Semantics, Morphology and Gender-Marking in Datooga Personal Names

Kuria Mdoe


This paper describes the Datooga personal names in terms of their
semantics and morphology as well as how gender is marked in
those names. Based on a sample of 490 personal names,the paper
re-affirms that Datooga personal names are meaningful as they
reflect various events and activities in the society. The
meaningfulness of personal names is attributed to the fact that
they are derived from the said events and activities. The major
morphological processes involved in the derivation of the personal
names are affixation, conversion, verbal negation, borrowing and
compounding. In marking the gender of personal names, an array
of linguistic and extra-linguistic factors is involved for gender
differentiation in the Datooga naming system. Further, the
meaning of certain lexical items is central in determining how
gender is marked in personal names. Female names derive from
lexical items with the themes beauty, docility and small size while
male names are associated with the themes bad looking, big size
and dangerous/destructive events/activities. The semantics of the
names are best captured through an encyclopaedic view of
meaning since their meanings are interwoven with the general
culture of the Datooga community.
Key words: Datooga, gender, gender

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