Friday, February 11, 2011

It's All in a Name

I dare you, go to your local daycare and look at their list of students. Ok, don't do that. You'll look creepy. But as a Mom, I got the inside scoop today while walking the slow path of my youngest's re-adaptation to school.

I was bored out of my mind waiting around so I checked out the class lists posted on the bulletin board in the parent waiting area.  I was astonished by the names. Seriously they have like 4 or 5 of them.

My first thought was how do the parents think of 2 first names!? I had a hell of a time coming up with one.  So you have little João Pedro and cutie Maria Victoria, among many others.  Adorable names.  Really, I am just amazed by the mad name combination skills of the parents here. Gold star.

That's where thought number 2 comes in. I always have a thought #2, don't I.

Anyway, how are they ever going to learn to spell their name? João is a tough enough for a 4 year old. I mean, the accent mark is enough to confuse the smartest of preschoolers. Hell, they can't even do an S, imagine making them do a discrete scribble above a letter. Now add in a second word all together. And go.  

I know you all think I'm making a mountain out of a mole hill. Of course I am. It's what I do best and what my husband loves the most about me. Maybe not the last part.  But just wait for it.  Wait for it.

Add in the last name.

Poor little João not only has to write João Pedro but also has to include Cavalcanti Pereira Silva de Olivera.

João Pedro Cavalcanti Pereira Silva de Olivera.

That's just mean.  You have to have a 5th Grade reading level to master that kind of name! And while that name was a fabulous creation out of my own mind (thank you thank you), the names really are that long.

Hell, you can spot my children's names from a mile away due to the shortness.  Personally, I don't want to be little João Pedro when he goes for a year abroad and tries to get a US drivers license.  We just don't have that kind of space available on our paperwork.

If I had a last name like Cavalcanti Pereira Silva de Olivera, I would name my kid Jay or Joe. Maybe Jose or Yuri. You know, something to lighten up the thing. There's really no need to give them a second first name to cover the Great Grandfather when we see it in the last.

Of course Brazilians are a sentimental people.  They love their families, their names, and mostly their children. They want to honor the elderly they adore by including their name in their childrens'.  That's awesome and I love it.

So their children will bear the burden of that love and then, quite possibly, pass it down to their children. The best part, most hilarious part in my opinion, is that they don't even notice. The double name is all the rage. You know who complains or says something about it, my son with the simple first name. 

Go figure.


  1. There's a 4-year-old living with his mother in our building. When I asked him what his name was, he sputtered it all out at once: Something like, "PedroHenriqueFelipeNacimentodaSilva." I'm guessing for rhetorical effect. The point is, I still have no idea what his name is. I tried asking again, and he did the same thing. SO now I don't know what to call the little bugger

  2. Then these guys get famous and they name a street after him. I still don't know the names of all the streets in my neighborhood - way too long!

  3. I like how they pick and choose...and never choose the same combination.

    My dad is a letter carrier in the US and there are tons of hispanics and Brazilians on his mail route. He hates the endless combinations that this leads to

    Maria Dolores Silva Martines Da Cunha can have letters addressed to what seems like 50 different people

    Maria Silva Dolores Silva Maria Dolores Silva
    Maria Martines Dolores Martines..
    Maria Dacunha...
    Maria Silva Martines Dolores Silva-Martines...
    Maria Cunha, Maria Silva Cunha, Maria Martines Da Cunha... M. Dolores da Cunha, Lola Cunha

    Multiply that by 4-5 people per household, 1000households (plus all of the mixed families which add in extra last names for the second kids dad) and he goes crazy.

    Now I understand why the mailmen here really don't check the names on the letters, just the addresses.

  4. hahahaha! All of these comments are so true!

  5. I agree Jim. I was thinking about this just yesterday when I was driving and having a hard time finding a street (thank GOD!!!! for the GPS I brought with me from the US with Brazil maps!). The street names are so damn long it takes too much time trying to read it all and before you know it, you've gone past the street because you couldn't read it all quickly enough. Or, you've turned on the wrong street because the name was "Rua Jose Marcos Gasparini Carvalho de Oliviera" and you're looking for "Rua Jose Marcos Gasparini Carvalho de Silva". Two different people, seperated by two blocks.

    Did I mention that I'm soooooo glad I brought my GPS with me? Yeah, just in case I forgot to mention it.


  6. Você sabe que foi complicado convencer meu marido irlandês a colocar meu sobrenome na Chloe? aqui eles só usam o do pai, acho machismo e bati o pé, fiz questão de "abrasileirar"... é complicado, mas nunca nem tinha pensado nisso! hahahaha

  7. I know what you're talking about; I've seen these monstrous sized names.

    So, can I many last names do your children have? One? I figure this is something we'll have to think about when we decide to have children. I like the idea of my children having my maiden name but def. want them to have their father's name because I took his name when we got married. I just don't want them to have a problem if/when they live in the U.S.

  8. Rachel,

    Traditional Brazilian families, most likely the ones that have Portuguese origin, will usually keep adding names without a strict guideline to be followed and so will Spanish families.
    The "newer" Brazilians, I mean, the ones that have more recent European immigrant background have started to follow a more simplistic tradition, many have Americanized the way to name their children and only keep the father's last name.
    So, today in Brazil, the most common is for a new born to acquire the father's paternal last name and the mother's paternal last name.
    It's really hard trying to convey these subtle peculiarities to American compliance officers in the financial services arena.
    But it's not a firm rule, people mix match anyway they want and "Cartorios" don't pay too much attention to it.
    Brazil is also notorious for an astounding number of extremely similar and even exact names, hence all the bureaucracy with signatures needing "recognition" from Cartorios etc... many times, the only way to differentiate people is by their ID numbers or the RG, Registro Geral or General Registry.


    Which is the GPS that works in Brazil? I couldn't get mine to work in Sao Paulo, I don't know if I have to download local maps or what to do...


  9. My kids have the traditional two last names and they still have short names in comparison!

  10. Maybe it's only a problem for older brains ;) Kids can learn anything, like an entire language in 6 months, fluently! A long name? A piece of cake.

    I love these types of cultural difference and tales. It makes expat life fun.

  11. We simplified life for my not-so little one, he has one first name, my last name as the middle name and ONE of my husband's last names (he has 4). But I do love a lot of the Brasilian names, one of my son's friends has the first name of Vitor Hugo, love it!

  12. @Ray: Mine is the Garmin streetpilot C580. A little bit older model than the new Nuvi's, but it works great! I have the Brazil map, purchased from Garmin. It came on an SD memory card that goes inside the GPS. Hope that helps!

  13. Thanks Chris, I will look into it ;)

  14. yikes, I have such a horrible time with saying names. Thank god thera so many silvas, oliveiras and matias. Those are easy ones...