Onomastics and Translation: The Case of Igbo→English Translation of Chi Names

  • A Oluchukwu
  • SF Nzuanke
Keywords: Anthroponymia, translation, symbol, sign, culture.


The reoccurrence of chi or chukwu affixes in Igbo names has both cultural and religious undertones. Be it used as chi or chukwu, both are variations of allusions to a higher being as the Igbo race believes in a pantheon of gods that govern human existence, the highest being Chi. The thrust of this paper is to apply onomastics in the translation of chi names in Igbo. Chi names will be grouped according to the function they perform in Igbo land. Data will be collected from the names of 30 students with chi affixes in the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, Nigeria. The data will be classified in five groups according to the nature of the name and the function it is assumed to play in the life of the bearer. The qualitative research method will be used to translate, analyze and explain the data from the anthroponomical, semiotic and linguistic perspectives to show that contrary to the view held in some Western circles that names are obscure and may consist of words that can hardly be interpreted or translated, they, as symbols or signs in Igbo land (or even sub-Saharan African as a whole), are translatable since among the Niger-Congo language family, names have particular psycho-spiritual functions that are expressed through the “signs” that they represent.

Keywords: Anthroponymia, translation, symbol, sign, culture.


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eISSN: 1813-2227