Anthroponymy in Eastern Nilotic: A Case of Turkana Personal Names

Authors: David Barasa (Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Kenya), Susan Wanjiku Kinyua (University of Nairobi, Kenya)
Speaker: Susan Wanjiku Kinyua
Topic: Applied Sociolinguistics
The (SCOPUS / ISI) GLOCAL AFALA 2023 General Session


This chapter is about personal names given to Turkana children at birth, during the rite of passage to adulthood and throughout one’s life. Following the lexical pragmatic theory according to Wilson (2003) and Carston (2002), the chapter establishes the morpho-syntactic features of the Turkana names, that is, the inflectional and derivational features. It also presents the semantics and pragmatics of selected personal and nicknames, and concludes that all Turkana names are meaningful, and context plays a major role in identifying their correct interpretation. The social-cultural factors govern the pragmatic meaning of the names and how they convey messages. Thus, approximation, narrowing and metaphorical extension are some of the processes that bring out the meaning of names – that are not taken in totality but drawn from context surrounding the birth.

Keywords: Turkana, Eastern Nilotic, Anthroponymy, Gender markers, Nicknames