pod?

    How is anybody going to know you are Portugese, per se? Probably you will be moving in educated circles in cities where the population is very mixed and you will mingle in with everybody else. For the record, I have never heard any slang term for Portugese, in fact I have never met a Portugese person. Of course I know where the country is and have a good general knowledge of its history. Usually there is racism only when there are already areas of conflict or perceived competition by irrational elements in the host country. I lived for many years in a Western European country rife with xenophobia and racism, looking no different from the natives, and was once told that all us effing Brits should get out. I was just sitting on a bus minding my own business chatting quietly with a friend.

    Try reading some quality newspapers.

    Hermione
     

    Sparky Malarky

    Moderator
    English - US
    Melungeon is a term you are unlikely to hear, as most Americans are unfamiliar with it. It refers to a specific group of people in the Appalacian region who have a confusing mixed-race background which was thought to include Portugese. I think it has been used perjoratively. This is the only perjorative term I can think of that could appy.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melungeon
     

    Zephirus

    Member
    European Portuguese
    Oh I see someone did dig my old post here (this is from 2011 already). Such a long time I'm not been here! So now that I am here I can report what I learnt in a year, the most Portuguese condesed zones are Rhode Island and Southern Massachutets, it makes a triangle between Providence, Fall River and New Bedford. It seems there is no prejudice to Portuguese people. Which is strange, US people blamed in ancient times the Irish, the Polish, sometimes even the French because of immigration issue's (a.k.a. "They are stealing our jobs kill them with fire!), and the Germans and Japanese and Native Americans in war issues, Canadians and Chinese because of rivalries. Portuguese were and are immigrants for a long time in the US but for some reasons they were a real motive of racism or discrimination, which is odd on the social point. There isn't much slang in Brazil too, and in Spain for what I know none. I heard some discrimination that led to slur in Switzerland and France, the French call the Portuguese kids "Petit Maçons" translated Little Stone Mason. But in general I haven't found, much less in the USA. Summarizing the thing we are more victims of ignorance than discrimination.
     

    Pedro y La Torre

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    The French have a number of racist words to refer to Portuguese people (France probably has Europe's largest Portuguese population outwith Portugal itself), but none have transferred to English as far as I'm aware.
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    Portugee is listed as a dated, pejorative word here, and there are plenty of examples of its use here.

    Rover

    The *only* time I've ever heard this word used was by a person of Portuguese descent and his wife. I wouldn't be surprised if it hadn't originally been considered mildly derrogatory, but I think I'm pretty safe in saying that if so, it's lost its impact. It's now pretty much neutral.

    And I agree with those who have pointed out that you're unlikely to hear anything, and if you do, it will be under the assumption that you are Hispanic in some fashion or other.
     
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    Cenzontle

    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    If your Portuguese-ness becomes a topic of conversation with Americans,
    tell them you are proud to be of the same "nationality" as John Phillip Sousa (pronounced "suza")—well, on his father's side, anyhow—
    inventor of the sousaphone and composer of military marches, including "The Stars and Stripes Forever".
     

    debot

    New Member
    English
    Hello. I am portuguese and I have a question if I move out/visit USA. I would like to know about what to watch out when people refer to me. I have a good knowledge of the english language. But all I want to know what kind of pejoratives/slang can be applied to portuguese people and its meaning (all around the USA). Thank you.

    Greenhorn or wetback
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I can't see that "Greenhorn" would be an epithet for the Portuguese: Greenhorn = a person who is new to or inexperienced at a particular activity.
     
    "Greenhorn" was also at one time (it is a very old-fashioned term) a way of referring to new immigrants, but it was the sort of term by which an Irish immigrant who in 1930 had been in the US for twenty years would disparage the ignorance of American ways displayed by his cousin, who had arrived from County Roscommon last month.
     

    debot

    New Member
    English
    Like Egmont I've been around awhile & in Portuguese dominant areas. Agreed both terms are old fashioned and yet were often used pejoratively, if known to be Portuguese. The Portuguese were not taken to be accepted as White or Hispanic and were most often grouped either separately or with the First Nations (possibly due to the somewhat similar lifestyles being most often farmers or fishermen.) Often times the Portuguese were further separated into "White Portuguese" (primarily mainland, and being more "accepted") or "Black Portuguese" (Azores, Africa etc) Greenhorn was usually used with newer immigrants and Wetback for any Portuguese who had or who's ancestors had "swam over" thus...a wet back. :(
     

    Miss Julie

    Senior Member
    English-U.S.
    Greenhorn was usually used with newer immigrants and Wetback for any Portuguese who had or who's whose ancestors had "swam swum over" thus...a wet back. :(
    As usual, I should have prefaced my response with "in the United States..." (where wetback is almost exclusively limited to Mexicans or those crossing the Mexican border). :oops:
     
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    jmichaelm

    Senior Member
    English - US
    About 30 years ago I lived in Somerville MA near a Portuguese neighborhood. People who disliked them referred to them as "those damned Portuguese." Apparently the bigots I met knew of no special term to apply.
     

    debot

    New Member
    English
    Respectfully must disagree. Wetback was sadly often years ago used for the Mediterranean people who immigrated to the North Eastern USA. Thanks for the corrections and my apologies for my inattentiveness.
     

    debot

    New Member
    English
    About 30 years ago I lived in Somerville MA near a Portuguese neighborhood. People who disliked them referred to them as "those damned Portuguese." Apparently the bigots I met knew of no special term to apply.

    What? Not "those damned STUBBORN Portuguese?" Bigots call them stubborn, friends call them tenacious.

    ;)
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Respectfully must disagree. Wetback was sadly often years ago used for the Mediterranean people who immigrated to the North Eastern USA. Thanks for the corrections and my apologies for my inattentiveness.
    Every dictionary I've checked specifically refers to Mexico. "Wetbacks" from Mexico supposedly swam across a river (the Rio Grande which is not very wide, shallow, and slow in places). Swimming across the Atlantic from Portugal (which is not on the Mediterranean) seems unlikely.
     

    debot

    New Member
    English
    Sadly I don't need to consult a dictionary for this. Apparently the point being its a direct line across water but if your experience is different than mine, glad to hear it.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    There is a website that lists about 2,000 racial slurs1. It is fairly well researched but not absolutely reliable and probably not exhaustive. The Portuguese entries are as follows but apart from 6 and 9 I have never heard any of them in current use and 8 only in historic use and then to Portuguese from Portugal and not in a derogatory manner. Usually, Portuguese get a good press - at least in the UK where they are "Britain's oldest ally."

    1. Pocho Hispanics Chicano derogatory term referring to Hispanics who can't speak Spanish. Used by Hispanics. May technically only refer to Portuguese people.
    2.
    PIGS Mediterraneans Portuguese, Italian, Greek, Spanish. Specifically refers to Mediterranean men and their piggish behavior toward women in particular
    3.
    Fish Portuguese Bacalou (codfish) is a major part of their diet.
    4.
    Greenhorn Portuguese Derogatory term for Portugese. Often used when referring to those of Portugese descent who come from the Azores. Meaning stupid and backwards. More derogatory than the term "Portagee."
    5.
    Manny Portuguese Because it seems nine out of ten Portuguese guys are named "Manuel", or "Manny"
    6.
    Pork and Cheese Portuguese Sounds similar.
    7.
    Pork-chop Portuguese Sounds similar.
    8.
    Portagee Portuguese Derogatory term for Portugese. Often used when referring to those of Portugese descent who come from the Azores. Meaning stupid and backwards.
    9.
    Portugoose Portuguese Portu"geese" = Portu"goose"
    10.
    Tuna Portuguese Portuguese in San Diego worked principally as tuna fishermen.

    1 The site and its list disappear and reappear under various names from time to time, probably due to public pressure.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    PIGS Mediterraneans Portuguese, Italian, Greek, Spanish. Specifically refers to Mediterranean men and their piggish behavior toward women in particular
    I think this is hardly likely. In speech it sounds just like "pigs", who may of course be of the law enforcement officer variety or of the male chauvinist variety.

    Spelled like that, in upper-case characters, I've only ever come across that term as a contemptuous way of referring to those EU countries listed that have been having particularly serious economic problems in recent years.
    PIGS (economics) - Wikipedia
     
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