A morphological and social semiotic analysis of Bemba theonyms.

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Matukuto, Susan
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The University of Zambia
The study is embedded in onomastics, a study of proper names in all aspects from different typologies. The study aimed at establishing the morphological structure, social semiotic aspects and etymology of the Bemba Christian theonyms. Data were drawn from Kasama and Mungwi districts through semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions, a questionnaire, and document analysis. The study used descriptive research design informed by qualitative approach to data descriptive and lexical analysis of morphological structures. This was analysed using lexical morphology model by segmenting, identifying and describing morphemes that make up these theonyms. The meanings were interpreted by means of eclectic theories; the social semiotics, phenomenology and thematic analysis in order to establish their social semiotic aspects. The study established that the Bemba Christian theonyms have a noun prefix plus noun stem morphological structure. The theonyms showed a morphological patterning of the prefixes and extensions added to roots or stems with the potential to change the meanings of roots or stems to which they are attached. These theonyms are denominals, deverbals and deadjectivals. At configurational level, the theonyms exhibited short, long, phrasal (compound), sentential and proverbial structures. With regards to the processes which undergirded their formulation, the study noted affixation, compounding, reduplication, conversion, coinage or neologism, borrowing and clipping. Bemba Christian Theonyms are meaningful, as they try to express adoration and praise of the mighty and great powers of God who is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. It was established through interviews that due to God’s social interest in the interests of mankind, he has been given different names. Some names which were previously used before the coming of Christianity to praise their natural environment, phenomena, some extra ordinary chiefs and people have been adopted and transposed as praise names for God. Some Bemba Christian theonyms have been borrowed from other languages and others from the Bible. Etymologically, Bemba Christian Theonyms are derived from verbs and nouns motivated by social semiotic (social interest and religious beliefs) based on humankind, natural environment and phenomena. This study has added some body of knowledge of morphological structure, social semiotic and etymology of proper names as some of the ways of studying onomastics.
Thesis of Master of Arts in Linguistic Science.