Vol. 69 No. 2 (2021)

Names and Naming Practices of the Telugu in Malaysia

Thilagavathi Shanmuganathan
University of Malaya
Malarvizhi Sinayah
Universiti Malaya
Selvajothi Ramalingam
Universiti Malaya
Thanalachime Perumal
Universiti Malaya
Cover of Names Volume 69 Number 2 May 2021

Published 2021-05-14


  • identity,
  • Malaysia,
  • morphology,
  • naming ceremony,
  • patronymy,
  • anthroponymy,
  • Telugu
  • ...More


Names and naming practices reflect the socio-cultural background of a community. The giving of names is therefore not merely an act of labelling but represents constructs of identity that reflect the collective self-representation of a community and its worldviews. This study examines the naming practices of the Telugu in Malaysia and investigates the morphological structure and the semantic properties of Telugu names. To accomplish those research goals, survey interviews were conducted with 288 respondents in four different Malaysian states. Using descriptive statistics, a narrative analysis of the survey responses was used. Six experts in the Telugu culture were then invited for a focus group discussion. Before the results of this analysis are presented, detailed information about the Telugu and their naming traditions are provided. As will be shown here, among the Telugu, name-giving is a sacred act that is performed during a traditional naming ceremony called the Barasala. During this ancient oral onomastic tradition, names are passed on from one generation to the next and ancestral blessings are bestowed. As this study reveals, the structure of the patronymic names given during this ceremony reflect the religious beliefs and cultural identity of the Telugu.



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