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Carioca (Portuguese pronunciation: [kaɾiˈɔkɐ] or [kɐɾiˈɔkɐ]) is a demonym used to refer to anything related to the City of Rio de Janeiro as well as its eponymous State of Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil. The original word, "kara'i oka", comes from the indigenous Tupi language meaning "house of carijó", which was a native tribe of Rio de Janeiro who lived in the vicinity of the Carioca River, between the neighborhoods of Glória and Flamengo.

Like other Brazilians, cariocas speak Portuguese. The carioca accent and sociolect (also simply called "carioca", see below) are the most widely recognized in Brazil, in part because Rede Globo, the second-largest television network in the world, is headquartered in Rio de Janeiro. Thus, a lot of Brazilian TV programs, from news and documentary to entertainment (such as the novelas), feature carioca-acting and -speaking talent.


Sociopolitical History of the TermEdit

The archaic demonym meaning for the Rio de Janeiro State is "fluminense", taken from the Latin word flumen, meaning "river." Despite the fact "carioca" is a most ancient demonym of Rio de Janeiro's inhabitants (known since 1502), it was replaced by "fluminense" in 1783, when it was sanctioned as the official demonym of the Real Captainship of Rio de Janeiro (later Province of Rio de Janeiro). A few years after the City of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro had become the capital city of the Brazilian colonies. From 1783 and during all the Imperial Regime, "carioca" remained only as a nickname by which other Brazilians called the inhabitants of Rio (city and province). During the first years of the Brazilian Republic, "carioca" was the name given to those who lived in the slums or a pejorative way to refer the bureaucratic elite of the Federal District. Only when the City of Rio lost its status as Federal District and became a Brazilian State (Guanabara State) when the capital city was moved to Brasilia, "carioca" was made a co-official demonym with "guanabarino". In 1975, the Guanabara State was eliminated by President Geisel (under the military dictatorship) becoming the present City of Rio de Janeiro and "carioca" was made the demonym of its municipality. Besides the fact "carioca" is not recognized as an official demonym of Rio de Janeiro State, Brazilians call the inhabitants of Rio de Janeiro in general (State and city) "cariocas" and most of its inhabitants claim to be "cariocas". Nowadays, social movements like "Somos Todos Cariocas" ("We are all Cariocas") try to achieve the official recognition of "carioca" as a co-official demonym of Rio de Janeiro State.

Accomplishments and influenceEdit

Carioca people have invented a few sports; the most famous is footvolley.

Cariocas are credited with creating the bossa nova dance.

Famous cariocas in film include Brazilian "bombshell" Carmen Miranda, a Portuguese woman who grew up in Rio de Janeiro. An eponymous song from 1933, Carioca, has become a jazz standard.

Carnaval Carioca is the Portuguese name for the largest Brazilian Carnival, the Rio Carnival.[1]

Samba Carioca is a localized style of Brazilian Samba.

There is an exercise drill used for dynamic stretching called Carioca. It consists of a repeating Samba dance step.[2][3]


The Portuguese spoken across the states of Rio de Janeiro and Espírito Santo and neighboring towns in Minas Gerais and in the city of Florianópolis, has similar features, hardly different from one another so cities such as Paraty, Resende, Campos dos Goytacazes, Cachoeiro de Itapemirim, Vila Velha and Linhares may be said to have the same dialect as Rio de Janeiro, as they are hardly perceived as strong regional variants by people from other parts of Brazil.

The Brazilian Portuguese variant spoken in the city of Rio de Janeiro (and metropolitan area) is called carioca, and it is called sotaque locally, literally translated as "accent". It can be said that Rio de Janeiro presents a sociolect inside the major fluminense-capixaba dialect, as speakers inside the city may be easily recognizable more by their slang than the way the phonology of their speech, which is closer to the standard Brazilian Portuguese in the media than other variants. It is known especially for several distinctive traits new to either variant (European or Brazilian) of the Portuguese language:

  1. (for Brazilians) Coda /s/ and /z/ can be pronounced as palato-alveolar [ʃ] and [ʒ] of English or the alveolo-palatal [ɕ] and [ʑ] of Catalan. That is inherited from European Portuguese, and carioca shares it only with Florianopolitano and some other Fluminense accents. In the northern tones of Brazilian Portuguese, not all coda /s/ and /z/ become postalveolar.
  2. (for Europeans) /ʁ/, as well what would be coda /ɾ/ (when it would is not pre-vocalic) in European Portuguese, may be realized as various voiceless and voiced guttural-like sounds, most often the latter (unlike in other parts of Brazil), and many or most of them can be part of the phonetic repertory of a single speaker. Among them the velar and uvular fricative pairs, as well both glottal transitions (voiced & unvoiced), the voiceless pharyngeal fricative and the uvular trill: [x], [ɣ] (between vowels), [χ], [ʁ], [h], [ɦ], [ħ] and [ʀ].[4][5] That diversity of allophones of a single rhotic phoneme is rare not just in Brazilian Portuguese but also among most world languages.
  1. (for both) Originally probably from Tupi influence,[6] through the Portuguese post-creole that appeared in southeastern Brazil after the ban of Língua Geral Paulista as a marker of Jesuit activity by the Marquis of Pombal (the Northeast had Nheengatu, another língua geral, too, but it had a greater native Portuguese-speaker presence, had a greater contact with the colonial metropolis and was more densely populated), the consonants /t/ and /d/ before /i/ or final unstressed /ɛ ~ e/ ([], that in this position may be raised to [i] or deleted) become affricates [ ~ ] and [ ~ ] (again, as those of English or Catalan, depending on the speaker), respectively. That is now common place in Brazilian Portuguese, as it spread with the bandeiras paulistas, expansion of mineiros to the Center-West and mass media. It is not as universal in São Paulo, Espírito Santo and southern Brazil even though they were populated mostly by the original bandeirantes (caboclos, formerly língua geral speakers) because the European immigrants learning Portuguese and their descendants preferred more conservative registers of the language, perhaps as a mark of a separate social identity.
  2. (for both) Historical [ɫ] (/l/ in syllable coda), which merged with coda /ɾ/ ([ɻ]) in Caipira, has undergone labialization to [lʷ], and then vocalized to [];[7] Nevertheless, with the exception of [ʊ̯] be the one used in Southern Brazil and São Paulo instead of [u̯], both commonly transcribed as [w]; the process is now nearly ubiquitous in Brazilian Portuguese so only some areas retain velarized lateral alveolar approximant (rural areas close to the frontier with Uruguay) or the retroflex approximant (a very few caipira areas) as coda /l/.

The traits (particularly the chiado, a palatalization process that creates a postalveolar pronunciation of coda s and z and affricate pronunciation of [ti] and [di] and te and de rhymes), as a whole and consistent among the vast majority of speakers, were once specifically characteristic of Rio de Janeiro speech and distinguished particularly from the pronunciation of São Paulo and areas further south, which formerly had adapted none of the characteristics. The chiado of the coda sibilant is thought to date from the early 1800s occupation of the city by the Portuguese royal family, as European Portuguese had a similar characteristic for the postalveolar codas.

More recently, however, all of the traits have spread throughout much of the country by the cultural influence of the city that diminished the social marker character the lack of palatalization once had (apart of assimilation of the caboclo minorities in most of South and Southeast Brazil). Affrication is today widespread, if not nearly omnipresent among young Brazilians, and coda guttural r is also found nationwide (their presence in Brazil is a general heritage of Tupi speech too) but less among speakers in the 5 southernmost states other than Rio de Janeiro, and if accent is a good social indicator, 95-105 million Brazilians consistently palatalize coda sibilant in some instances (but as in Rio de Janeiro, it is only a marker of adoption of foreign phonology at large in Florianópolis and Belém: palatalization, as in any other Romance language, is a very old process in Portuguese and its lacking in some dialect rather than reflecting a specific set of Galician, Spanish and indigenous influences on their formation).

Another common characteristic of carioca speech is, in a stressed final syllable, the addition of /j/ before coda /s/ (mas, dez may become [majʃ], [dɛjʃ], which can also be noted ambiguously as [mɐ̞ⁱʃ], [dɛⁱʃ]). The change may have originated in the Northeast, where pronunciations such as Jesus [ʒeˈzujs] have long been heard. Also immigration from Northeastern Brazil and Spanish immigration causes debuccalization of the coda sibilant: mesmo [meɦmu]. Many Brazilians assume that is specific to Rio, but in the Northeast, debuccalization has long been a strong and advanced phonological process that may also affect onset sibilants /s/ and /z/ as well as other consonants, primarily [v].

There are some grammatical characteristics of this sociolect as well, an important one is the mixing of second person pronouns você and tu, even in the same speech. For instance, while normative Portuguese requires lhe as the oblique for você and te as oblique for tu, in carioca slang, the once formal você (now widespread as an informal pronoun in many Brazilian Portuguese varieties) is used for all cases. In informal speech, the pronoun tu is retained.but with the verb forms belonging to the form você: Tu foi na festa? ("Did you go to the party?"). So the verbal forms are the same for both você and tu.

Many cariocas and many paulistas (from the coast, capital city or hinterland) shorten você and use instead: Cê vai pra casa agora? ("Are you going home now?"). That, however, is common only on the spoken language and is rarely written.

Slang words among youngsters from Rio de Janeiro include caraca! (gosh!) [now spread throughout Brazil], e aê? and qualé/quaé/coé? (literally "which is [it]", carrying a meaning similar to "What's up?"), and maneiro ("cool", "fine", "interesting", "amusing") and sinistro (in standard Portuguese, "sinister"; in slang, "awesome," "terrific," but also "terrible," "troublesome," "frightening," "weird"). Many of these slang words can be found in practically all of Brazil by to cultural influence from the city. Much slang from Rio de Janeiro spreads across Brazil and may be not known as originally from there, and those less culturally accepted elsewhere are sometimes used to shun not only the speech of a certain subculture, age group or social class but also the whole accent.


  1. ^ Rio Times Online Retrieved 28 June 2017.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ Body Building Retrieved 28 June 2017.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ "Healthy Living - Carioca Exercises". AZ Central. Retrieved 28 June 2017. 
  4. ^ Barbosa, Plínio A. (2004), "Brazilian Portuguese", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 34 (2): 227–232
  5. ^
  6. ^ (in Portuguese) Dialects of Brazil: the palatalization of the phonemes /t/ and /d/. Aside of using the term "alveopalatal" thoroughly, p. 27 sets it clear that Brazilian alveolo-palatal affricates are similar to but different from Italian palato-alveolar ones.
  7. ^ Bisol (2005), p. 211