Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences - Institute of Asian and African Studies

17.05. Colloquium on African linguistics: Shona surnames (Mamvura)

“The semantic and morpho-syntactic aspects of Shona surnames” - Talk by Zvinashe Mamvura (HU Berlin & University of Zimbabwe, Harare) given within the digital colloquium of African linguistics and languages
  • When May 17, 2022 from 04:15 to 05:45
  • Where Institut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften, Invalidenstr. 118, room 410 & via Zoom
  • Contact Name Christfried Naumann (christfried.naumann (AT) hu-berlin.de, please contact for Zoom access information)
  • iCal

Some Shona surnames are truncated forms of longer and larger units. The study treats the shortened forms as ‘onomastic remnants.’ It examines the morphological processes that account for shortened surnames in Shona. The reasons for clipping the original forms are also discussed. Surnames stand out as marked constructions that differ from nouns in Shona. As class 1a nouns, surnames conform to the general structure of Shona nouns: noun prefix +noun stem. Surnames, and all types of personal names in Shona, are derived from some base forms in the language, such as nominal, verbal, and ideophonic constructions. Preliminary findings show that surname clipping engenders semantic changes between the remnant and the original forms. The study used purposive sampling techniques to produce a corpus of four-hundred and fifty surnames that constituted the data for this study. Both synchronic and diachronic data are critical to this study. The data were collected from Masvingo District, under Masvingo Province and Harare Metropolitan Province. Semi-structured interviews were also conducted with selected research participants to elicit their views on surname clipping.