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Document Details :
Title: Anthroponymy and Cultural Change in Southern Africa
Author(s): HERBERT, Robert K.
Volume: 34 Date: 1998-1999
The relationship between personal names and sociocultural processes is explored in this paper. Drawing on the traditional distinction between the categorising and differentiating functions of personal names, the paper exemplifies both types of naming systems in southern Africa. The more common pattern within traditional societies has been for unique naming, i.e. there is almost no incidence of two individuals bearing the same given name in older descriptions. After a sketch of the traditional patterns, the paper considers the question of change within African naming systems, especially with regard to social and cultural changes. Three major changes are exemplified: the introduction of European language names, the development of a repertoire of fashionable names in urban families, and the response of the naming system to political developments in the early 1990s in South Africa.