Original Research

Nicknames among Swati clans: A socio-cultural analysis

Muzi Matfunjwa, Respect Mlambo, Nomsa Skosana
Literator | Vol 45, No 1 | a2020 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v45i1.2020 | © 2024 Muzi Matfunjwa, Respect Mlambo, Nomsa Skosana | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 August 2023 | Published: 29 February 2024

About the author(s)

Muzi Matfunjwa, South African Centre for Digital Language Resources, Humanities Faculty, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Respect Mlambo, South African Centre for Digital Language Resources, Humanities Faculty, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Nomsa Skosana, South African Centre for Digital Language Resources, Humanities Faculty, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa

Abstract

Nicknames are common in African societies. In Swati families, the use of nicknames is widespread and almost every member of a family possesses one. The nicknames are given to people in addition to their personal names from a young age until adulthood. This paper aims to explore nicknames bestowed on people within Swati families. This study is qualitative and adopts a socio-onomastic approach. The researchers used participant observation to collect data to gain insight into how nicknames are bestowed on family members and to establish their meanings. A total of 51 nicknames were collected and analysed. It was established that nicknames are given based on the socio-cultural traits of the family and society. It was also ascertained that nicknames are derived from an individual’s character, physical appearance, prominent people’s names, remarkable events, and short forms of personal names. Some nicknames are meaningful while others are meaningless. They are used as informal identities within the family setting and in the community.

Contribution: This study contributes to the body of knowledge in Siswati onomastics, specifically Swati nicknames. It reveals how nicknames are formed and bestowed on nickname bearers within clan or family settings. The study also reveals cultural nuances associated with nicknames given in Swati families.


Keywords

nicknames; Swati; clan; socio-cultural; socio-onomastic; nickname bearer.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 4: Quality education

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