A socio-semantic analysis of selected Tumbuka anthroponyms.

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Musonda, Chola
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University of Zambia
This study was an attempt to investigate the meanings and sociocultural implications of selected Tumbuka anthroponyms. It sought to identify and analyse meanings of selected Tumbuka personal names; establish the kind of naming system that the Tumbuka of Lundazi district have in place; and to find out the sociocultural implications of the names and naming patterns and/or strategies that are used among the people in the study area. The study was purely qualitative. Through the use of semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions, interaction with the study population and introspection, the researcher was able to gather primary data. On a large scale, purposive sampling was the employed technique, supplemented by simple random sampling to select participants. Secondary data was obtained from existing Tumbuka literature including school and village registers. Using the unified theory of names, the generated data was analysed and thereafter names grouped according to themes. Findings showed that, among the Tumbuka people, the first name is bestowed on a child after detachment of its umbilical cord. Traditionally, the grandfather and great grandfather to the new-born child are the sole name-givers. However, there are circumstances under which another person might be requested to name a child. The bestowal of first names arises from different factors including events or circumstances surrounding a child‟s birth such as: a child‟s place, period, order and manner of birth; death; fertility; religion; marital disputes and physical appearance of the newborn among others. In addition to this, names are sometimes given to children to honour dead relations. Unlike first names, most of the Tumbuka surnames began as nicknames. Later, such names became permanent surnames and/or clan names. In relation to the findings, it was deduced that personal names in Tumbuka-prone speech communities go beyond being mere personal labels. They are expressions and stories that mark the various social and psychological milestones and circumstances that surrounded the birth of the child to be named as well as the family and community into which the child is born. This in turn makes personal names an integral meaningful part of the Tumbuka cultural heritage. Key words: anthroponyms; sociocultural; bestowal; implications; naming system.
Tumbuka language. , Names, Personal--Tumbuka Zambia. , Names, personal--Tumbuka (African people)--Zambia.