Anthroponymy in Eastern Nilotic: A case of Turkana personal names

Main Article Content

Susan Kinyua
David Barasa


This paper is about personal names given to Turkana children at birth, during the rite of passage to adulthood and throughout one’s life. Following the lexical pragmatic theory according to Wilson (2003) and Carston (2002), the paper establishes the morpho-syntactic features of the Turkana names, that is, the inflectional and derivational features. It also presents the semantics and pragmatics of selected personal and nicknames and concludes that all Turkana names are meaningful, and context plays a major role in identifying their correct interpretation. Socio-cultural factors govern the pragmatic meaning of the names and how they convey messages. Thus, approximation, narrowing, and metaphorical extension are some of the processes that bring out the meaning of names - drawn from the context surrounding the birth.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Kinyua, S., & Barasa, D. (2022). Anthroponymy in Eastern Nilotic: A case of Turkana personal names. Research Journal in Advanced Humanities, 3(2).

How to Cite

Kinyua, S., & Barasa, D. (2022). Anthroponymy in Eastern Nilotic: A case of Turkana personal names. Research Journal in Advanced Humanities, 3(2).


Barasa, D. (2015) The Inflectional Forms of Tense and Aspect in Ateso. The University of Nairobi Journal of Language and Linguistics, 4: 82-102.

Barasa, D. (2017). Ateso Grammar: A descriptive Account of an Eastern Nilotic Language. Munchen: Lincom GmbH.

Batoma, A. (2006). African Ethnonyms and Toponyms: An Annotated Bibliography. Electronic Journal of Africana Bibliography. 10(1),1.

Batoma, A. (2009). Onomastics and indirect communication among the Kabre of Nothern Togo. Nordic Journal African Studies 18(3), 215-234.

Barret, A. (1988). English-Turkana Dictionary. Macmillan Publishers: Kenya.

Brennen, T. (2000). On the Meaning of personal names: A view from cognitive psychology. Names, 48(2), 139-146.

Carston, R. 2002. Thoughts and Utterances: The Pragmatics of Explicit Communication. Oxford: Blackwell.

De Klerk, V., & Bosch, B. (1997) Nicknames of English Adolescents in South Africa. Names, 45(2), 101-118.

Dimmendaal, G. J. (1983). The Turkana Language. Foris Publications. Dordrecht.

Dimmendaal G J, (2000). Number marking and Noun categorization in Nilo-Saharan Languages. Anthropological Linguistics, 42, 214-216.

Gulliver, P. (1985). A preliminary Survey of The Turkana people. The Journal of African History 1(1) 26-7.

Ifemesia, C. (1996). Turkana. New York Rosen Publishing.

Leech, G. (1981). Semantics. Harmondworth: Penguin.

Makondo, L. (2009). An Investigation into Anthroponyms of Shona Society, PhD Thesis, University of South Africa.

Mill, J. S. (1964), A system of logic, ratiocinative and inductive, being a connected view of the principles of evidence and the methods of scientific investigation. New York: Harper & Brothers.

Mphande, L. (2006). Naming and linguistic Africanisms in African American culture. In Selected proceedings of the 35th annual conference on African linguistics (pp. 104-113). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla proceedings Project.

Mwangi, P.K. (2015). What’s in a name? An Exposition of Gikuyu Grammar: through Personal Names. International Journal and Social Sciences, 5(9), 259-267.

Neethling B. (2005), Naming among the Xhosa of South Africa: Studies in Onomastics. New York: The Edwin Mellen Press.

Ng’asike, J. T. (2020). Indigenous Knowledge practices for Sustainable Lifelong Education in Pastoralist Communities of Kenya. International Review of Education. (65),19-46.

Republic of Kenya. (2009). Kenya 2009 population and housing census highlights. Nairobi: Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

Schroeder, H. (2008). Word Order in Toposa: An Aspect of Multiple Feature-checking. Arlington: SIL International.

Trask, K. L. (1994). Language change. London: Routledge.

Wilson, D. (2003) Relevance and Lexical Pragmatics. Italian Journal of Linguistics (15), 273-292.