Original Articles

Xhosa nicknames

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 14, issue 2, 1994 , pages: 88–92
DOI: 10.1080/02572117.1994.10587036
Author(s): S.J. NeethlingDepartment of Xhosa, Republic of South Africa


In this article nicknames (call names) or iziteketiso as they are known in Xhosa are investigated. As in most societies, one finds various categories of nicknames. The category dealt with here, will be those iziteketiso derived from the original (full) first names. They invariably take on a shortened form. An attempt is made to categorize the data morphologically. At least five distinct categories present themselves, each exemplifying a specific morphological derivation. It seems clear that Xhosa speakers are innovative and creative in shaping their iziteketiso. Deviation from the phonological system of Xhosa is apparent, mainly because of influence from the surrounding Afrikaans and English linguistic environment. It is also clear that the iziteketiso lose their semantic transparency and very often the naming conventions do not apply. The emotive content of these names is also touched upon briefly. From the responses of informers it appears obvious that these nicknames (or call names) act as terms of endearment in intimate social circles.

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