What Do My Students Call Me? Nicknaming of Lecturers by Students at the University of Dar es Salaam

Gastor Mapunda


This study analyses lecturers‟ nicknames given by students at the University of Dar es Salaam. It focuses on the ways in which less powerful members of a community use nicknames as a way of mobilizing solidarity among themselves and of forming identities of those in authority, as an othering strategy. Tact and care is particularly important to the less powerful members because lack of it may get them into trouble. The Faircloughian three-dimensional framework provides a theoretical lens through which the data are discussed. The findings reveal that the more popular nicknames relate to the lecturers‟ unacceptable behaviours and level of competence in the subjects they teach. Others have to do with the linguistic mannerisms the lecturers display while they are in the lecture rooms, their dressing, sexual craving, and physical appearance. All these lead students to coin nicknames. The findings and the discussion show that it is important for both lecturers and students – indeed for all those who are in superior-subordinate relationships – to reflect upon the social processes they are involved in and change their “behaviours” if such behaviours are unacceptable, for them to co-exist amicably.


Key words: nicknames, superior-subordinate relationships, social processes, unacceptable behaviour, identities

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 [ISSN 0856-9965 (Print)]