Indigenous Place Name: A Literary Toponomastics Study of Suburbs of Cape Coast

Authors: Emmanuel Mensah Bonsu, Samuel Kwesi Nkansah (University of Cape Coast, Ghana)
Speaker: Samuel Kwesi Nkansah
Topic: Language, Community, Ethnicity
The (SCOPUS / ISI) GLOCAL AFALA 2023 General Session


Cape Coast is a Ghanaian city very well known for its dominant role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade in Gold Coast and Africa. The growth of the city witnessed the influx of merchants and freed slaves who settled within the Cape Coast environs and carved names for their settlements that reflected their identities and activities. There are relatively no studies that have explored the literary significance of the indigenous place names and how they interlace with the language and identity of the communities. Against this backdrop, this study sets out to conduct a literary toponomastic analysis of the indigenous names of suburbs of Cape Coast. Through place semiotics (Scollon & Scollon, 2003) and African onomastics (Batoma, 2006) theories, facilitated by qualitative content analysis of the names and interviews, the study reveals the circumstances that led to the adoption of the names. The study unearths the personal, historical, cultural and literary factors that are culminated in the names and their sociolinguistic significance. The global effect of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and colonialism makes this study a viable one for scholarly attention. The study has implications for language and identity, community experiences and aspirations, and further studies in other indigenous African societies.

Batoma, A. (2006). African ethnonyms and toponyms: An annotated bibliography. Electronic Journal of Africana Bibliography, 10, 1-40.
Scollon, R., & Scollon, S. W. (2003). Discourses in place: Language in the material world. Routledge.

Keywords: African societies, identity, indigenous names, sociolinguistics, toponomastics