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Brazilian Names Tell a Lot About Brazilian Parents

Brazilian baby names Raimundo, Maicól, Paola – what can you learn from Brazilian names? Of course, they tell a lot about the family's background and beliefs. Name trends are often launched by soap operas and celebrities.

One example: Marcelo, Luciana and Patrí­cia were very popular 30 or 40 years ago, (not anymore), thanks to some  TV characters. Later, in the early nineties, Patrí­cia became derogative – it was a nickname for pretentious and vain girls. So it vanished considerably.

Brazilians also tend to be very creative when defining the way a name will be written. They double letters (sometimes because of numerological studies); use y, k and w freely (letters that only recently were incorporated into Portuguese); mix parts of the names of the mother and the father.

One famous sort-of-hippie singer, Baby do Brasil, named her first-born 'Riroca (yes, the apostrophe was part of the name). Later the girl adopted the more conventional Sarah Shiva). She was followed by siblings Kriptus Baby, Zabelê and other babies who were probably bullied at school.

Check below what some common names suggest about the citizens that carry them (or at least about their parents):

Júlia, Luisa, João, Pedro – In the last decade, upper class families favored short, simple names (not double names, such as Pedro Paulo, João Pedro or Ana Luisa, common among rich kids of earlier generations).

Raimundo, Cí­cero, Severino  – These names are typical of families from the Northeast of the country (region that includes the states of Bahia, Pernambuco and Ceará). They are associated to the cult of Saint Raymond Nonnatus and Padre Cí­cero, a local saint who is not recognized by the Vatican.

Maria – It used to be omnipresent, specially combined with other names (Maria Carolina, Ana Maria, Maria Luisa). It is still very common thanks to catholic families, but it is definitely losing steam, probably because of the progressive shrinkage of Catholicism in the country.

Maicól, Anderson, Kéli, Stéfany – English names and family names are adapted in creative ways, particularly by the working classes.  In even poorer communities, you might find Rolinstoni, Maicojackson – I swear, they do exist!

Kaí­que, Luan, Paola – Some names completely invented become very popular in different social groups. Paola's case is particularly interesting. It is written just like its Italian equivalent, but pronounced in a very different way (with the "o" stressed, not the "a"), due to a very popular soap opera, "Terra Nostra", a tale about immigrants established in São Paulo that spoke with an adorable but very fake accent.

Most common names registered on birth certificates in Brazil in 2008, according to Certifixe:

Girls

Maria
Ana
Júlia
Yasmin
Vitória
Beatriz
Letí­cia
Mariana

Boys

João
Pedro
Gabriel
Lucas
Ví­tor, Victor
Matheus
Guilherme
Luiz

Brazilian born, French citizen, married to an American, Regina Scharf is the ultimate globetrotter. She graduated in Biology and Journalism from USP (Universidade de São Paulo) and has worked for Folha de S. Paulo, Gazeta Mercantil and Veja magazine as well as Radio France Internationale. Since 2004 she has lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in the US. She authored or co-authored several books in Portuguese on environmental issues and was honored by the 2002 Reuters-IUCN Press award for Latin America and by the 2004 Prêmio Ethos. You can read more by her at Deep Brazil – www.deepbrazil.com.

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