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Taheya Carioca? Or Karioka, Carioka, Karioca, Karyuka, Caryoka or Karruka?



By Priscilla Adum



What is the Correct Spelling?

Is it Taheya Carioca? Or Karioka, Carioka, Karioca, Karyuka, Caryoka or Karruka? I've actually seen all these variants of her name.

The correct way to spell it is the first one, "Carioca". This is because it's not an Arabic word that can be sounded out phonetically into English or any other language. "Carioca" is actually a Brazilian word which is used to refer to anyone who is from Rio de Janeiro.

There are no words that begin with "K" in Brazilian Portugese. The letter has been banished from Brazilian orthography. In Brazil, the letter "K" is only used to write foreign words.

The word "Carioca" is a compound word that comes from the Tupi language, and most researchers believe that it means "house of the white people". However, it has long been considered a Brazilian word, so unless someone is writing in phonetic Tupi, it must be spelled with a "C".

Taheya Carioca



Egyptian Dancer, Brazilian Stage Name

So, how did an Egyptian dancer aquire a Brazilian stage name?

I've read many different versions of that story. Here are a couple of them:

  • The most common one says that she loved Brazilian rhythms so much that she incorporated them into her dance routine.
  • Some say she learned to dance samba, and this earned her the nickname Carioca.

It was actually Badia Masabni who provided the answer to this question in her 1966 televised interview. She said that Taheya's name was formerly Mohamed, but she was given the nickname "Carioca" after she learned a dance called "The Carioca". She performed it so well that club patrons would demand that she perform it by calling out, "We want Carioca!".

The Carioca dance that Badia Masabni spoke about was actually from the 1933 film Flying Down To Rio, which had become quite famous in Egypt at the time. There is no real Brazilian dance called the Carioca. So rather than doing anything authentically Brazilian, Taheya performed a fantasy dance from the film as part of her routine. 

Taheya Carioca




A million thanks to my dear friend Livia for her invaluable help with the rules of Brazilian orthography and the origins of the word "Carioca". Livia holds a Masters degree in Portugese Linguistics and is herself a Carioca.



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About the Author

Priscilla is a dancer of Lebanese heritage who enjoys researching the Golden Era of Egyptian dance. She owns a collection of more than one hundred classic black and white Egyptian films which is continually expanding.

Priscilla has also gathered a large library of dance related articles and clippings from Middle Eastern magazines and newspapers, many of which she has translated from the original Arabic to both English and Spanish.

Priscilla currently resides in Central America where she is a dance instructor. 




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