Original Research

The role of the nameless in isiXhosa ntsomi

B.B. Mkonto
Literator | Vol 30, No 2 | a80 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v30i2.80 | © 2009 B.B. Mkonto | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 July 2009 | Published: 16 July 2009

About the author(s)

B.B. Mkonto, Department of Language & Literature, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa

Full Text:

PDF (112KB)


This article looks into the custom of not giving names to pivotal characters in some selected Xhosa tales. Given that the word “tales” means different things to different people, it is used in this article to refer to both fables (stories which deal with animals only) and folktales (stories dealing with both animals and humans). The unnaming practice is not uncommon in all types of tales and is applied to both males and females, young and old, as well as to strange mysterious beings. The motive for unnaming is analysed and its functions are alluded to. References to popular generic names of animals found in Xhosa tales are made for the sake of clarifying the need for naming, though these are not the subject of discussion here. It is therefore most fitting to use onomastics as the theoretical framework of this article in order to capture convincing patterns of the unnaming system and the creation of faceless characters in indigenous Xhosa tales.


Anomastics; Manysidedness; Naming; Referential


Total abstract views: 3324
Total article views: 5890

Crossref Citations

No related citations found.