2018, Volume 15, Issue 1

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Gbenga Fakuade
Azibaoguanasi Williams
Ikechukwu Nnaji
Theresa Odeigah

University of Ilorin
Ilorin, Nigeria

A Shift in Batonu Personal Naming Practices

Voprosy onomastiki, 2018, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp. 134–154 (in English)
DOI: 10.15826/vopr_onom.2018.15.1.006

Received 8 November 2018

Abstract: The contact of the Batonu people with Arab traders and Islamic missionaries back in the 16th century resulted in the Batonu people’s embrace of Islam which has brought profound effects on most of the traditional practices of the Batonu people. Before the Batonu people converted to Islam, every Batonu child had been given a Batonu name at birth based on order of birth, gentility, circumstance of birth, parents’ occupation, natural phenomena, etc. Such child was expected to be known and addressed by that name both within and outside the community. Today, this custom seems endangered as most Batonu people now bear Muslim names given to them at birth. Thus, this paper examines the shift in the personal naming practices of the Batonu people of Nigeria. The study identifi es religious inclination, the rigid personal naming practices of the people, tendency to mask identity and political/socio-economic drives as remote causes of the shift. This shift has led to a drastic decline of traditional Batonu personal names, reflecting the cultural uprooting and the loss of indigenous vocabulary. Recognizing that restoration of traditional Batonu personal naming practices would be almost impossible, the authors propose two onomastic cultural reclamation strategies: the “weak-open reversal” and the “reversal by syncretism” — to provide for appreciable revival and sustenance of these.

Keywords: Batonu (Bariba, Baatonum) language, Niger-Congo languages, personal naming practices, anthroponomy, Muslim personal names, socio-onomastics


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