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Question #91147 posted on 04/10/2018 1:25 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I watch soccer pretty frequently, and lately I was wondering why Brazilian soccer players never seem to go by anything other than their nicknames? The brazilians I know have lots of names, but I think almost every player on the brazil national team goes by some kind of nickname, which just doesn't make sense to me, because in every other national soccer team, and most other sports, athletes are incredibly willing to make me learn their long names, is there a reason for this?

-The Old Bookshop


Dear Ye Old Bookshoppe,

I knew that there were a few like Hulk, but after taking a look at the roster I was shocked at how many people go by just their nicknames. While Brazilians do have lots of names, most people just go by their first names. The Brazilians I know said that their teachers always went by their first names, as did people in their ward, and pretty much everyone except in the most formal settings. My guess is that the athletes are just following with that cultural norm. Plus, it sounds really cool. Hope this helps.



posted on 04/11/2018 9:44 p.m.
What counts as a nickname? Hulk (Givanildo Vieira de Sousa) is the only player that goes by a name that is clearly not his given name. If Bill counts as a "nickname" then there are a few more players that use common shortened or diminutive versions of their first or middle names: Marquinhos (Marcos), Fernandinho (Fernando), Paulinho (Paulo), Dani (Daniel) Alves, Gil (Carlos Gilberto).

But generally I don't look at a group of people called Will, Tom, Sue, Mike and Abbie and think, "Wow, nicknames everywhere!"

Even still, most of the Brazilian soccer players use their real first, first and middle, or first and last names.

First names only: Alisson, Jefferson, Fagner, Marcelo, Elias, Giuliano, Oscar, Taison, Willian, Jonas, Luan, Neymar

First and middle: Filipe Luis, David Luis, Rodrigo Caio, Renato Augusto, Philippe Coutinho

Middle name only: Miranda (João Miranda), R (Roberto) Firmino

First and last: Ederson Moraes, Thiago Silva, Douglas Costa (de Souza), Lucas Lima, Luiz Gustavo (Dias), Diego Costa, Diego Souza, Gabriel Jesus, Ricardo Oliveira

Full name: Alex Sandro Lobo Silva

Last name only: Casemiro (Carlos Henrique Casimiro)

Brazilians use first names a lot because everyone has the same last name. Ok, not everyone, but to a much greater degree than most other places, it's true. More than 10% of Brazilians have the last name of Silva. Add in Santos and Sousa and you're up to 22%. For comparison, the most common last name in the US is Smith, which clocks in at 0.88%. To get a similar effect in the US, you'd have to take the top 33 most common last names and change ALL of them to Smith to get up to 10.4%. In Brazil they use first names so we're not all so confused who you're talking to.

-I lived there once

sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_common_surnames_in_South_America#Brazil