A Cultural Sidenote (3)

We’ve been learning how to pronounce a number of names on a double-sided piece of paper. About a week after we had begun learning the names, I mentioned to someone that I realized from watching a news broadcast, that they had put the names of important people on the list of names and wondered if we should be learning who the people were. The person I was speaking with chuckled, and then informed me that the names on the list were not those of important people, but rather a list of names that the Portuguese people have to pick from. When the dictator had ruled, he had a list of approved names drawn up and everyone had to use only those names to name their children. That piece of heritage remains in place, so many people here have five names: a first name, two middle names, their mother’s surname or their maiden name, and then their father’s surname or husband’s surname. Imagine going to kindergarten and having to learn to write  Alexandre Otávio Juão  Rodrigues Cerqueira!

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