What is it about?

This paper is a comparative study of names and naming practices among speakers of Dagbani, Kusaal, Likpakpaanl and Sɩsaalɩ. We discuss in detail the ceremonies that accompany the naming of a newborn among speakers of these languages. By using the framework of ethnopragmatics, the study explores the culture-internal dynamics of personal names by comparing the typology of names in the four languages. It draws attention to the fact that personal names are not given randomly but rather influenced by the special circumstances surrounding the birth of the name bearer and also by the advice of a diviner.

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Why is it important?

This study reveals how culture is crafted through language and transmitted from one generation to the other through personal names. It is also observed that speakers of these languages have a common perception or worldview evident in their traditional cultural practices.


This article is unique because it has authors who are native speakers of the various languages used in the study. They, bring on board experiences which helped in the analysis of the collected data from both the insider and the outsider perspectives.

Hasiyatu Abubakari
University of Ghana

Appreciating the cultural and linguistic diversity documented. You could view it as valuable documentation of cultural naming practices and language use. Critically analyzing the categories/typologies used. You could examine if the name classifications accurately represent cultural beliefs and practices or if they impose potentially artificial distinctions. Considering the interplay between language, culture and identity. You could be interested in how naming reflects and shapes cultural identity.

Goethe-Universitat Frankfurt am Main

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Mabia languages and cultures expressed through personal names, International Journal of Language and Culture, September 2023, John Benjamins,
DOI: 10.1075/ijolc.22037.abu.
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