General Question

sjg102379's avatar

Do Brazilians not use their last names?

Asked by sjg102379 (1230points) January 13th, 2008

I’ve been noticing this in professional sports—when Brazilians play (either as individual members of a team, or as a Brazilian national team), the names on the back of their jerseys are their first names, not their last names, as is usually customary. And I noticed while watching pro volleyball on ESPN, all the teams from other countries were officially referred to in the scores, etc, by their last names (ie Walsh-Mays) while the Brazilians were referred to by their first names (Eliana-Gisele). What’s that about?

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1 Answer

jonno's avatar

“Why do so many Brazilian soccer players go by one name?

“That’s the Brazilian convention. Nicknames and first names are used in all settings, no matter the gravity. Brazil’s president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, is known to all by his nickname, Lula. Clergymen, doctors, and other professionals are frequently known by an informal name. The phone book for the town of Claudio even lists inhabitants by their nicknames rather than their surnames.

“Brazil’s affinity for nicknames might stem from the country’s historically high illiteracy rate. As such, shortened spoken names are typically used more often than longer birth names. In Brazilian society, the use of a first name or nickname is a mark of intimacy. It’s also often a class signifier. Lula, for one, is known for his working-class roots.”

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