Language, Identity and the Cultural Context of Names in Selected Nigerian Novels
Chibuike Smart Mbarachi, Esther Igwenyi

Names are a reflection of a people's language and culture hence novelists often adopt names to capture their sociocultural background, the society in which their texts are set, or the background of their fictional characters. Using the framework of Anthroponomastics which leans on linguistic anthropology, this study examines names in four selected Nigerian novels, namely Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart and Anthills of the Savannah, and Chimamanda Adichie's Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun. The analysis of the names extracted from the novels shows that in names, language and culture intertwine to bequeath an identity to the named person. This identity may mirror the expected character, roles or the circumstances surrounding the conception and birth of the named one, or may generally reflect the worldview of his/her society. The meaning of names is contextual and derives from a society’s cultural and sociolinguistic reservoir which is accessible to members whenever they need names that capture their intended meaning. The names in the novels also indicate the individual and the group identity of the bearers and their society, but expressed through language and they often have multi-faceted meanings.

Full Text: PDF      DOI: 10.15640/ijll.v6n1a5