Vol. 45 No. 1 (1997)
Research Article

The Politics of Personal Naming in South Africa

Published 1997-03-01



The relationship between naming and sociocultural meaning among the peoples of southern Africa is changing. A comparison of names bestowed in two time periods shows how patterns of naming reflect sociocultural changes, including the demands of a centralized bureaucracy and the urbanization of populations. The ways in which systems of naming responded to recent political events in South Africa is examined. In line with the traditional history-keeping function of personal names, there is a greater incidence of political names for children, especially boys, born after 1990.


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