Names across languages and cultures


Marcia Sipavicius Seide

Professor of Portuguese Language and Linguistics, Linguist

Aug. 31, 2022, 11:15 a.m.


Peter is a biblical name that has equivalents in other languages: Pedro in Portuguese and Spanish languages and Petras in Lithuanian language. Biblical names are very international due to Christianization of Western world and westernized societies. Studies comparing first names used in Brazil, Spain and Lithuania show that most of names that are equally in use nowadays in those countries are Christian or Biblical names. These studies are part of an interesting subfield of Onomastics called Comparative Anthroponomastics (Seide 2021).

It was made a comparison between the top 17 masculine first name in Brazil in the period of 1990-1999 and the top 17 Lithuanian masculine first name in the period of 2006-2017.While Brazilian data came from Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE) – Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, Lithuanian data came from Valstybinė lietuvių kalbos komisija (VLKK) – State Commission of the Lithuanian Language. Four common first names in both languages are of Biblical origin: Lucas (BR) – Lukas (LT); Mateus (BR) – Matas (LT); Daniel (BR) – Danielius (LT) and Gabriel (BR) - Gabrielius (Seide, M.S, & Petrulione, L. 2018 ).

Another comparison of popular masculine first names was made. This other research compared names used in Brazil with those used in Spain. Brazilian data was from IBGE and Spanish data from Instituto Nacional de Estadística de España (INE) - National Statistical Institute of Spain. The top 20 names by decade covering the period of 1930 – 2009 in each country were summed up resulting in a list of 180 masculine names of each country being 53 different names in Spain and 77 different names in Brazil. Among the different names, 23 were names totally convergent, that is shared and equally used in the given temporal period. Some examples of those name are André (BR) – Andrés (SP); Antônio (BR) – Antonio (SP) and João (BR) – Juan (SP). The below mentioned names are the same in Portuguese and Spanish language. That indicates that they are homonyms and judging just by the written form is not possible to know what language they are from: Carlos, Daniel, Diego, Fernando, Francisco, Jorge, José, Marcos, Miguel, Pedro, Rafael and Vicente (Fernández-Funcal, C.& Seide M.S, 2021).

It is not a surprise that there are more convergences between Spain and Brazil compared to Lithuanian-Brazil. Portuguese and Spanish languages are much closer and there is much more in common in terms of History and culture.


Fernández-Funcal, C.& Seide M.S (2021). Convergencia y divergência de los repertorios brasileño y español

Seide, M.S & Petrulione L. (2018). Between Languages and Cultures: An Exploratory Comparative Study of Usage of Lithuanian and Brazilian Masculine Anthroponyms

Seide, M.S. (2021). Comparative Anthroponomastics[ES3] . GTLex | Uberlândia.