Article

Some historical event-marking names in Tshivenḓa

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 38, issue 1, 2018, pages: 87–97
DOI: 10.1080/02572117.2018.1429872
Author(s): TM SenganiDepartment of African Languages, South Africa

Abstract

There are a number of names in Tshivenḓa whose meanings sound not only odd, but also far-fetched as they refer to death, and unusual and sorrowful events. Some of these names are shunned by their carriers and tend to be replaced with others from the same language, or European ones. These names are carried by very few individuals and surprisingly these days they are given to children as commemorative names or are shortened to appear modern and to sound vibrant. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate through Critical Language Awareness, Onomastics and Ethnography of communication that Africans in general, and the Vhavenḓa in particular, have a way of using names to record history in families and their events, just like we find in history. It uses the Discourse Historical Method to trace the names through interviews with both name-carriers and name-givers in families and communities. It eventually applies Ethnography of Communication to show why and how the Vhavenḓa resort to creating such names to record historical family and community events.

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