A comparative study of linguistic and social aspects of personal names in Botswana and Scotland

Ramaeba, Goabilwe Nnanishie (2019) A comparative study of linguistic and social aspects of personal names in Botswana and Scotland. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b3369386


A personal name is an individual’s badge of identity in all cultures of the world although the qualities and concepts of the name will vary. This cross-cultural study of names and naming practices in two very different societies aims to reveal the overall profiles of names in each society.
The study investigates personal naming in Botswana and Scotland at two levels, first the linguistic level which deals with the grammar and semantics of individual names to reveal the overall profile of a personal name in both countries in terms of meaning and grammar. Furthermore, the study compares names it terms ‘Unusual’ in both countries to highlight their meanings and grammar, and attitudes towards them. A name does not exist in isolation, it is a reflection of the society within which it exists; so second the study explores the social aspects of the names to determine how the cultures and traditions of the two societies influence their naming practices. Although the general conclusions from previous studies have been that African names have a meaning and European names do not, none of the studies have been specific to names in Botswana and Scotland, hence the need for this study. Furthermore, the study is interested in the variation between names in each country, particularly in terms of meaning and structure. It also explores the motivations behind name-giving, and aims to establish how these differ or correspond in the two societies. It also investigates Unusual names, to reveal their meaning, grammar and motivations. To achieve these comparisons, the study uses a socio-onomastic approach.
The data for this study was collected through an open-ended questionnaire and also from existing records. In Scotland the questionnaire was administered in Glasgow, and in Botswana it was administered in Mahalapye and Molepolole. Part of the data in Scotland was drawn from the National Records of Scotland. The study identifies the overall profiles of the names in terms of their semantics and grammar through a quantitative analysis of the data. A qualitative analysis reveals the respondents’ knowledge of the meanings of the names, the motivating factors behind the names and other aspects that people consider critical in the choice of a name.
As anticipated, personal names in the two countries are shown to be at opposite ends of the spectrum. In Scotland they are largely lexically non-transparent, while in Botswana they are largely lexically transparent. However, this study has revealed a much more nuanced situation than was previously recognised. It has also produced a much needed corpus of semantically and grammatically analysed Botswana names together with their motivations. In Scotland the study has highlighted the extent of awareness of name meanings and the motivations behind their bestowal. These findings are a significant contribution in the Botswana and Scottish onomastic landscape as they reveal new perspectives in relation to name studies in the two countries.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Personal names, socio-onomastics, prototype theory, Botswana, Setswana, Scotland, semantic categories, grammatical categories.
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PL Languages and literatures of Eastern Asia, Africa, Oceania
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > English Language and Linguistics
Supervisor's Name: Hough, Professor Carole
Date of Award: 2019
Unique ID: glathesis:2019-74387
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 06 Nov 2019 17:09
Last Modified: 03 Aug 2022 16:23
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.74387
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/74387

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