Unisa Press

Names fashioned by gender

Stitched perceptions

Author: Prof Thenjiwe Meyiwa and Prof Madodo Cekiso
Published: June 09, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-77615-128-8
This book is not available in electronic format

About the book

Names are very powerful and significant, especially in the African context. Across societies, there is a universal, albeit taken-for-ranted fact that all human beings have names. Names Fashioned by Gender is a collection of essays on onomastics – a linguistics field of study focusing on the origin, form, history, and use of proper names. The study of naming potentially provides significant evidence about the role of gender in the assimilation and/or enculturation processes as personal names evoke insight into the construction of gender and personhood in African societies. The book takes an intellectual course from the idea that how names are viewed and used is heavily context-dependent and gendered. It demonstrates that personal names are narratives derived from different contexts within various cultures and circumstances subsequently imposing different identities on name bearers. Through persuasive essays, this book elucidates that naming is an activity that needs to be conducted cautiously because names tend to determine the destiny and character of an individual.

Unfortunately, names are sometimes given willy-nilly without considering the consequences of ascribing names to people. This book asserts that females continue to be named according to gender stereotypes, therefore, evidently perpetuating women oppression. Sometimes, circumstances around one’s birth may be used to name the child, including time, month, emotions, and weather among others. Music is also used to describe and denigrate the characters of women. Moreover, westernisation, colonisation, Christianity, patriarchy and African traditions influence African naming patterns. Interrogating positions and attitudes of the larger society, what transpires from the discussion about this scholarly work is that personal names form and reflect ideas held about personal identities, children’s well-being and underlying perceptions held by the public about boys versus girls and men relative to women.