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Naming, identity and gender constructions: a phenomenological study of Zezuru personal names.

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Names given to individuals among the Zezuru are not arbitrarily given but are rather carefully given to individuals based on one’s gender status. Personal names among the Zezuru do carry gender connotations. This study focused on how names reflect the gender status of the name bearer and obtained most of its insights from semantics, the critical discourse analysis theory, the backing theory, and the gender theory. Sources which included school registers, questionnaires, interviews, and focus group discussions were used to collect personal names which werein turn used for this study. The names that were used were from the period before Independence (1975-1979 to 1980 to date). This study recognized the already existing naming categories used by previous researchers, and went on to come up with new or alternative naming categories best suited for the study. The study found out that gendered names have far reaching effects on the bearers of the names. The descriptive backing, critical discourse analysis,and semantic and gender theories were found to be the best theories in coming up with the gendered meanings of the personal names used in this study. This study argues that it will make significant contributions to the body of knowledge in disciplines such as onomastics, semantics, pragmatics, anthropology sociology and others.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.