Sociolinguistic Studies, Vol 13, No 2-4 (2019)

I cannot baptize Satan: The communicative import of Mbube death-prevention names

Jonas Akung, Oshega Abang
Issued Date: 20 Feb 2020


This article examines the communicative significance and sociolinguistic import of deathprevention names in Mbube, Ogoja Local Government Area of Cross River State, Southeastern Nigeria. Naming in the Mbube cultural context reveals deep insights into the relationship between the name-giver and the cultural framework of the Mbube people. This study is an attempt to identify death-prevention names Mbube people bestow and what they communicate in terms of ideology, spirituality and social solidarity. The study relies on Leech’s (1983) socio-pragmatic paradigm on meaning processes, which interrogates social perceptions underlying participants’ interpretation and performance of communicative action (Kasper and Rose, 2002:2). Data for the study were sourced from givers and bearers of death-prevention names in the study area. Interviews and participants observations were the key elicitation techniques with respondents who have in-depth knowledge of the history, language and culture of the Mbube people. The study gains sufficient insights from Mbube religious beliefs, cosmology and history, which resonate in the Mbube naming system generally and death-prevention names in particular. Findings reveal that Mbube death-prevention names confer honour on both the past (ancestors) and the present (living beings), and serve as symbolic resources that encode deep cultural meanings, construct identity and reinforce the notion of personhood.

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DOI: 10.1558/sols.37823



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