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Title: José  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Database reports/Recent deaths, List of most popular given names, Joseph, José María, Unique Population Registry Code
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Gender predominantly male
Word/name Latin: Josephus, Greek: Ιωσήφ, Hebrew: יוֹסֵף
Other names
Related names Joseph, Xosé, Josefo Female forms: Josefa, Josée

José is a predominantly Spanish and Portuguese form of the given name Joseph. While spelled alike, this name is pronounced differently in each language: in Spanish and in Portuguese (or ). In French, the name José, pronounced , is an old vernacular form of Joseph, which is also in current usage as a given name. José is also commonly used as part of male name composites, such as José Manuel, José Maria or Antonio José, and also in female name composites like Maria José or Marie-José. José is also a Belgian Dutch male given name,[1] pronounced , and for which the female written form is Josée as in French. In Netherlandic Dutch however, José is a female given name, and is pronounced ; it may occur as part of name composites like Marie-José or as a female first name in its own right; it can also be short for the name Josina and even a Dutch hypocorism[2] of the name Johanna.

In England, Jose is originally a Romano-Celtic surname, and people with this family name can usually be found in, or traced to, the English county of Cornwall, where it was especially frequent during the fourteenth century; this surname is pronounced , as in the English names Joseph or Josephine.[3]

The common spelling of this proper name in different languages is a case of interlingual homography. Similar cases occur in English given names (Albert, Bertrand, Christine, Daniel, Eric, Ferdinand) that are not exclusive to the English language, and which can be found namely in French with a different pronunciation under exactly the same spelling. English speakers approximate the Spanish pronunciation as ; with a [z] rather than with an [s] sound. In Castilian Spanish, moreover, the initial J is similar to the German ch in the name Bach and Scottish Gaelic and Irish ch in loch, though Spanish j varies by dialect, and in Mexican Spanish, for example, is closer to the English.

Historically, the modern pronunciation of the name José in Spanish is the result of the phonological history of Spanish coronal fricatives since the fifteenth century, when it departed from Old Spanish. Unlike today’s pronunciation of this name, in Old Spanish the initial J was a voiced postalveolar fricative (as the sound "je" in French), and the middle s stood for a voiced apicoalveolar fricative /z̺/ (as in the Castilian pronunciation of the ('mismo). These sounds, from a total of seven sibilants that were once shared by medieval Ibero-Romance languages, were partly preserved in Catalan, Galician, and Occitan, and have survived integrally in Mirandese and in the dialects of northern Portugal.


  • Portuguese pronunciation 1
  • French vernacular form 2
  • Female form 3
  • Diminutives 4
  • People 5
    • Mononyms 5.1
    • First names 5.2
    • Middle name 5.3
    • Surname 5.4
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7

Portuguese pronunciation

People with the Portuguese given name José Portuguese pronunciation:  usually have their name pronounced by English speakers approximately as "joe say", which is frequently heard in news media. Examples of this are for instance President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso and football coach José Mourinho, whose names are commonly pronounced with some of precision by world media CNN and BBC by resorting to English sounds (i.e. "Joseph" without the "ph", often sounding like "").[4]

Historically, the conventional Portuguese spelling of the name was Joseph, just as in English, though variants like Jozeph were not uncommon.[5] Following the 1910 revolution, the Portuguese spelling was modernized. The first Reform of Portuguese orthography of 1911 elided the final mute consonants ph and th from Biblical anthroponyms and toponyms (e.g. Joseph, Nazareth) and replaced them with the diacritic on the final é, indicating the stress vowel (e.g. José, Nazaré). In Portuguese, the pronunciation of vowels varies substantially depending on the country, regional dialect or social identity of the speaker: in the case of the o ranging from /u/ to /o/; and in the case of é, from /e/ to /ɛ/.

The Portuguese phonology developed originally from thirteenth-century Galician-Portuguese, having a number of speakers worldwide that is currently larger than French, Italian and German. In Portuguese the pronunciation of the graphemes J and s is in fact phonetically the same as in French, where the name José also exists and the pronunciation is similar, aside from obvious vowel variation and language-specific intonation.

French vernacular form

The French given name José, pronounced , is an old vernacular form of the French name Joseph, and is also popular under the female form Josée. The male form is current as a given name, or as short for Joseph as is the case of French politician José Bové. The same male form is also commonly used as part of female name composites, as is the case of French athlete Marie-José Pérec. In turn, the female form Josée is only used customarily either as a female first name or as part of a female name composite, with respective examples in French film director Josée Dayan and Canadian actress Marie-Josée Croze.

Female form

Both the Spanish and Portuguese female written forms of the name are Josefa, pronounced in Spanish, and in Portuguese. The name José also occurs in female name composites (e.g. Maria José, Marie-José). Josée is a French female first name, pronounced , and may also be coupled with other names in female name composites. Similarly, in Flemish, José is a male given name, for which the female written form is Josée, with both forms being pronounced , though the spelling stems originally from neighboring French-speaking influence. In Dutch however, José is pronounced , which is a female given name in its own right, sometimes also used as short for the female name Josina. Examples of this are Olympic swimmer José Damen and pop singer José Hoebee. In Dutch, José is also a hypocoristic form of Johanna.


One of the common Spanish diminutives of the name is Pepe, which is a repetition of the last syllable of the earlier form Josep.[6] (Popular belief attributes the origin of Pepe to the abbreviation of pater putativus, P.P., recalling the role of St Joseph in predominantly Catholic Spanish-speaking countries.) In Hispanic America, the diminutives Cheché and Chepe also occur, as in Colombian soccer player José Eugenio ("Cheché") Hernández and Mexican soccer player José ("Chepe") Naranjo.

In Portuguese, the most widely used diminutive form of the name is , and less used forms include Zeca, Zezé, Zezinho, Zuca, and Juca. The augmentative of the diminutive may occur as in Zezão, as well as the diminutive of the diminutive Zequinha.



First names

Middle name


See also


  1. ^ Appendix:Flemish given names
  2. ^ Appendix:Dutch diminutives of given names
  3. ^ Pawley White, George. A Handbook of Cornish Surnames (Dyllansow Truran-Cornish Publication, 1981).
  4. ^ Sangster, Catherine (BBC Pronunciation Unit) (2006, Sept 27). How to say Barroso?. Retrieved 20 January 2013 from
  5. ^ Cf. LEÃO, Duarte Nunes de, Orthographia da lingoa portuguesa (Lisboa: por Ioão de Barreira, 1576). Cf. FEIJÓ, João de Morais Madureira, Orthographia, ou Arte de Escrever, e pronunciar com acerto a Lingua Portugueza (Lisboa Occidental: na Officina de Miguel Rodrigues, 1734).
  6. ^ Josep M. Albaigès, Josep M. Albaigès i Olivart, Diccionario de nombres de personas (Edicions Universitat Barcelona, 1993; ISBN 8447502643), p. 199.
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