Symbolic representation in the naming of people among the dagara of northwestern ghana

Martin Kyiileyang

This paper examines the nomenclature of the Dagara people in northwestern Ghana. There are two main categories of Dagara nomenclature. The study is narrowed down to human beings with the main focus on traditional Dagara societies of Nandom. The spelling of words is derived from Dagara, the variety of Dagaare spoken in Nandom. I have clarified the identity of the Dagara as part of the MABIA speakers. Next, the study elaborates the two categories of nomenclature: stereotyped names and freely chosen names. Stereotyped names are customary names and fall into five categories. Freely chosen names give a wide scope of naming among the Dagara people. In this category, there are theophoric names. Most of the names depict certain literary features such as metaphor, paradox, hyperbole, various images and symbols. Certain thematic values are associated with some of the names linked to peculiar events. The methodology employed in the study was a sampling of a variety of names from the five categories of stereotyped or customary names from collection of names done by previous Dagara scholars who undertook studies on Dagara traditional practices. In fact, the study reveals how the Dagara society is closely bound with its language, tradition and culture.

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