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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:What is in a name? Ghanaian personal names as information sources
Author:Adjah, Olive AkpebuISNI
Year:2011
Periodical:African Research and Documentation (ISSN 0305-862X)
Issue:117
Pages:3-17
Language:English
Geographic term:Ghana
Subjects:Akan
Ewe
Ga
personal names
Abstract:Ghanaian personal names provide information about circumstances or events in the family, or even in society, at the time of an individual's conception and/or birth. This article describes the naming systems of the Akan, Ewe and Ga communities in Ghana, discussing both surnames and forenames. Surnames are most often family names, but may also refer to the larger ethnic group, or to the place where people have migrated to. Appellations that were acquired long ago due to bravery or some other admirable quality may have become part of the family name. Forenames are divided into three groups: natural names, circumstantial names and 'allusive names'. Natural names are again divided into day names (depending on the sex of the child and the day of the week on which it was born), serial names (depending on the sex of the child and its position as the first born, second born, etc.) and twin names (special names for twins and for children born after twins). Circumstantial names refer to special circumstances under which the child was born. The author provides several examples, including 'strange names' that are meant to let the spirit of the child stay among the living out of shame, instead of returning to the spirit world. Allusive names are names that are based on ideas and beliefs of the parents, portraying the parents' ideas about man in society or man's relationship with God. Bibliogr, notes. [ASC Leiden abstract]
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