How many times have we heard or read about Brazil as “the carioca country” or a Brazilian referred to as a carioca when he may perfectly be from Sao Paulo? We would need plenty of hands with their fingers to count them. Let’s set the record straight once and for all: Carioca means a natural of Rio de Janeiro and should be used only for those born in that city, the capital of the namesake state. Those born in Rio de Janeiro state are called fluminenses, just the way paulistas are those born in the state of Sao Paulo and bahianos are the naturals of Salvador da Bahia.
Referring to Brazil as the carioca country, writing that in a journal, on an internet site, blog, twitter, swaying it on a TV channel, radio station or whatever is the same as saying “Spain, the country of the gallegos” (many Latin Americans do this) or “USA, the yankee country”. Imagine someone referring to the US national team as Team Texas (or Nebraska, California, New York…) and it becoming generally accepted. Well, using carioca to refer to Brazilians in general is the same type of mistake.
Where does this name come from? Carioca is the name given by the Indians to a little brook in Rio de Janeiro, which was channelled years ago and flows through the pipes into Guanabara Bay, washing the city shores. The word is made up by the Tupi-Guarani terms kari (white man) and oca (home); in other words, Carioca originally means ‘home of the white man’.
Every day is a chance to learn something new!
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