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A Semantic and Pragmatic Analyses of Igbo Names

VC Onumajuru


The paper investigated the semantic and pragmatic contents of personal names and naming in the Igbo language and culture. The objective of the paper was to examine the structure of Igbo names and analyse their semantic and pragmatic contents. The data were sourced from Igbo language speakers in the South Eastern States of Nigeria. The data cut across Standard and dialectal Igbo names. Selected personal names were grouped structurally according to their forms in the following order: lexical (or mono-morphemic) names, Noun-Noun phrasal names, Noun-Verb phrasal names, Noun-Verb Phrasal-Complement/Sentential names and Interrogation/Injunction names. The semantic and pragmatic analyses were made based on the structural data generated. The pragmatic analysis was handled by incorporating the context into the semantic contents. Findings showed that Igbo names structurally fall into three broad categories: lexical, phrasal and sentential. For Ndigbo, a name is not just a tag of identity or personal label but a story and an expression of the events and circumstances surrounding the birth of the child as well as the parents’ life experiences and world view.

Keywords: personal names, Igbo, semantic content, pragmatic content, structure

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2070-0083
print ISSN: 1994-9057