Physical descriptions in Portuguese


It seemed so strange to me to first hear people being referred to as: the white guy, that fat girl, the tall one. Maybe we're too socially correct in the US or just more sensitive (cautious?) -- but we don't casually call people by their physical attributes, especially if it's potentially unflattering or offensive.

But in Brazil this is normal.

But it's almost never done in an offensive way because they will use the diminutive to soften the meaning like this:

O gordinho vai te ajudar. > The chubby guy will help you.
Ele é o branquinho, alí. > He's the white guy over there.

*And yes, they use negro, negra, preto, preta as well. these are not pejorative as long as the context isn't!

Here are some other examples:

Anna, a alta e loira. > Anna's the tall blonde.
Você quer dizer a morena sentada lá? > You mean the mixed-race girl over there?

* Before you email me about this realize that there are several meanings to both "morena" as well as "mulata". Traditionally mulata is African + European; morena is a "country girl" which typically means native Brazilian + European. The whole issue gets complicated and controversial rápido! I'm trying to present the most used meanings here to help you! These are all used commonly: pretinho, mulata, morena, branco, neguinha, negão, etc. They do not come with the same baggage that they would in English.

Cadê o baiano? > Where did the guy from Bahia go?
E aí gringo, tudo bem? > Hey visitor from another country how's it going?